Something that my mother used to say fairly often to me is, "You are violent about getting healthy and maintaining your peace of mind." It's a bit of a play on words, but honestly, she ain't neva lied. In a world that is filled with drama (both online and off), people who change with the weather and challenges that can totally take you out (if you let them), I have learned that the best way to remain stable and centered is to make sure that I am in a state of peace. That I know how to calm my spirit down. That I can be still instead of busy, just for the sake of doing something. That no matter how hectic, erratic or nerve-wracking things may be around me, I can choose to remain composed, steady and completely undisturbed. Yeah, inner peace ain't nothin' to be slept on. It's one of the truest art forms that there is.
Yet and still, with all of the poppin' off that folks do, the stress-related illnesses that so many of us have and the obsessive worrying and overthinking that a lot of us subject ourselves to, sometimes we forget that inner peace is a surefire remedy to all of this. So, how can you know that you are more at peace with yourself than most?
1. You Feel As If You’ve Got Nothing to Prove
As life would have it, I found myself watching artist T-Pain on The Breakfast Club recently. Before he got into, let's just say a lot (he's pretty open about he and his wife engaging in threesomes from time to time and his interview basically went viral due to him running through $40 million bucks), I must say that I felt him when he said something in particular.
"I've wasted enough time trying to get people to see my truth. The relief of stress that I've had, not trying to prove anything to people…it's so great. My truth is I'm happy…the people who take their time to go on my page and go to a post where I'm doing something great just to tell me I fell off…you took time out of your day for this?...That used to determine how my day went. I gave that so much power, and now I can look back at myself and be like, 'Who are these people?'…they weren't there with me when with me shootin' in the gym, they weren't there when I came up crazy. They weren't there when I was doin' all of my biggest stuff, so now that things aren't 2008 anymore, I'm not gonna let them determine what happens to me during my day. My kids do that. My wife does that."
BET has a series called Blew A Bag that also showcases how well-known people "lost" their money. I've checked out of a few of their stories. My two takeaways is they are cautionary tales on money management, and if there is one thing most of those people have in common with where T-Pain appears to be now is real peace is when you feel like there is no need to prove anything to anyone other than yourself and your loved ones.
2. Your Looks Don’t Consume You
OK, so when I say that your looks shouldn't consume you, I don't mean that you shouldn't take pride in your appearance. What comes to mind here is a Scripture and an article. Let's go with the Scripture first. A portion of I Peter 3:3(NKJV) says, "Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart…" The emphasis here is on the word "merely". "Merely" means that how we look on the outside should not consume us to the point that our character isn't more important. This ties in really well with the article I was referring to. In spring of 2018, Harper's Bazaar published "The Challenges of Raising a Black Girl to Feel Beautiful". In it, the author said that a psychologist by the name of Dr. Shefali Tsabary once said, "the best thing a mother can do is be her most empowered, authentic self." Amen.
A woman who is truly at peace with herself enjoys a nice pair of shoes and has no problem pampering her appearance. But what she's going to spend even more time on is thriving in her purpose, taking care of her responsibilities and becoming the kind of individual who is known for her inward beauty far more than how she looks on the outside. She doesn't have time to constantly stand in the mirror; her "life plate" is way too full for that.
3. You Prefer Peace Over Always Being Right
I try my best to always give credit where credit is due and, one of the best things that Dr. Phil has ever said (at least to me) is, "Would you rather be happy or right?" If I could tweak that, my question would be "Do you have to know everything, or would you rather have peace in your relationships?"
Last year, I penned a piece on here entitled "I'm Not A Fan Of My BFF's Man - This Is How I Make Our Friendship Work". It was in reference to a girlfriend whose husband, while he isn't this way all of the time, if he wants to be right about something, he turns into the most condescending, patronizing and disrespectful person I have ever met. I'm talking, you're gonna get a barrage of emails with links proving his point, he's going to over-talk you, and even hurl insults if necessary (one time, he said to me, "Go back to your irrelevant blogging that no one reads" after I "won" a debate). He typically apologizes within a 24-hour period, but yeah, when he gets in that zone, he does the absolute most.
