You’ve had an amazing time of rest and relaxation. You feel ready to face your day. Just moments later, your children are screaming and fighting with one another. Where does your calm go? Right out the flippin’ window. You take deep breaths before responding the escalated situation you see in front of you only to find your children have sent you off the deep end before even reaching the third breath. Now you’re upset because they have disrupted and stolen the calm state you had experienced only moments ago.
How do we cultivate lasting peace in our lives so it can translate into our home? In this post I will cover 4 ways you can see more peace in your life and home.
4 ways to create more peace in your life and home
1. Make sense of your story
If I’m not peaceful, my home is not peaceful. Mental HEALTH starts with me, not with my children.
We don’t realize that unresolved issues causes distress in our minds. When we haven’t made sense of our story, we have nothing inside of us to be able to handle any emotional distress or unpredictable outbursts from our children, or anyone for that matter. This causes us to respond in ways that are often confusing and even sometimes frightening to those around us. Each situation that comes at s starts with an activation of something inside of us that isn’t resolved. We think we are reacting to the present situation, but the truth is that we are reacting to something that has happened before in our past. This is why we can appear to be “going off the deep end” with our response.
For example, I used to yell at my children a lot. It really bothered me. As I began to do a little digging, I discovered that through most of my life I haven’t felt heard. I didn’t feel heard by my parents, and then even from my husband at times. When my children came on the scene, I decided they were going to listen to me, but as we all know, children don’t listen. I would yell at them because of the belief I bought into that I wasn’t worth listening to. Once I made sense of that, I was able to do a some work on myself and haven’t yelled much since.
If we make sense of our story we can get a clear perspective on our present situation and respond appropriately. If we haven’t made sense of our story, it’s MAYDAY MAYDAY, we’re goin’ down quickly. At this point we are out of control. When we react this way frequently we unintentionally make our children fearful and confused. This often reveals itself in them as anxiety or even depression. It can also increase opposition and ADHD behaviours.
The hard work of uncovering our stories and how it relates to our responses to others is worth the effort. It brings peace to our heart in situations that would usually throw us over the deep end.
2. Don’t measure how well you are doing by your child’s behaviour
So many parents make the mistake of feeling peaceful inside only when their children are behaving in a way that pleases them. We often attach how well we are doing as a parent to how our child behaves. This is a huge mistake. If your peace is determined by how well behaved your kids are, you’re in for some turbulence. Many people struggle having peace in the middle of chaos, or when things don’t go their way, but true peace isn’t dependant on everything going perfect, and it’s not determined by your child’s ability to be an angel.
Some of us believe that if we could just get our child to stop doing this or quit behaving that way that we wouldn’t have such strong reactions, but that isn’t true. Our reactions are a picture of how we are doing on the inside. Our reactions are our responsibility. They are not caused by others. It’s hard to let go of the decisions our kids make and not make them our own. It’s hard to separate your emotions from your child’s. There’s nothing easy about separating yourself from the meltdown your toddler is having in the middle of the grocery store while all eyes are on you.
I remember a time my son refused to complete a project that was due the next day at school. I got all worked up, totally lost my cool and tried everything to get him to complete the project. I uttered threats, I yelled, I took away every privilege. He right out refused and he wasn’t budging. After exhausting all my energy on trying to get him to complete this project I realized that this was his decision, not mine. This doesn’t affect me at all. Since then, I’ve learned the art of letting my son own his decisions. That has brought a ton of peace back to my soul. I don’t heartlessly leave him out to dry when he makes poor decisions. The opposite is true. I am able to gracefully walk alongside him (most days, let’s admit no one is perfect) assisting him through the pain or joy of living the results of the decisions he makes.
Measuring how well we are doing as parents by our children’s behaviour is unrealistic, depressing, and a sure way to rob us of our peace.
3. Slow down your life
I’ve discovered I am not as flexible as I’d like to think I am. When things don’t go the way I plan I become tense, frustrated and anxious. I’m used to going at fast pace and get annoyed when I am interrupted. One of the greatest ways I have seen more peace come to my heart is by slowing down my life.
Our culture celebrates the fast paced life. We pack our schedules to the brim with extra curricular activities, volunteering, school, and work. We all come home exhausted with no emotional capacity. Our busyness doesn’t make room for the downtime we need as humans. It doesn’t give us any room for disruptions of emotion. We attempt to quickly solve conflicts in the car ride to the next appointment. We text instead of talk. We eat on the fly, that is if we remember to eat.
No one can have peace with the schedules we run for ourselves. In my family I have a limit of only 2 nights a week where we are allowed to be out. The rest of our week is spent at home. We invite people over to our home for coffees or meals instead of going out. My boys are much more calm because of this and so is my hubby and I. We enjoy simple things like reading, tinkering in the garage, and taking care of our flowerbeds.
Slowing down your life could very well be the one thing that could give you an incredible breakthrough of peace you are longing for.
4. Cultivate JOY
The secret to peace isn’t calm, it’s joy. Joy is different than happiness because it doesn’t rely on things, experiences, or people to create it. Joy is an emotion, much like shame, that runs deeper than other emotions. It’s embedded in us through choosing to find pleasure in the moments of my day. It’s finding delight again in my children’s faces instead of looking at all the things that frustrate me about them. It’s seeing the beauty in the simple and allowing gratitude to fill the heart. Joy doesn’t mean I’m laughing or smiling all the time, it means I’m able to find contentment in every situation. I’ve noticed through years of heartache and crisis that the times I have had the most peace was when I would choose joy. The pursuit of calm left me frustrated and grasping to feel more of it, only to be left empty. Joy never disappoints. It remains even when the day gets out of control.
What do you do when there is no joy? When life has brought you to a dark place where just getting out of bed is hard? Remember, joy is deeper than a feeling. It’s choosing to see the moments in your day worthy of gratitude. I have personally experienced days, months, and season’s where there is more dark than light, more pain than hope. Where does joy fit in during those times? In the small things, and taking it day by day or even moment by moment. Slowly over time, the light grows. Today’s culture doesn’t value the time it takes for season’s of our lives to change. We market a cheap message that happiness is our daily right. Instagram doesn’t tell us how long it takes for joy to become a part of us by the daily discipline of looking for that one thing to be thankful for that is often in the mundane.
Make it a daily practice to find beauty in the simple and you will see joy become easy to find.
In summary, to cultivate more peace in your life:
- Separate yourself from your children’s behaviour.
- Remember, you can’t bring someone closer if you don’t bring yourself closer first. Make sense of your story so you can write a new one.
- You manage your emotions first. Peace in your heart translates to peace in your home.
- Rediscover joy.
I would love for you to join me and others this summer, in my Thrive This Summer online course and group coaching. We will be learning more about these boundaries and working on them as a group.
Doing it alone is hard, but with the support of others, you can go so much further.