Do you remember the show Seinfeld? I’m probably showing my age here, but some of my favorite memories from childhood are of watching that show with my dad on weekdays after school. We laughed until our bellies hurt with the relatable humor of Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer.
George was easily one of my favorite characters. I loved his curmudgeonly attitude, his general angst toward life and the people in it. I think, if we’re being honest, George represented the parts of ourselves that we felt almost constantly but that we were all trying our best to suppress. You know, to maintain the appearance of being a chill girl.
A George quote that I find myself repeating almost constantly in my head is, ”we are living … in a SOCIETY!” It was George’s way of commenting on the generally self-involved and inconsiderate nature of humanity. His point was that human beings are social creatures who live in an interconnected world. It benefits us all to be mindful of others. But so often, we find ourselves feeling ignored, overlooked, and indelicately treated by the people around us.
This, dear reader, is why we have to learn the practice of protecting our peace. I’ll admit I still have a lot of work to do in that regard, but here are a few of the things I’m doing these days to help protect my peace in a world that so often hurts:
#1. I do not beg for my people to take me into consideration.
I am a mindful, vigilant person. I look out for my people. I deserve the same, and I will not beg or convince anyone of that. Either you show up for me and you are welcome at my table, or you don’t and I will give your seat to someone else. But we don’t need to have a conversation about it.
#2. The only feelings I am responsible for are my own.
I will always be responsible for my kids’ emotions while they are small and still learning how to cope with their feelings. But I will not accept responsibility for taking a care of any grownup’s feelings but my own.
#3. I have to decide carefully what is worthy of my attention.
I used to march blindly into every argument or disagreement that came my way. This brought a lot of strife and discomfort into my life. These days, I recognize that my time, energy, and attention are limited. I am meticulous about how I doll them out.
#4. I embrace exercise as a part of my mental health routine.
Exercise is vital to keeping my mental health in check, but only when I handle it with care. When I get focused on exercise as a way to alter my appearance, it can become a detriment to my mental health. Exercise is now about maintaining my happiness and sanity, not a number on a scale.
#5. I journal about things before I speak about them.
Is this a conversation I need to have, or is it something I can resolve by getting the feelings out on paper? This is a mindset that has brought enormous peace to my life. The truth is, I can have a major emotional reaction to something, only to realize later that it wasn’t as big a deal as I thought. By journaling about my feelings, I give myself space to figure out whether my feelings are valid and therefore warrant a conversation, or if I over-reacted and don’t need to make it a bigger deal than it was by talking about it.
#6. All social media notifications are permanently turned off.
Social media is a brutal place. I don’t need the constant intrusions coming directly to my phone and disrupting my peace. I love interacting with my online community, but it has to be on my terms. I choose when I expose myself to both the good and the bad that social media brings.
#7. I’ve stopped worrying about how many friends I have.
I used to believe that the truest sign of how likable I am is how many friends I have. That mindset caused me to keep a lot of people in my life who didn’t deserve to be there, purely because more friends meant more validation that I am a good and likable person. These days, I realize that a lot of people are terrible at friendships. And that’s not a reflection on me at all. I keep a minimal number of friends, but they are the right friends for me.
#8. I am responsible for getting my needs met.
It is no one else’s job to make sure my needs are getting met. I do not expect people to read my mind, to anticipate my needs if I haven’t spoken them. Getting my needs met means either taking care of them myself, or communicating honestly with people when I have a need that I can’t meet by myself.
These eight values I’ve begun to live by have radically reshaped by life. I am finally finding peace — the true kind that can only come from within.
Please feel free to take these values for yourself. Then, take some time and add your own. You deserve to be the arbiter of your own peace in a world that has forgotten what societies are meant for.
Amber Wardell is a doctor of psychology and author who speaks on women’s issues related to marriage, motherhood, and mental health. Subscribe to the free newsletter to get exclusive content delivered to your inbox and to never miss an upload.