Have you been busy trying to change what you cannot change?
Are you doing your best to control what you simply can’t control?
If so, please know—you’re not alone!
It’s strange but true—a great many people all over the world are continually trying to change something that is not in the realm of things they can change. When it’s drastic enough, we see it on the news—generally as some kind of violence toward somebody else. For most of us, however, this tendency goes relatively unnoticed—except perhaps by those you’re trying to mould into the way you think you need them to be. If you’re someone who believes that others need to be different in order for you to feel better, then you’re likely feeling hurt, frustrated, confused, and resentful much of the time. You probably feel as if your life is often spiralling out of control and you don’t know what to do about it.
The Amazing Serenity Prayer
During the many years I attended 12-Step programs for my own addictive behaviours, I heard the Serenity Prayer recited over and over again, quickly and by rote, at the end of every meeting without exception. Everyone had it memorized and we’d all just sing-song our way through it. But I became curious about what this prayer was really saying—what the message behind it actually was—so I began to look at it in some detail, line by line.
I discovered some very intriguing ideas: If we don’t feel serene or calm, we are not fully practicing the amazing guidance of this short but magnificent prayer. If you are the loved one of someone with an addiction, or perhaps an addict yourself, then serenity is not something you’ll have very much of. The roller coaster ride of addiction—however it’s manifesting and affecting you—is never fun or easy. And not only will you not have much, if any, serenity in your life, it will truly become something you’re wanting very much to attain.
To gain this peaceful serenity and resolve what we can about our situations, we first must be willing to accept what we can’t change. When we look deeply enough at what those things are, we realize that this means absolutely everything outside of ourselves: the weather, the past, how fast time is going, how temptingly delicious chocolate tastes—and most especially other people, who we simply cannot change unless they let us. And, of course, when it happens that way, it’s not really a case of us changing anyone else anyway!
Next we need to look at what we actually can control. After all of my years of wishing I could exert control over the world and pretty much everything in it, I finally had to admit that the only thing any of us can control is—drum roll—ourselves. What we can control and therefore change includes our thoughts, our feelings, our choices, and our reactions. We can solve problems that WE each have, but not the problems someone else has—because those are their responsibility to solve. [Read more…]