Life and living it have a way of teaching us all lessons. Some are not what we want to learn but rather what we need to learn. Not all of Life is under our control just as most other people are not under our control. That’s a hard lesson to learn but one that needs to be remembered by many of us at all times.
There’s an old poem, The Serenity Prayer that possibly says it all as concisely and nicely as anything or anyone can say it.
Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change those things I can,
And, Wisdom to know the difference.
Not everything we do in a day, week, month year or even our entire lives will be serene. Serenity does not come from outside of ourselves but rather, from within.
We won’t always like what happens in our lives. There will be times when we’re feeling like our world is crumbling down around us. For the most part, it’s learning that there are things that we can do something about and other things which are beyond our control while knowing the difference which is what gives us that much needed serenity.
If we have done all that we can do then, we have no regrets. Having no regrets brings us a sense of serenity, even when all else around us is breaking down.
When we recognize that there are things that are not under our control and can let go of those things and move onto things that are within our control, we have the serenity of knowing that it was never ours to deal with in the first place and, whatever happens, was going to happen…good or bad. Again, no regrets.
- Nothing remains the same as everything is constantly changing.
- The only constant in life is change
- This too shall pass
It’s hard wired into us as human beings to want to do all that we can to solve crises that happen in our lives. None of us will get through Life without some form of it or another. It’s also in our nature to want to do something about everything we can unless of course, we are emotionally lacking EQ (Emotional Quotient) or have a form of inability to care about things in our lives. That’s rare. Most of us want to solve our issues now and when we can’t, we pray, hope, wish, keep good luck charms or even run away from those issues rather than face them and figure out how to deal appropriately with them. The one thing that we all know is that eventually, no matter what is troubling us, it will pass as nothing remains the same forever.
Key Questions To Ask Yourself:
- Is this situation really something that I can do something about?
- What can I do?
- What have I already tried to do about it?
- Did anything work to change it?
- How can I move onwards?
If you answered questions 1 to 4, it means that you’ve already tried. At the least, you have thought about what you have done or could do.
If you answered question 4 with a “nothing I’ve done has worked to change it”, it’s likely that it isn’t yours to do anything about and whatever happens, will happen. It also means that it’s time to move onto question 5 and figure out how to move onwards while the situation(s) evolve or devolve into the way that they’re going to go.
How To Move Onwards
- Recognize that you’ve done all that you can and there’s nothing left for you to try. Key to this point is remembering that continuing to do the same things and expecting a different outcome is the definition of either obsession or insanity.
- Offer the situation up to either a Higher Power such as “The Universe” and leave it there or, if you don’t believe in anything higher than us, recognize that you are limited in your ability to solve it. That’s key.
- Though you may not want to or it may hurt, moving away from the person or situation may be your only choice. It’s not easy and it doesn’t always mean a geographical move but, rather one of emotionally distancing yourself from the person or situation.
- Get busy! Find other things that you can do something about. We all have many things in our lives that we can find to occupy not only our time but, also our thoughts. Doing laundry, getting out with friends, joining a group or club of others with like-minded interests, listening to music, journalling our thoughts, volunteering for those who need help, taking up a hobby of your interest, working out, getting away on a vacation, changing jobs if possible, leaving work at work, moving stations if possible at work to get away from the person causing you the issues, talking your feelings out with a loved one or good friend…even a certified counsellor, just do something else that takes you away from the person(s) or situations that are bothering you helps. Remember that a mental break from it is equally helpful as it is to move away physically.
- Staying in the “now” is overrated with some things. During times of great stress or upset, staying focused on the negative happening in your life is not helpful. Distract yourself during those times by doing things you love, or by enjoying a cup of tea, coffee, warm milk, or whatever it is that you like. Taking a walk, or observing other things that appear normal to you, will help.
- No matter how badly you feel at the time, things will change and it will pass. Remembering that will oftentimes get us through our roughest times. Time is a wonderful healer and getting away even mentally can help us pass the time until things change if there’s nothing left for us to do to change it.
- Get away from people who are abusive. You’re likely not going to change the abusive person unless they express the wish to change. Even then, unless they are seeking out professional help or showing great attempts and making progress at changing, they’re not likely to become someone or something you’re going to want or will be helpful in your life. Extricating yourself or even spending less and less time with them, is helpful. The more you concentrate on doing things with people who are more positive, the more you are going to feel positive. That attitude might be all it takes for you to finally realize that you’re worth more than what this person is handing you and you’ll move onto others who will give you what you need and deserve more fully.
- Grieving the loss of ability to change things or people only lasts for so long before one becomes tired of waiting around for change to happen. If you can make other choices, make them. Don’t just sit and wait around for change to happen. Get on with your life and interests, needs, wants and doing what you can for yourself that can help you through the grief. Grief ends at some point or another. At the least, it lessens in intensity which allows you to move forward again. Take that step and move forward.
- A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. It takes putting one foot in front of the other and taking one small step at a time before we realize that we’re miles away from where we were to begin with. That’s forward movement. Whether you are one step or several thousand away from where you first began, you are moving in the right direction as long as you are moving forward.
- Never down-play yourself to yourself or anyone else. You are worthy of being here and being happy just as much as everyone else is. You are no more and no less than anyone else. You deserve to be happy. Take aim at happiness and move towards it while letting things go that you can’t do anything about.
Last but, not least, think about the fact that we have power over only so much in our lives. No matter what else, we have the power of free will or choice. Make the choices that are propelling you towards things that are good, healthy and joy inducing versus staying put, banging your head against a wall in trying to change what was never yours to change in the first place. If you’ve done all that you can think of doing or if it’s someone else’s responsibility…drop it and move on. No regrets.
From my little corner of life, serenity comes from knowing when to stop trying to change something you cannot change and learning to recognize the difference.