What We Can Change vs What We Cannot
Dr. Rick Petronella
The Serenity Prayer is a wonderful prayer of surrender. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” ~ Reinhold Niebuhr
Peace is achieved when we remove the obstacles that get in the way of our peace.
Peace comes by identifying and removing ourselves from situations of disturbances from other people. We cannot change situations such as such as pandemics, natural disasters, events in the past, or today’s weather that may interfere in our plans. There are, however, disturbances we cause ourselves — these are situations we can change.
Understanding what we can change and what we cannot change is a often difficult for us to determine.
In Lessons From Extraordinary Lives, Katie Couric writes, “Be fearless. Have the courage to take risks. Go where there are no guarantees. Get out of your comfort zone even if it means being uncomfortable”. The road less traveled is sometimes fraught with barricades bumps and uncharted terrain. But it is on that road where our character is truly tested. We must have the courage to accept that we don’t have to be perfect, nothing is and that it’s okay.
The recovery community prays the Serenity Prayer often: Addicts cannot change the abuse suffered or inflicted. They cannot undo the choices they have made or the hurt they have caused. But they can change the future.
It’s true for all of us. If we can focus on making clear what we can control and what we cannot we will not only be happier, but also have the energy we will have an energy to assist us ion a day to day basis making the correct decisions and taking the appropriate steps as we navigate through life.
How we win these battles is to know what is within our control and what is not. And then, of course, teaching ourselves to stay focused on what is within our control rather than getting caught up trying to control that which is outside of our control.
We soon realize that, the only things within our control are the “choices we are making right this moment”.
Hence, the wisdom to know the difference “becomes the true key to change.”
“Our task in life is to identify and separate matters so that we can clearly see which are externals (not under my control), and which have to do with the choices I actually control.
Believing in ourselves and trusting that we are on the right path, and not being in doubt by following the myriad of those wandering in every direction. It is this state of mind, that produces tranquility.
Trying to seek clarity of vision which allows us to stay the course. It’s not to say we’re always going be able to do this, or that we even should. Rather, it’s that we can rest assured we’re heading in the right direction. We don’t need to constantly compare ourselves with other people or change our mind based on new information.
As we practice tranquility and peace, we will find our path and in sticking to it: staying the course—making adjustments here and there, naturally. Most importantly, ignoring the distractions that will lead us off course.
We will need to have enough self-awareness to say, “I am on this path intentionally.” Then we need to have the discipline to walk that path without constantly comparing ourselves to others and changing our minds about what’s important and what is not.
Always remember, that true peace comes from acknowledging and making positive changes with the elements in our lives that we can control, and by fully surrendering and accepting with grace the things in life that are not ours to control.,
Try not to allow yourself to be distracted, it is way too tempting, it will always lead to the wrong direction. … Stay the course.
The most important skill of all: Learn how to live, “not how to exist.”I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Therefore, choose life, that you and your children may live, Deuteronomy 30:19 .
Quiz: How Well Do You Take Responsibility for Yourself?
Years ago comedian Flip Wilson created a character named Geraldine, who excused her outrageous behavior by claiming “the devil made me do it.” Poor Geraldine, helpless and ineffective because she wouldn’t take responsibility for herself. In his book, Grow Up! How Taking Responsibility Can Make You A Happy Adult, Dr. Frank Pittman wrote, “Finding the responsible thing to do is the lifelong quest for grown-ups.”
Take the following quiz to find out how well you take responsibility for yourself. You won’t be scored at the end, but answer true or false to the following questions, and elaborate a bit on those that feel especially relevant.
T / F 1. I believe that my actions are the primary force in how I live my life, and that I am solely responsible for my actions.
T / F 2. When other people, events or circumstances affect my life, I am responsible for my reactions.
T / F 3. I take responsibility for my body and for my physical well-being. I eat healthfully, exercise regularly and maintain good hygiene.
T / F 4. I may not always be able to select co-workers or team members, but I am responsible for the companions I choose and the company I keep.
T / F 5. What I say and how I say it is my responsibility. So is listening well.
T / F 6. I am responsible for my own emotions. Someone else doesn’t “make” me feel a certain way.
T / F 7. My behavior with others is up to me—I’m responsible whether I “go along” with the crowd or remain passive in the face of actions or behaviors I don’t agree with.
T / F 8. My personal happiness is my own responsibility. It’s no one else’s job to make me happy or to give me what I need or want to be happy.
T / F 9. Everything in life is a choice, and I take responsibility for mine—both the good and the not so good. I also take responsibility for how I handle the results of my choices.
T / F 10. I accept responsibility for doing the right thing even though it may not always be the easiest path.
T / F 11. I am responsible for choosing the values by which I live.
T / F 12. How I spend my time is up to me. Even though I may be required to work a certain number of hours or to be present at a specified time and place, the quality of my time is my responsibility.
T / F 13. I am responsible for how I use the earth’s resources and realize that my decisions have implications that reach beyond the personal to the global.
T / F 14. I don’t wait for someone else to make my life interesting. It’s my responsibility to engage my curiosity, explore my interests, and follow my passions.
T / F 15. The manner in which I maintain my spiritual well-being is my responsibility.
T / F 16. Self-responsibility includes seeking solutions when I have problems and asking for help when I need it.
Although self-responsibility may not always be easy, the results are empowering and life-affirming. If you have any questions or if you’d like to talk about your responses to this quiz, don’t hesitate to call or write.