This is part two of looking at the Serenity Prayer to discover the lesson in it for each one of us. If you missed the Wednesday blog which was part one please go to the archives on the right hand side of my website so you can get the frame of the discussion. The Serenity Prayer, ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference’ can change your life.
I had asked you to consider which approach is HARDER for you -accepting the things you cannot change or actually changing the things you can change in your life. Assuming you have decided which approach you have a tendency to avoid I would ask you now to ask yourself ‘Why’ five times. Seriously, with each answer ask yourself why this is true for you. Usually the fifth and final time you drill down in you thinking as to the ‘why’ the real ‘Aha’ happens.
If change is the hardest approach for you consider the following. Changing the things we can change involves both confidence and trust in ourselves. The thousands of messages we received and events we experienced as we were growing up made indelible marks on our lives. What are a few of the messages that you received that have ended up controlling your life? For instance, if you were raised in an atmosphere of fear with messages such as ‘Don’t do this or something bad could happen,’ the initial warning might have been for your physical safety. But when you constantly hear this message of fear over and over you begin to generalize it to your entire life. You may feel out of control when something new pops up that you didn’t expect. You might then find yourself getting angry, lashing out when something – anything upsets your apple cart. You might prefer to keep life as it is so you can ‘depend on it.’ Well – news flash – that’s not going to happen. The truth is that the more you try to control your life the more insecure you become since The Universe just has a way of throwing us curve balls.
Learning how to control our fears is more than a survival mechanism it is a cornerstone to developing serenity. Just think about all that you have worried about over the last two weeks and the time you devoted to imagining the worst thing that MIGHT happen. There is a saying that 99% of what we worry about never happens. I believe that to be true. If you let fear control your life the Universe will just continue to present you with lesson after lesson (each one getting more difficult along the way) until you begin to TRUST in yourself. Think about the things in your life that have been really, really tough – did you survive? Yes! Was is hard – absolutely! Did you learn from it? I’m willing to bet you did.
Fear is the most insidious of emotions. It robs you of the moments of joy in life and puts you in a constant state of nervous tension regarding what could go wrong next. It also causes you to refuse to change the things you could change in your life because it paralyzes you into inaction.
We all learned a certain degree of fear from our parents. My mother was consumed by fear. You name it and she was afraid. Growing up I had the choice to accept those unwarranted fears or think to myself, ‘What is the worst thing that could happen’ given a particular situation and followed this thought up with ‘Could I survive if it did happen?’ Practicing this mindset I slowly developed a confidence that allowed me to face – head on – the challenges in life knowing I would survive, I would make it and ultimately be stronger in the process. She was not wrong in pointing out things to be mindful of, but it was the degree to which she applied fear to her life that had the potential to negatively effect my ability to change the things I could change.
The good news is that we know more about the effects of fear now. We can change our mindset about change and decide to grab the next opportunity as it presents itself knowing we will survive. As we expand our comfort zone, our lives become richer, fuller and more enjoyable. We learn to seize the moment, control our fears of the new or unexpected and move forward in life. Inch by inch it’s a cinch!
The next blog will be looking at the issue of acceptance – accepting with grace and humility those things we truly cannot change in life and moving forward with peace.
Until then, have a great few days!