I was an elementary schoolgirl, and I remember singing with vigor: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me. Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be…” I remember being moved by that song, feeling deeply and tenderly the longing for peace.
So, what is “the peace that was meant to be?” Is it something “out there?” Where is it found?
In this world of turmoil, with homicides, terrorism, and seeming unsolvable conflict around us, it can seem like an impossible, idealistic dream to think of peace in this way. Yet perhaps it is not so far away—at least the individual peace that is available to each one of us. If we choose it.
Peace, after all, is as simple as acting in deep integrity with ourselves, honoring the gifts and strengths we’ve been given in a way that adds value to the world. As we do this, even when we do so imperfectly, we can still feel peace in our efforts to offer up what we have to make a difference for those around us.
Peace can also come to us as we choose responsibility for the needs of our own strengths, and find ways to use our own gifts and talents to respond to our own needs. Doing so helps us respond differently to our own frustration.
For example, I may feel discord when others operate haphazardly, without a plan, since my Achiever strength needs a goal, clear direction, and systematic movement toward the objective. I can feel frustrated and want to blame others if I am engaging with others whose strengths do not incline them to work in this way. I can actually introduce conflict by my response to my own needs.
I can also choose peace by changing the story I tell myself about what is happening. I can recognize that others have different things to bring—and that they need different things that I do in order to be at their best. I can, in a non-judgmental way, ask for what I need so we can work harmoniously together. I could ask to know what the goal is, and ask for clarification about how I can contribute to it. I can give people permission to find their way, and can talk openly and candidly with them about what they are hoping to bring to the situation, and what they need.
I can choose to reframe my frustration over and over again, every time a need of my strength is triggered, and it is not being met. I can deliver my strengths first to myself—and then to others. I can choose to be at peace, both with what I can bring to others, as well as what I can’t bring. I can also accept that others are not responsible to meet my needs or take care of me. The peace factor goes up a notch when I see the world this way.
Additionally, I add peace to my world when I stop “I should-ing” myself, and give myself permission to not have it all figured out right in this moment. I can grant myself grace, give myself the gift of non-judgment—so I can give that gift more readily with others. I can stop the internal war, and the white noise in the back of my head that keeps whispering that I’m simply not enough. There is nothing positive that comes from listening to that voice.
Maybe, at its simplest form, this is the more achievable ideal: “Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now. With every breath I take, let this be my solemn vow: To take each moment, and live each moment in peace eternally—let there be peace on earth—and let it begin with me.”
Perhaps if we end the war with ourselves—the war we choose to engage in over and over again—we would be one step closer to ending war on the planet.
For additional ideas about how understanding strengths can help you end the war with yourself, download the first chapter of our book: Unlocking Strengths—Accelerating Performance, Energy, and Relationships.http://strengthsstrategy.com/download-book/.
You are also invited to register for our upcoming webinar: Eliminating Toxic Interactions, Increasing Performance on May 29, 2015 9:00 AM CDT at:https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/972024720252202241.