At the start of last year, I made a commitment to myself to value “peace” above all else. This meant making changes to my lifestyle, but above all, my mindset.
And it’s not easy, I’ll tell you that!
But bit by bit, I can see the difference these changes have made to my mental health and overall well-being.
Below, I’ve detailed a few core things that I tackled – things that cause stress without us realizing it.
So, if you really want to live a peaceful life, start saying no to these 8 things.
1) Overcommitting yourself
I know we live in a society that promotes always being on the go. Packing a million and one things into your day. AND still finding time to help others.
But none of the above is good for making a peaceful life.
If you find yourself constantly saying “yes” to everything that needs doing, you’ll quickly find yourself overwhelmed, stressed out, and tired.
So the next time someone asks you to organize the next charity bake event, whilst you’re also juggling five other things in your personal life, take a second before answering.
- Can I realistically fit this into my schedule?
- What will I need to sacrifice in order to commit to this?
- Will this be detrimental to my downtime?
Get to know your body and your limits. And don’t feel bad if you have to say “no” to requests – you can’t pour from an empty cup.
2) Negative self-talk
There’s only so much we can do about the chaos of the world around us, but we can control the chaos within.
Our inner voice.
This is the one that, if you allow it, will tell you you’re a failure when you don’t complete a task perfectly.
It’s the same voice that keeps you awake at night as you recount every embarrassing mistake you’ve ever made.
And it’s the whisper telling you that you don’t look good enough every time you look in the mirror.
This voice is incredibly powerful, but it can be worked on.
Whenever you feel your inner critic creep out, try to reframe your thoughts. One thing that helps me is to imagine I’m talking to a friend instead of myself.
Nine times out of 10, this inner voice becomes much more compassionate, gentle, and forgiving.
3) Toxic relationships
Our relationships have a significant impact on us.
Good friends lift us up and make us feel positive. Bad do the opposite.
That’s why if you want a peaceful life, it’s time to say “no” to the toxic people in your life. Whether that’s a narcissistic mother, a manipulative friend, or a crappy partner.
It’s something I’ve made a conscious effort to do – a spring clean of my social circles if you will.
And while it isn’t easy to end such relationships, oh the peace it’ll bring you. It’s worth it.
If you can’t cut them off completely? Learn to set strong boundaries to protect yourself.
The same goes for when you meet new people. Try to take things slow and really get to know them before committing to a friendship or relationship.
As you observe them, ask yourself whether they’ve got similar values to you.
If you notice that they love drama, for example, you should probably stay clear of them.
4) Unnecessary stress
Sometimes, we have to make decisions about whether it’s worth involving ourselves in certain situations, especially if they run the risk of being stressful.
For example, I was invited to a party the other week. I like the couple who are hosting, but I know their friends can be quite rowdy and difficult.
I decided that after a long week of work, it would add unnecessary stress if I attended the party. Things usually end badly, so I stayed home, cooked a lovely meal, and enjoyed the evening with my partner.
In the past, I would have gone, only to regret it afterward.
Another thing most of us are guilty of doing is overthinking and over worrying.
This can cause a lot of inner turmoil and stress.
I suggest focusing on the present and reminding yourself that worrying literally won’t change anything. Meditation may help you with this.
Essentially, it’s about identifying areas in your life where there are opportunities to cut out stressful situations, thoughts, and experiences.
5) The need to please everyone
As a former people pleaser (who still struggles with it from time to time), let me start by saying, I feel your pain!
You hate disappointing people and that’s why you go above and beyond. For everyone.
It’s probably also why you overcommit, as we discussed earlier.
But here’s the thing – you can’t have a peaceful life if you’re constantly trying to please everyone else.
At some point, you need to start prioritizing yourself.
Growing up, I wasn’t as religious as the rest of my family. But I pretended to be, to fit in and keep the peace. But it honestly caused me a lot of tension within.
After every family visit, I’d be exhausted.
Until I started prioritizing peace. From then on, I was honest with my family about who I am and what my beliefs are. I don’t put on a front anymore because I’m not afraid to upset people.
And as you probably can guess, my inner sense of peace has never been so strong.
6) Living beyond your means
Another thing to say “no” to if you want a peaceful life is being pressured into living beyond your means.
You know how much money you earn a month, and how much goes towards bills, mortgage/rent, food, transport, and so on.
If you’re on the ball, you’ll budget and spend accordingly.
But often, we feel a need to keep up with everyone else. I know so many people in debt because they just needed to get the latest iPhone or designer handbag.
Sure, those things are great. So are takeaways three times a week and building a spa pool in your back garden (even though you live in the UK, where it rains 90% of the time).
Get my drift?
When you spend more than you can afford, you struggle in other areas. Not to mention, the weight of having a debt over your head is pure torture – not the peaceful life most of us envisage.
7) Excessive use of technology
I haven’t quit technology yet, but I’m close to it.
It’s probably one of the last things I need to tackle to really embrace peace as part of my lifestyle. Especially social media.
In theory, social media is great for keeping connected to people around the world. But there are also negative consequences to using it too much, such as:
- Information overload/fatigue
- Seeing unrealistic lifestyles and making comparisons
- Feeling insecure/a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out)
Be very selective about who you follow and the content you view online.
Aside from fake news, social media can give a warped sense of reality. Because a lot of it is fake, but it still leaves us feeling like our lives aren’t good enough.
And finally, turn off the TV. Put your phone away for a few hours.
Do things in the real world that you love. You don’t need to be accessible 24 hours a day – especially if such interactions make you feel pressured to always respond.
8) Holding onto grudges
And finally, say “no” to holding onto past hurt.
I know that’s easier said than done, but when you make peace with your demons, they stop coming back to haunt you.
And the best part?
You don’t need to talk to those who have stung you. You can forgive them in your heart and move on with your life.
Remember – forgiveness doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten. It doesn’t mean you’re excusing their behavior.
It’s something that you can do for YOU. To allow yourself to move forward and stop holding onto resentment and anger.
If you can say “no” to the points above, your life will significantly become more peaceful and tranquil.
It won’t happen overnight, but day by day you’ll notice the difference. I’m two years into my journey and wouldn’t change a thing – I have no doubt you can achieve the same.
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