- Michelle Sterling
Why It's Time to Make Inner Peace Your Active Voice
I was nearly hit by a car this weekend as one of my neighbors surged past a landscaping truck that had slowed to allow me to cross the street at a designated crosswalk. The driver never saw me. He was too busy waving his angry fist looking back to the truck driver.
It troubles me, how many people seem to be allowing anger to be their driving force these days, as if it has somehow become the favored behavioral fuel.
Anger absolutely has its place and value. Anger is, when processed effectively, a telling emotion indicating that things are not well in your inner state.
It can help you pinpoint an area of your life where you are afraid, or where you might be feeling betrayed. It can give you clues as to inner narratives that are not supporting you, like jealousy, or self-righteousness.
But anger left unattended by inner work is harmful, both to the individual carrying it and those who are caught in their wake.
After this weekend’s incident I’ve been thinking about the concept of inner peace, and why we seem so much more eager to adopt and share anger than peace, even knowing the toxicity of one and healing qualities of the other. Here's where I've landed:
I think inner peace needs a rebranding campaign.
Here’s why: We tend to see anger as active energy in motion – making things happen. And we see inner peace as passive energy internalized – letting things go by.
Think about it. We rant and rave to get things done. Anger as aggression gets rewarded as taking charge of the situation. Anger’s fiery language is used to inspire fear and compliance, and cutthroat tactics win brutal negotiations. Anger is dominating. It’s a full contact sport. On its best day it’s still "killing others" with kindness.
On the other hand, if I were to ask you what inner peace looks like, what would you say? Would you picture someone sitting on the side of a babbling brook in lotus position while butterflies land on their open palms?
Does inner peace in your mind’s eyes always require solitude, interacting with nature, and attempts at those elusive states of meditative bliss? If that’s what you picture, you’re making my point.
The truth is, while these passive and solo activities can indeed be roads to inner peace, true inner peace is active. It shows up in how you show up; in every way you move through your everyday activities.
For example, at work, inner peace can look like:
Giving your all to a high-impact project and helping others do the same
Believing your voice will be heard, so you can allow others to be heard as well
Offering trust to your teammates without making them earn it first
Being honest, transparent, straightforward, and considerate of everyone’s ideas
Having a deep knowing that you are okay, no matter what happens around you
Engaging with others from that space of knowing
Inner peace is found in seeking out, being given, and giving opportunities to grow, try things, and to participate and play without fear of ramifications. No carrot. No stick.
Inner peace is continually seeking self-knowledge and healthy connections with others. In the language of Emotional Intelligence, it would be called your emotional and social functioning. It’s lifelong learning, course-correcting, understanding. It’s compassion. It’s peaceful resistance. It’s fighting for what you believe in, not from a lens of self-centeredness, but for the sake of our connectedness.
Let's work to restore anger to its rightful place, right there next to fear, frustration, humiliation and hostility. Not as tactic to drive change, but as an indicator of inner unrest, dis-ease. A state of being to resolve, not act on; not to shout out and spread with self-righteous indignation. If you want to have a voice for change, let that voice come from a state of inner peace.
Only through our external actions can we shift the current perception of the power of inner peace. In the meantime, may your inner peace be your driving force, and may you find an active voice that moves your life for good. I'm here to support you if I can help.