“God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change what I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.”
The original script of The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr is a bit longer, but the above version has been widely adopted, and has provided guidance to countless people dealing with addictions and other personal struggles. For me, this simple prayer often pops into my mind and heart when I feel like I am energetically hitting a brick wall. That I am at in impasse with a situation or an individual, and there is nothing I can do to change it.
Accepting what we cannot change is hard work! I mean REALLY accepting. This is true with many variations of acceptance – allowing… going with the flow… “let go let God”… and so forth. All much easier said than done. So let’s explore further the meaning of “acceptance”, and thoughts on how to process through it. What I am talking about here is the energetic acceptance that comes from within the mind and heart – what can be thought of as emotional or psychological acceptance.
“Psychological acceptance is the active embracing of subjective experience, particularly distressing experiences. The idea is not merely to grudgingly tolerate negative experiences but to embrace them fully and without defense.”
Understanding and Enhancing Psychological Acceptance, James D. Herbert & Lynn L. Brandsma
With energetic acceptance, we might try to accept the situation, and even espouse that we have accepted it by lightheartedly saying “it’s all good”, but somewhere deep inside we know it is not “all good”. At least that is how it often is for me. I might even believe I have accepted a situation, but often it comes up again later for another layer of clearing, learning, healing, and spiritual growth. What’s wrong with me?? Nothing! This is normal. Our healing of deep wounds tends to work in rounds or layers.
Over the past year, I have been dealing with a particularly difficult personal situation. I won’t reveal names or details here. Even though I’ve been feeling a deep hurt, I know the other person is hurting too in their own way, and I do not want to betray a confidence. I will share what I can here, without crossing that line, in hopes that it will help you to let go… to “accept”… to realize what you can and cannot change… and through that find more peace of mind, and peace at heart.
About a year ago, someone with whom I have been close for years asked me to not contact them, without explanation as to why. They said they would let me know when they were ready to talk. I was hurt, but not totally surprised. I had seen this person showing signs of stress in the months leading up to this declaration. But I had not realized that I was a perceived source of their woes. So while I agreed to the request and did my best to honor it, I was also totally in the dark. I was hurting for myself, and hurting for this other person.
Being the type of person I am, I immediately went into deep soul searching. What had I done to offend them?? I started reliving conversations and situations over and over in my head, trying to figure it out. I wanted to fix the situation – to right any wrong that I had done. I knew that if I figured it out, I would find the courage, strength, and humility to make amends. After all, this is someone whom I love unconditionally, and I wanted to be ready when they were ready to talk. But I came up short. I could not figure out anything that would warrant this sudden extreme ghosting.
So I thought alright, I’ll just wait it out. I assumed it would be a matter of weeks. But weeks turned into months. The holidays came and went with hardly a peep from the other person. My attempt to arrange for some clearing between us in order to facilitate a harmonious holiday get-together was first met with a feign of reunion intention; but that turned into more of an expression of hostility from them toward myself and others close to us.
Let me pause here. I truly believe the other person is hurting. I truly believe that THEY believe what they are saying. However myself and others in our circle are seeing no basis in reality attached to their claims. I’ve had people close to me say “Linda you know it’s not you… it’s them and their path.” I had some more recently suggest that perhaps it’s karmic (other lifetime) experiences coming up for them, and that they are not able to discern past realities from current. I have thought that perhaps the other person is having vivid dreams, and with that they are confusing conscious versus unconscious experiences. (I know I have awoken from dreams before temporarily struggling to reconcile my dream with my real life.) Given these perspectives, I have reached a point where I have doubt that it will resolve within this lifetime. This relationship likely has become lost to me in this lifetime, and this prospect hurts my heart.
So where can I go from here? Certainly I can find learnings about how to be a better person, and about bolstering my compassion toward others dealing with mental health struggles. But what can I do for ME? I am hurting, and I go through waves of wallowing in this hurt.
It’s time for acceptance!
As I said earlier, “accepting” is much easier said than done. Let’s explore some ways to get acceptance “done” – or at least make progress toward it.
This is my go-to for any conflict. I know that I cannot change anyone but me.
For the current situation, I intentionally did a review of our life together. I came up with different points in time where perhaps I had a hand in the other person’s hurt. After about 10 months of waiting for the other person to reach out, I finally send them a letter, highlighting these situations. As I said to them “in the absence of information, the mind and heart make up stories…” And from there I presented what stories I was holding onto with no idea whether any were true, offering my perspective, attempting to clear up any misunderstandings or at least acknowledge where we might have different memories, hoping to lead to a meaningful conversation to reunite. That was met with an initial glimmer of hope for reunion, but only if I and others in our circle would admit to things that frankly are untrue. (Again, I believe that they believe their story, but I believe it to have no basis in reality.)
