Mikumi Safari Park, Tanzania

Mikumi Safari Park, Tanzania 2016.

 

One thing I’ve been learning this year is how important it is to protect your peace. I say it a lot – I tweet it a lot, too, and it was the advice I gave a friend recently when she was facing a tough decision that had her feeling extremely anxious. But it’s so important. Society has pressures and voices and opinions flying at us in all different directions, telling us how we should look, who we should be, whether or not we’re popular or acceptable – and occasionally it can leave us feeling overwhelmed. So, I wanted to share my thoughts and tips to hopefully help you if you’re feeling this way.

 

Social Media

Social media can get loud, at which point it’s important to adjust the volume. I really learnt the value of that this week. My church at uni spent three days fasting and I gave up Twitter (which was difficult at first!), but I really noticed how much peace comes when you take time off of social media. Every social media platform is built on the basis of people’s voices being heard, people sharing their views, thoughts and opinions – and then other people showing their approval, through likes, retweets, comments and favourites. It’s all about voices, approval and popularity. As someone with a public platform, I’ve learnt this year that sometimes it can get pretty loud, and people can get caught up in the hype. Take some time out. There’s more to life than social media.

 

Vibes

Everyone has the capacity to be negative, but being around people who constantly give off more negative vibes is toxic. People who are putting you down, disqualifying your dreams, belittling your efforts, making you feel inadequate? My advice would be to limit your exposure to them, as far it is possible – or, at least, to decide not to take their words to heart. I’ve learnt that a lot of the time, a person who is unnecessarily and constantly negative towards you is more expressing their view of themselves or where they’re at in their life than they are anything about you.

Sometimes it’s not just negative people. Occasionally it’s people who just give off a vibe that doesn’t gel with you. It happens a lot with friends who show their true colours, and as much as it’s disappointing, if you’re questioning someone’s heart or motives towards you, it’s usually for good reason, in my experience. Take a step back. Look at the vibes and voices at play in your life and in your circle. What needs to change?

 

Decisions

In your decisions, protect your peace. If you’ve got a tough and important decision to make, and one option is causing you serious anxiety or unease, go with the option that protects your peace. The one that doesn’t compromise your values, and that you honestly believe you’ll look back on and be happy with in future. In most cases, that’s a wise decision. I’m learning that, as far as possible, the option I choose should try and meet both conditions  – a decision that gives me peace now and will give me peace in the future – although it’s not always easy to identify. Sometimes a decision that will lead you to the most growth and force you out of your comfort zone might make you feel uneasy now, but you’ll be thankful for it in future.

If you’re really struggling, I’ve found a good place to start is to decide what my priorities are. What is most important in this situation? What matters or will matter most in the long run? What are my reasons for this decision, and as far as I can tell now, will I look back and be at peace with it in the future? There’s always an element of the unknown with these things, but as long as your motives and intentions are pure, I think your answer lies there.

I hope this has been some food for thought. Protect your peace: manage the voices online and in real life who can influence you; avoid extreme negativity or vibes that make you uneasy; make decisions that you’ll be at peace with in the future. It’s not always that easy or straightforward, I know. But I’ve learnt it’s a good general rule to live by, because at the end of the day, there’s nothing worth exchanging for your peace.

If you’re feeling anxious, and would like to read a Bible verse for encouragement, I’d say check out Philippians 4:6-7:

 

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (MSG)

 

Lots of love,

Imani x

 

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