Here's the thing about him, though. One time, he got me so mad that we were in a screaming match on the patio of a restaurant. After that, I realized "This man is getting me out of myself. And for what?" Ever since then, while he can still show his tail sometimes, what I've come to accept is, wow, it must be mad draining for him to live with himself; to be so obsessed with always being right—to be that afraid of being wrong—that folks find themselves not even wanting to be around him.
In that headspace, these days, whenever he says something that either I don't agree with or I know is pretty close to asinine, I think about the fact that I'm not gonna win a million dollars for expressing my opinion or for proving him wrong, so why not just let him rant and keep my inner peace? It's a woosah like no other to want peace over the need to be right—when you are confident enough in yourself that you don't need someone else to co-sign on your thoughts or for them to validate the knowledge that you already know that you have.
4. You Repel Drama at All Costs
Something that used to get me in a lot of trouble is gravitating to people who are funny and dramatic. On one hand, their humor and impeccable timing would keep me in stitches. On the other, they had such an impulsive and immature way of handling issues and conflict that everything was a soap opera. Yes, they were bona fide drama queens (or kings). What are some signs of this type of person? They always need to be the center of attention; they tend to always put emotion even over common sense; they can't take what they dish out; they are uber-passive aggressive; they overreact about…shoot, what don't they overreact about?; they're very picky, hypercritical and they typically act before they think (and that's just the tip of the iceberg).
If you read all of that and felt exhausted just thinking about those traits, you're someone who probably does everything that you possibly can to avoid this type of individual. I get it too because one thing that peace means is tranquility and a tranquil state comes with no commotion, quiet and calm. When you're at peace with yourself, you'll let a "fun person" go, if it means not having to deal with the drama that follows them.
5. You Are Gracious and Grateful
I was born with a natural bass in my voice. God made me that way and I'm fine with it. However, I will say that I find it interesting that, the more peaceful I am with myself, the "less loud" I tend to be (funny how that works, huh?). At the same time, I've got a girlfriend who is so soft-spoken that, even a decade into our friendship, not one phone call happens when I don't have to ask her to speak up. I'll admit that I find there to be something really sexy about that because, it's not that she can't amplify her voice (or tone); she simply chooses not to. When I've asked her why, she says it's because she doesn't feel the need to "turn up" to be seen or heard.
When it comes to her resolve, the first word that comes to mind is "feminine". The second is "gracious". When you are standing in your power to the point that you don't have to yell and scream for people to acknowledge it, there is something very elegant and easy about mindset.
Something else that I like about my friend is she's very polite. She's always going to say "please" and "thank you". Also, she's a joy to do things for because she always has such a beautiful sense of gratitude. She does her best to take nothing and no one for granted, and that kind of person is always someone you want to look out for. Yep, when you can be gracious and grateful, you have a true peace within you.
6. You Do Not Feel the Need to Control Others
As a control freak in recovery, I'm a firm believer that about 98.9 percent of controlling people know that they are this way. I also believe that peace is one of the furthest things that they have going for them. Just think about it. If you're a perfectionist; if you micro-manage; if everything has to go your way all of the time; if you're always criticizing someone—how are you ever able to calm down and relax?
Again, as someone who has recovered, in many ways, when it comes to this, what I have learned is the main person a control freak tends to not have under control is themselves (because another trait of control freaks is moodiness). But the more they focus on finding balance, which creates peace, within their own lives, the less they need to be control of what's going on outside of them.
Why? Because they know that all they can control is themselves. Not only that, but they put boundaries in place so that there is no need to control other individuals. And you know what? There really isn't.
7. You Prefer to Be Respected Instead of Liked
Companies that I have written for, know that I only really have two requests—make sure to list my pen name as "Shellie R. Warren" and make sure that payments come on time (umm, since my content comes on time). On the name tip, there are some people who will leave out the "R" and even misspell Shellie (no "y" or "ey" in my case) or worse, I'll have editors who will address me as "Shirley". Then, when I correct them, they think I am "doing the most".
