Believe it or not, creating inner peace is a choice. Each day, we’re faced with the choice to create peace or create stress. This can be a challenging task on a good day. On a bad day, it feels impossible. The constant ups and downs in life are a given. They’re largely uncontrollable. But you can control your response to them. Even though it feels impossible when you're dealing with a narcissist, you really can learn to feel peaceful in challenging times.

Find the peace you need to thrive:

1. Give yourself the advice you would give a friend. It’s difficult to make decisions when you’re emotionally compromised. But the path forward is more obvious to you if someone else is struggling. Imagine that your friend has the same challenge you’re facing. What advice would you give them?

2. Ask yourself what you’re learning from this experience. Are you learning the importance of saving your money? Are you learning not to overextend yourself? Are you learning how to deal with the death of a loved one?

• Every hardship provides a lesson. Determine what you can learn from the experience.

3. Write in a journal. Let your emotions flow out onto paper. There’s something cathartic about writing. It feels like the emotion is leaving your body and taking residence in a new location.

• After unloading your negative emotions, use your journal to make a list of possible solutions to your dilemma. What resources do you have available? Whom can you contact for help or support?

4. What are you afraid of? If you’re feeling out of sorts, you’re afraid of something. What is it? Defining your fear will make it a little less scary. Ask yourself what is the worst thing likely to happen.

5. Practice mindfulness. We make our challenges more challenging by continuously churning through them. You think about your issue while you’re in the shower, driving to work, eating lunch, talking with friends, or watching TV. You never get a break.

• Mindfulness is simply paying attention to your environment and the task at hand. If you’re eating dinner, your mind should be on eating, not thinking about your difficulties. It’s challenging to control your thoughts, but the peace you experience can’t be beat.

6. Tame your mind first. It’s a common mistake. You focus on solving your challenge first. Then you believe you’ll feel better. This is logical, but slow and challenging. Get your mind under control, and then your problem is easier to solve. You’ll also feel better more quickly. Quiet your mental noise first and then search for solutions.

7. Remember all of your previous issues that turned out okay. Think about the challenges you’ve faced in the past. You survived and moved on. You’ll get over this, too. Believe that everything will work out for the best.

• What was the worst thing that happened to you during your elementary school years?
• High school?
• Early 20’s?

8. Look for the helpers. Whether there’s a fire, an earthquake, or a homeless family, there’s always someone helping. There are people available to help you, too. Look for the helpers and you’ll find them.

Feeling stressed is a typical response when life takes an unexpected turn. Our responses to hardship are habitual. Habits can be altered or broken. New habits can be created. Avoid the belief that your negative feelings are happening to you like bad weather. You can choose your focus and manage your thoughts. Find peace first and then solve your challenge.

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