Societal programming tells us that the path to peace is to build walls and defenses, to create barriers to protect our selves, our families, our homes and our countries. But this kind of fear only creates separation, you against me.
The path to peace is through love.
I'm not talking about the kind of love where you give yourself up and deny yourself so others will be happy. That's not love. That's co-dependency. The path to peace is through real love.
Real love is when we get out of our heads and into our hearts. We stop performing, trying to win at life.
Real love is unconditional love. And it begins within each of us.
Allow me to share a little of my own story here to explain.
I used to be an angry mess. In fact, I was so angry that just months prior to winning Miss USA 1982, I put my fist in my boyfriend's window.
I lived my life trying to get it right, do it right, and to win at life. In other words, I performed trying to make everyone happy. But deep down, my true motivation was that I craved to feel loved. I believed the harder I worked and denied myself to prove that I was worthy of love that I would finally feel the love I wanted so much. But I never felt loved.
I was an emotional mess, living on a hamster wheel of anger, stress and struggle. And because life felt hard, I blamed others. That's why I put my fist in my boyfriend's window. I felt he wasn't meeting my needs, or seeing or hearing me. In other words, he wasn't loving me the way I wanted to be loved.
I felt life was a battle. I eventually carried this attitude into my marriage and as a mom.
Just like any mom, I wanted my home to feel peaceful and loving. I WANTED to FEEL peaceful and loving. I lived in my head, constantly trying to figure out what would make my family AND me feel whole. And because nothing worked, I often felt like a failure.
My guilt almost buried me. So I worked that much harder.
I knew my emotional angst was bringing pain and separation into our home. I could feel it. Walls were being built between my loved ones, and I had no idea how to stop it.
Nothing worked until...
I stopped blaming others and made a decision to heal.
I finally realized that if I wanted my family to feel peaceful and whole, I needed to end the battle between my head and my heart.
I made a decision to step off of the hamster wheel of daily life and took time to meditate each day. I asked myself questions like, "How can I honor God today by honoring the way I was created?" or "What would real love look like?"
During meditation, I was shown how to love and nurture myself. The more I followed the messages, the more supported I felt.
As I listened to the guidance of my heart and took action, I felt more love than I would have ever imagined! I didn't realize it at first, but I was slowly developing a deeper connection to God. This was a shock!
I had been raised to believe that loving myself and spending time taking a look at my life was wrong, but now I knew the truth: loving myself unconditionally is THE key to putting God first.
I got grounded in this new belief, and with each step of healing, I felt connected and loved on the inside. I felt enough. I felt whole. I felt a sense of peace that I never knew existed.
The more I loved myself and gave myself permission to stand in my truth, the anger, stress and struggle lifted. My walls came down and my heart exploded open.
For the first time in my life, I felt a sense of purpose. I wanted others to feel the peace and love I was experiencing. Instead of trying to control them to love me as I had done in the past, I encouraged them to put God first and love themselves unconditionally. That's when one of the most amazing miracles happened: As I healed, my family healed.
As I loved myself unconditionally, my family became peaceful and whole!
I had always believed that by working myself into the ground that I would make others happy and then there would be peace. And if there were peace, there would be love.
But it never worked that way.
In fact, it was just the opposite.
Peace begins with unconditional love.
As we each make a decision to heal and give ourselves permission to love ourselves unconditionally, we create a deeper connection to God. And in this alignment, we feel whole. We feel worthy. We live in a state of peace because we trust that all of our needs are met. And in this state of surrender, we finally open up to receive all the Universe has to offer.
No longer is life a competition. No longer is it "you against me."
Lack in our minds is what creates our struggles...in our lives...in our families...and in the world. It is what keeps us in separation and chaos.
Loving yourself ends lack, pain and suffering.
Loving yourself unconditionally IS putting God first.
LOVING YOURSELF UNCONDITIONALLY IS THE PATH TO PEACE.
I used to believe that putting God first meant that I had to put myself on the backburner, and that I had to treat others as more valuable than myself. I was never taught that I needed to love myself unconditionally to have a deep connection to God so that I could be at peace. Loving myself was never part of the equation
Loving yourself unconditionally is the path to peace. It's your greatest act of service to humanity.
I'll never forget the words of my late husband, Steve. He told me one day, "I feel better in my skin than I've ever felt."
I asked him why and he replied, "Because you forced me to it."
I wasn't sure what he meant and dug a little further asking him how in the world I did that.
He said, "When you quit caretaking me to find yourself, it forced me to find myself. And now I feel better in my skin than I've ever felt."
This is the gift we give others when we love ourselves unconditionally. As we find ourselves, we find the love within. We feel peaceful and whole. And before you know it, that peace and love overflow to the world around us.
THIS is the path to peace.
Peace in the world begins with each of us. And it starts with unconditional love.
Terri Britt is a spiritual coach, inspirational speaker, former Miss USA, and the award-winning author of The Enlightened Mom. Do you love yourself unconditionally? Are you in alignment and open to receive all the Universe has to offer? Are you are a vessel of peace and love? A good way to discover the answer is by taking The Worthiness Quotient Quiz. It's easy to do, just takes 3-5 minutes, and it's very eye opening! CLICK HERE to find out what your WQ is!