It’s probably impossible to be truly happy without having peace with yourself. Of course, finding that peace is also one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do. Like most great truths, it is paradoxical.
Most people would say that peace with yourself means accepting yourself unconditionally, no matter what, warts and all. The paradox is that it’s not really enough only to accept yourself, because human beings don’t function in isolation. In fact, isolation may have more capacity to cause malfunctions in us than almost anything else. Research proved a long time ago that the worst punishment our penal systems can give isn’t a beating, it isn’t Chinese water torture, it’s solitary confinement. People who have been isolated for years as a result of plane or boat crashes have been found more prone to mental illness even after they’re returned to civilization, and in some cases could be driven completely insane by their lack of human contact.
Oftentimes, we don’t think this way. In fact, if you take away the struggle to survive, I bet some time off on a tropical island with no one else around sounds pretty great to some of you. Be careful what you wish for! There’s a very good reason that humans are built to be social.
The main control mechanism in your automatic functioning systems makes all the most important decisions based on whether it’s receiving a fear-based signal or a love-based signal. A love-based signal prompts your brain to mandate, health, happiness, and positive thoughts. In other words: peace. A fear-based signal, as you’ve probably guessed, does just the opposite. Not only does it influence your thoughts and feelings, it can keep you from sleeping or prevent your metabolism from working correctly, which can cause you to gain unhealthy weight even though you’re not overeating.
If you think about it, there can be no love outside of relationships. It doesn’t exist. Whether it’s a relationships with others, yourself, or God, love always comes in through a relationship. This is why, as I’ve said before, any issue in your life, no matter how it seems, always goes back to a relationships issue. Whether trauma, anxiety, cancer, or financial problems. It’s all really about a relationship with someone at some time. And since we can inherit these issues from our ancestors, it could have been a hundred years ago or a hundred minutes.
By know you probably see what I’m getting at. You can’t just be at peace with yourself. To do that, you have to be at peace with all the relationships of your life, and that’s one of the very hardest things to do. But to look at it another way, fix your relationships, and you’ll often find that it fixes everything. I can’t count the number of times when healing the underlying relationship problem has caused a person’s surface-level symptoms to disappear, many times almost like magic. Relationships are not an easy answer to this question, and I’m sure it’s not the one many of us wanted. However, it’s what makes our lives meaningful. Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised.