The Harsh Truth I Had To Face Before I Could Be Happy

If you're chasing inner peace through meditation and other wellness pursuits, you may be missing something key.

woman with very short hair looks peacefully at the camera KIRAYONAK YULIYA / shutterstock 

We all want inner peace. We read endless articles and self-help books, spend time meditating, speak daily mantras in the mirror, and do perpetual self-work.

So why are we experiencing sweaty palms, a racing heart, sleepless nights, and endless stress if we're doing the work? 

First, let's talk about inner peace. Most of us immediately envision a serene monk meditating on top of a peaceful hill. At first glance, it already seems unattainable. But inner peace is simply a state of calm you feel inside yourself. It is an achievable state of mind that persists inside of you despite what is happening around you.


We know what we are supposed to do to achieve inner peace. We should meditate, we should take breaks from social media, be compassionate and kind to those around us, and practice breathwork. We are taking regular walks in nature, staying away from avoidable stresses, expressing ourselves when we feel overwhelmed, and we are practicing mindfulness.

So, why isn't it working?

RELATED: What 95% Of People Don’t Understand About Happiness

RELATED: 5 Hopeful Signs Your Life Is About To Become Much Happier


Building a strong foundation for emotional stability requires one more thing

Let's use an analogy. I build a house out of a weak foundation. I paint the house, I decorate it, and I can not understand why every time there is a storm, my home is damaged. It doesn't matter how much work you put in if the foundation is not solid.

If you have unresolved trauma, triggers you are not aware of, or a habit of self-sabotaging your own happiness, taking regular walks while doing breathwork won't be sufficient to acquire inner peace.

I know we all wish we could just breathe away our past; onwards and upwards. The issue with this is even if we don't think about our past it has an effect on us. If we are not conscious and self-aware our past trauma will cause us to recreate traumatic situations in hopes of a better outcome. Perhaps we were neglected as a child and we never really forgave our parents or dealt with the impact it had.

So we subconsciously seek out relationships in which we feel neglected hoping to change the outcome because if we do we will heal that inner child. Your brain wants you to heal. If you ignore your past it will find a way to re-create it so that you can truly move on from it. Sometimes we have to go backward to move forward.


RELATED: 11 Simple-Yet-Powerful Changes That Set You Up For The Happiest Life Ever

Let your past be your guide

In our quest for inner peace, we are often told to accept what we can not change or control. Your past is a great example of this. You might not have a time machine but you can change your reaction to it. You can forgive those who hurt you, not for them, but for yourself.

I grew up in a home where my parents hated each other. I was beaten for every little hiccup and I never knew what version of my mother I would come home to after school. Would she be in a rage, sobbing, or staring hopelessly into space? I left on my 18th birthday and moved out of state. A new beginning, a new life. I took every self-help seminar I could find and purchased every guided meditation I encountered.

Yet, anxiety was my conjoined twin. I had a lucrative job, a beautiful apartment, a new car, and a wonderful relationship. I couldn't understand what was missing. I could have moments of peace but they were always followed by hours of anxiety. When I started therapy we started at the beginning. I went over every traumatizing event in my childhood with a fine-toothed comb. I had blocked everything out so successfully that things started to come back to me as I relived my past. I talked it to death until the emotion was no longer there.


I took my trauma and turned it into a stand-up comedy routine. As I stood on stage making fun of the fact that my parents were incapable of loving me, I felt I had risen above my past. Not only did it no longer hold its value, I convinced myself and others to laugh at it.

RELATED: The True Meaning Of Life Isn't About Seeking Happiness

Your journey is yours alone — own it

The thing about self-help is it is not one-size-fits-all. What works for someone might not work for someone else. It is going to involve trial and error. But simply sweeping the past under a rug and moving on keeps you from building a solid foundation. Without that solid foundation, you will never have a high rise.

What can you do today? 


One of my favorite techniques is neuro-linguistic programming. We strive to detect and modify unconscious limitations, creating permanent change in someone's thoughts and behavior.

Check with yourself and ask, am I living in the past? Are you afraid of the future? Mindfulness involves recognizing the good and the bad inside of ourselves. We have all heard the saying, “Everything happens for a reason.” I personally don't believe that's true, but I do believe that if we choose to see it that way we will learn from everything that happens to us. Your past is a great example of this.

RELATED: 13 Little Things To Do Every Single Day To Manifest Happiness

Take an inventory, then plan for a better future

Here is a little exercise to try.


Replay your life in your mind, in a journal, or with a therapist. Mourn the loss, feel the anger, and find the lessons. It might take a little time, but this life inventory is well worth the effort

When you get to the present day replay your life again but this time on a movie screen in your mind. See yourself sitting in the theater watching your life unfold. Watch yourself watching your past unfold. This helps to create a degree of separation between you and the story of your past. See it as a movie that you learned from. Take the lessons with you as you walk out of the theater.

Throughout our life, we accumulate trauma and we usually want to move on from it as quickly as possible. But sometimes, we need to properly feel it and go through the trauma instead of simply taking a breath and moving on. We might think to ourselves we do not have the time to mourn but by ignoring it, it will just negatively impact every area of our life making our quest for inner peace futile.


A man whose wife just divorced him because he is unable to effectively communicate will not find happiness by simply finding a new wife. The problem is still there. We all want inner peace but sometimes you have to go through sadness to get there.

RELATED: The Harsh Reason Some People Always Seem Unhappy

Erika Jordan is an internationally acclaimed love and relationship expert, NLP practitioner, author, and media personality, and a leader in the field of digital romance and online dating.