Apparently, I'm not the only one with name drama. I recently watched a video about how to pronounce certain celebrity names properly. Rihanna has told us that it is "Ree-anna (like anna not ah-na). Chrissy Teigen has told us that her last name is "Tie-gen" not "Tee-gen". Amandla Stenberg does indeed have an "L" in her first name (it's not Amanda). Addressing someone, even when it comes to their name, properly is a sign of respect. People who are at peace with themselves, they require respect. Even more so than being liked.
Why? Because inner peace is tied into self-esteem and self-awareness. The more you evolve in both of these areas, the more you come to accept that people liking you will change—time changes things, circumstances change things and plus, some people are fickle AF. But it doesn't matter what the dynamics are, there is no reason why you should be disrespected. Peaceful people tend to be on the, "Shoot, I like myself, so I don't need a ton of others to like me. I'm not gonna allow you to treat me any ole' kind of way, though." This includes how you address them. And good for them for being that way.
8. You Don’t Need Everyone to Understand, Like or Agree with You
It's funny because, as I was sitting down to pen this, I took a break to see what was happening in YouTube world. The stories that came up in my suggestion feed are ones that I feel are totally worth your time. One was about a Black curvy girl who was shopping for a bridal gown at a shop that specializes in plus-size brides; one that was founded by a Black woman and has the dopest energy. Another story was about a super-inspiring Black woman who cooks and even puts on eyelashes with her feet (she was born without arms). Another featured Aevin Dugas. If you don't know her, she holds the record for having the largest Afro.
As I was listening to everyone share their own insights and perspectives, the thing that I felt they all had in common was how at peace they were. Kareen, the woman shopping for a dress, was looking for a dress that would, not hide, but would hug her every curve. Kashmiere, the woman with no arms has her own YouTube channel, alongside her man. And while some of us are struggle with even going (or staying) natural, Aevin's Afro is four feet tall and four feet wide.
I find these women to be super-inspiring, but I'm willing to bet that not everyone in their world—and especially not everyone they come into contact with—agrees with how they choose to approach life. While some days may be more challenging than others, it is very evident that, at least for the most part, all three of these ladies are at peace because obstacles nor opinions are standing in their way. If we "get" them cool. If not, kindly move out of their way. All of us should take this same approach, don't you think?
9. You Make Rest a Top Priority
I'm gonna share with you some synonyms for peace. Tell me if they don't automatically put you in a relaxed state of mind—harmony, bliss, calm, quiet, stillness and serenity. People who are at peace with themselves tend to have a home that embodies these words, they use scents that embody these words, and they make it a point and practice to participate in the kind of things that embody these words too. They meditate. They unplug to enjoy quiet time. They take vacations. One day a week is reserved for pampering. In other words, they rest—without excuses, reservations or apologies.
Personally, I always think there is something up with people who always have to be doing something. I mean, no matter what, they can't just chill out and be still. It might be the marriage life coach in me, but I always wonder if they're afraid to be alone with their own thoughts. People who are peaceful aren't. In fact, they relish in having the time and space to ponder, reflect and then, after doing so, to rest. Sleep and all.
10. You Know How to Stay in the Moment. Each and Every Moment.
Deepak Chopra once said, "Life gives you plenty of time to do whatever you want to do if you stay in the present moment." Out of all of the stuff that I shared, one of the absolute best ways to know that you are at peace with yourself, is you're not constantly dwelling on your past and you're certainly not fretting about your future either. There's a Scripture in the Bible that says, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matthew 6:34—NKJV) There's another that says, "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit'; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow…" (James 4:13-14—NKJV).
Are these verses encouraging irresponsibility or a lack of planning? No. What they are conveying is saying is if you stay in the moment, it keeps you calm, it encourages you to be grateful and it gives you an unbelievable amount of peace. And with inner peace, you can accomplish—and conquer—just about anything that comes your way. (Funny how that works, huh?)
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Originally published on August 25, 2019