I'm surrounded by 20-somethings in my everyday life. I look at their energy, enthusiasm, and youth... overhear them talk about their hopes and dreams and alternately listen to all the angst and frustration they go through. My friends and I often joke that we would never in this lifetime want to go back to our 20s. As fun as it was to be "young," it certainly wasn't always carefree, and God were there some very painful lessons along the way. The word "inner peace" certainly was not in my vocabulary back then.
I'm happy to say that I've found it in my 40s on a mostly consistent basis. But there are a lot of old behaviors, thought patterns and general "bullshit" I needed to let go of in order to get there.
1) The need to be "perfect." Nobody is perfect. Nobody. I spent all of my 20s and half of my 30s striving for perfection. The perfect career, the perfect marriage, the perfect friendships, the perfect body, the perfect life so all would admire me. It took a fairly large trauma, an ongoing and horrific battle with an eating disorder, a debilitating illness brought on my need to "do it all and be it all," and the loss of my childhood friend of 30 years to bring me to my knees and realize I wasn't perfect and I sure as hell was never going to be. My cover was blown. Now I accept I am the most perfect "imperfect" human being on the planet. One who makes mistakes, has a sometimes less than perfect life but still inspires others through my humanness.
2) The need to "People Please" and Have Everyone Like You. Sometimes, people just don't like you. They don't like the way you dress. They don't like the way you talk. They don't like your energy. They don't like your cheery perky personality or they don't like your sarcastic dry sense of humor. Whatever. I invested so much time in saying "Yes" when I wanted to say "no" that I made myself sick in an effort to get people to like me. Some people just don't like me. Oh well. Accept that not everyone will like you no matter how nice you are. I mean, be honest... do you like everyone? Enough said.
3) Being Right. I came from a family where whoever argued the loudest or got the last word in got to be "right." It was exhausting. Spending all those years arguing, holding grudges, trying to get someone else see my point of view when the truth was, it didn't really matter. At the end of the day we all live from our own perception anyway and in almost every situation, there is no right or wrong. There are just differences in opinions and the way we all see the world. I don't need to be right anymore. I would much rather allow the other person to think they've won the battle by giving in if it allows me to have peace.
4) Beating Yourself Up For Mistakes. We all make them. Numerous times. Sometimes on a daily basis. It's called "being human." Look at your mistakes as lessons. If you keep making the same one, you just didn't get the lesson the first time around. That's OK. Be gentle and loving with yourself and give yourself another shot to do it differently next time. Eventually you'll get it right.
5) Giving your Power Away to Someone Else. How often do we allow someone else's opinion of us or the way they treat us to affect our day, our self-esteem or what we think of ourselves? It's called giving away your personal power. It's allowing another human being to tell you that you aren't enough, that you aren't worthy, and you aren't OK just as you are. Don't listen to those people. Take your power back and don't let what others say or their opinions about you define who you are. You are a Divine Spiritual Being having a human experience. Which means you are powerful beyond measure.
6) Anger & Resentment. There is nothing in the world more detrimental to your inner peace than holding onto anger and resentment. It will suck the life out of you. This isn't about letting the other person off the hook or saying that what they did to you is OK. It's just learning how to make peace with what happened and move on. Keep in mind that he who angers you controls you.
7) Toxic People. It's difficult to let go of friendships you've had a lifetime or sever ties with family members who bring out the worst in you. I'm not saying to cut people off when they're getting on your nerves. We all go through times in our lives when we aren't ourselves and we depend on the people closest to us to stick by us. I'm talking about the people who consistently are negative and bring out the worst in you for long periods of time. When it comes to that, it may be time to lovingly let the relationship go.
8) The Need For Control. This applies to other people, situations or life in general. We aren't in the driver's seat. God, a Higher Power, the Universe... whatever you believe in is. Trust that things are unfolding the way they are meant to and release control over the situation. Embrace the unknown. Typically that is when the greatest gifts and surprises present themselves.
9) Your Ego. The ego is powerful. It causes you to be hurt. It makes you believe everything is about you. It gets defensive when others criticize us. It allows us to believe people are mistreating us when sometimes we are simply judging ourselves and projecting our stuff onto them. It gets severely wounded when a romantic relationship ends. Don't let the ego make decisions for you. Let your highest self do that. Your highest self will always make choices based on compassion, patience and love which in turn will bring you peace.
10) The Past. You can't change it. So stop reliving it. All of it serves a purpose and all of it is part of your spiritual growth. Let go of the past and move forward. What you have now is the present moment. And you have a choice to make the present moment joyful, happy and full of peace.