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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Shabazz: The power of peace

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There’s a good chance that many of us are surrounded by chaos, rather it be worldly affairs or even in our own homes. You can’t turn on the news or open up social media these days without being exposed to some type of turmoil or drama. In our personal lives we have family issues, money problems and job challenges, to name a few. Is it even possible then to have peace? What does it mean to be at peace? Or to find peace? Is it only available when we are no longer among the living so that we can finally rest in peace? I venture to say it is not. We have the ability to have peace in our lives, even amidst the chaos and drama all around.

According to Webster’s dictionary, peace is described as a “state of tranquility or quiet; harmony in personal relations; freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.” I find most interesting the last definition because it centers on the role that self plays in managing and having peace. There is a responsibility we each have in maintaining our own peace but we must first address the peace blockers. Peace blockers are those things that simply get in the way of us even recognizing or obtaining peace. Here are a few examples:

Pain — There’s a Kirk Franklin song I enjoy titled “Wanna be Happy” and one of the lines talks about being addicted to the pain. For some, pain (emotional or physical) has become the normal resulting in a constant state of unrest or even a continual reliance or attraction to the pain source.

Guilt — Ever ruminate over something that you’re deeply sorry for? The situation is over, or the other person is beyond it, but you can’t move on. For example, I made a lot of mistakes and sacrifices early in motherhood and the guilt had me bound to the point that I blamed myself for my adult children’s incidents, actions and choices.

Trauma — Unaddressed traumas, particularly from childhood, manifests in our lives in various ways. At the root of anxiety, depression, anger, overachieving, low self-esteem, perfectionism, etc. could be things experienced in life that have been kept secret or swept under the proverbial rug.

Toxicity — Ever been around someone who is simply negative? There’s no good that they see, the glass is always half empty or they are quick to find something wrong with anything? Is this you? Toxicity shows up as pessimism, unaddressed resentment, negative thinking, speaking, acting, etc.

These are just a few examples of peace blockers and there are many more that could have been added to the list. I encourage you to think about other peace blockers that are in your life and do the work to address them. “Protect your peace” is a very familiar phrase that I’ve heard and have even used myself. Here are some ways I found that work with addressing these peace blockers and working to protect my peace.

Seek professional help from a therapist — Therapy helped save my life! It allowed me to understand my pain, guilt and trauma and provided me with the tools to heal, release and recover from them.

Engage in self-preservation — Everyone else’s stuff or drama does not belong to you. You have to recognize what’s intruding on your peace and resist the urge to engage and be pulled into others’ issues.

Prioritize radical self-care — Make yourself a priority, especially when your peace is unstable. Step away, give yourself grace, turn the phone off, exercise, get a massage, or meditate — whatever you need to do to recenter yourself.

One of my personal mantras is: “If I don’t have power over it, it won’t have power over me.” I now realize the significance of protecting my peace. Our physical, mental and emotional well-being are all great consequences of not prioritizing peace in our lives. Temporary peace (such as a relaxing vacation) is nice, but true lasting peace comes from addressing the peace blockers and maintaining the gateway to your life. Your peace holds so much power. May you do the work so you can live in peace now and not simply rest in peace later!

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” — 2 Thessalonians 3:16

Dr. Khalilah A. Shabazz shares wisdom, lessons and insights on personal, social and societal issues of today. Contact her at shabazzk@iu.edu.

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