Balance purpose, relationships, and self-care

Empathy works. It always does.

A Peace Agreement for Our Country

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creating-true-peace-book-front-pageAfter the elections, one thing that stands out to me is the need to create circles of listening. With myself, with family and friends, and especially with those who have different points of view. I want to understand the beautiful needs behind all choices. I want to collaborate to find solutions that work for everyone.

I love and have adapted the Peace Agreement that Thich Nhat Hanh offers for such conversations in “Creating True Peace, ending violence in yourself, your family, your community, and the world“, 2003.

I invite you to read it and edit it to adjust to your truth. Find others to agree to it, so that you can have the support of a community.

And if we can’t find anyone to collaborate with us, we can hold this mindset as a vow to ourselves when listening to people whose choices scare, upset, or anger us.

Without listening we are stuck in our segregated circles. With listening we can build bridges of understanding, love, and connection. One step at a time.

I, the one who is angry, scared, or upset, agree to:

  • Refrain from saying or doing anything that might create more damage or escalate anger, fear, or upset.
  • Practice mindful breathing to take care of my anger, fear, or upset.
  • Calmly, within 24 hours, find the empathy I need to understand which needs triggered my feelings so that I can speak responsibly about my experience, using loving speech.
  • Verbally or in writing ask for an appointment to talk about the matter more deeply, preferably with a community of mindful supporters.
  • Practice self-connection. I will not deny or suppress my feelings, and not say: “I’m not angry, scared, or upset, it’s fine. I’m not suffering. There’s nothing to be angry, scared, or upset about.”
  • Practice self-acceptance. I will look deeply into my daily life -while I’m sitting, standing, walking, or lying down- in order to see:
  • *How I myself have been unskillful at times.
  • *How my own unmindful habits have contributed to hurt in the other person.
  • *How my thoughts, needs, and the energy of my feelings are the primary cause of my anger, fear, and upset. How the other person is the stimulus of my feelings, not the cause.
  • Reflect that I cannot be truly happy, as long as the other person suffers.
  • Express my mourning for my unskillfulness and lack of mindfulness, without shaming or blaming myself, as soon as I have that insight.
  • Postpone any meeting, until I am openhearted enough to meet the other person with the love and respect I choose to bring into the world.

I, the one who contributed to the other person’s feelings of anger, fear, and upset, agree to:

  • Respect the other person’s feelings, not judge or deny them, and allow them enough time to self-connect and restore balance.
  • Not press for an immediate discussion.
  • Confirm their request for a meeting, either verbally or by note, and assure them that I will be there, and that my intention is to respect everyone’s needs for acceptance, understanding, and love.
  • Practice mindful breathing and looking deeply to see how:
  • *I have mistakenly thought that making others suffer might relieve my own suffering.
  • *I am suffering when I contribute to their suffering
  • Express my mourning for my unskillfulness and lack of mindfulness, without shaming or blaming myself or others. I will be aware that efforts to defend, explain, or justify myself indicate that need more support to act with the love and respect I cherish.

We vow with all our heart and in the mindful presence of our community to practice wholeheartedly. We ask that our community helps to protect us and grant us wisdom.


What have you committed to to bring more peace in yourself, your communities, and this world? Let me know. I’d love to be inspired.

Author: Elly van Laar

I am a coach. I specialize in helping professionals schedule time for relationships and self-care. I have a Master's degree in Political Science, Leiden University, the Netherlands. I love meditation, walking, gardening, biking, and hanging out with family and friends.

One thought on “A Peace Agreement for Our Country

  1. blockquote, div.yahoo_quoted { margin-left: 0 !important; border-left:1px #715FFA solid !important; padding-left:1ex !important; background-color:white !important; } Thank you Elly. I need this book very much. I will order it. Blessings and love to you Jen 

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad

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