And at the same time, I reflected upon how this experience can support me with other relationships in my life. Because of this, I have proactively had conversations with some people near and dear to me, to make sure we are all in agreement to be completely honest with each other. At times when I catch myself stepping into situations that are none of my business, I circle back and apologize, and make a more conscious decision to stay in my lane so-to-speak going forward. So while this one relationship might be lost at least for now, the wound is helping me to strengthen other relationships, and for that I am grateful.
Self-reflection, with the intent of finding out what you can learn about YOU, where you can take some accountability, and where you can make changes in your life, beliefs, and behaviors, can be extremely empowering and healing. But please do not pursue self-reflection with the intention of “blaming”, not even blaming yourself. Blame has the effect of disempowering you. Learning through accountability has the effect of empowering you.
Use your Tools
What tools? My wrench? Hammer? Tape measure? No… none of those. Your self-care tools. These can be things to take care of your physical well-being such as healthy foods, hydration, exercise and rest. Many of us also have tools to take care of our spiritual or energetic well-being, such as prayer, meditation, discussion, and learning. And yes sometimes we benefit from indulging in our guilty pleasures – sweets, fictional books or shows, and so forth.
Whichever tools you use, I encourage you to choose the ones that empower and energize you. The ones that bring you more in alignment with positivity toward yourself, toward others, and toward the situation at hand. After all, if I am building a shelf and someone hands me a lighter, that won’t help at all!! I don’t want to DESTROY the wood, I want to ENHANCE it to make something useful and pleasing. And if I am creating a bonfire, picking up a hammer would be of no use. So choosing the right tool for the situation is important.
I would like to focus in on mediation and prayer. With these tools, we are connecting into the energy around us, and perhaps to our Higher Self or other higher energies. When you use these tools, be clear with your intentions. That your desire is to release the baggage in a way that you will learn what you are meant to learn, move toward a state of greater joy and harmony, and the release whatever has been holding you in a place of some form of darkness.
Employ your Network
When I wrote my blog “…with a little help from my friends…” last October, I was in the early stages of the situation that I am still writing about today. By tapping into the support of my friends – my closest soul family members – I was able to get over that initial hurdle.
Remember that you are never alone. If you are thinking that you have no one to turn to, ask yourself who is in your life that you would support unconditionally. Those people who you would metaphorically or perhaps even literally walk through fire to save. Chances are that they feel the same about you.
And if you are still coming up short, consider community resources available to you. Perhaps engaging a reputable counselor or social worker to help you talk through whatever it is that you are struggling to accept and move past.
Whether you are connecting with your known social network, or seeking professional assistance, I encourage you to find a support network that helps you step into your power. Someone who helps you find your accountability, and through that accountability find freedom, and through the freedom find peace of mind and peace at heart. I have learned through working with my clients that there are some “support systems” out there who will gladly help you figure out who to blame. Understand that if you are living in a state of blame, you are establishing an energy cord with the object of your blame, and in so doing you are draining yourself and giving away your power. Do yourself a favor – release the blame, release the judgements toward others, find your empowering lessons, and move on.
In my current situation, I keep reminding myself that the other person is in some way suffering. Although they might not appear to be suffering in public, I know that they are. But their journey is different than my journey. The tools they have chosen to use are different than the ones I have chosen to use. I have faith that this whole situation is somehow serving a higher purpose for them, and it is none of my business as to what that higher purpose is. I just pray that they receive whatever they are meant to learn or gain in a way that brings peace and harmony to their life, whether or not that means them returning to my life.
This is the energy of compassion. It is an extremely high vibration energy, and it feels great! It is about forgiving without receiving an apology (because no apology is needed). It is about sending love unconditionally despite feeling only bitterness coming back in return with no human resolution in sight. It is about envisioning them having a happy life, while also envisioning myself having a happy life, independent of the actions, thoughts, and feelings between us.
Please remember to also have compassion for yourself. After all, you are only human! Well, maybe not ONLY human, but your soul is riding around in a human body. (I talk more about this in my blog “Let’s have a soul to soul chat…”) So what – you got a little angry, or frustrated, or maybe said some things you regret. It happens! Allow yourself to learn from your own actions, and yes from your regrets, so that you can turn those regrets into wisdom, and then strength, and then freedom and gratitude.
I know I still have some healing to do with this situation. But I am moving more and more into a state of acceptance. Even writing this blog has helped me to move further along that path, so I thank you for indulging me.
What are your thoughts on Acceptance?
Where are you struggling to accept? Better yet, what tools or methods help you to find that Serenity for whatever it is that you cannot change?
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