Accept The Things I Cannot Change

May 28, 2010 — 27 Comments

I was thinking about the part of the serenity prayer that says “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change”.

Now, I’m not going to try and fool you into thinking that I go to NA/AA meetings all the time by talking the talk.

But, I do want to point out that there are a lot of things that I took away from my time in NA/AA that I find useful in my everyday life.

One of the things that I feel that I’ve struggled with has been the whole accepting the things I cannot change. Rationally I know the importance of this acceptance but I have struggled to take that rational thought and put it to use in my life.

That was until I heard myself telling my son “you do what you can, the very best that you can, and that is all you can do”. Boom! How simple. But could it truly be that simple to accept the things I cannot change?

What I’ve come to realize over the past week or so is that depending upon the situation you are faced with, it is to be expected that you are going to struggle over the possibility of whether or not you can change something.

There are some cut and dry type things like due to an unexpected expense, like your car needing work, you find yourself with a very small budget for the week. Out of this very small budget you need to be able to get gas and feed your family.

There isn’t anything you can do about the money you find yourself with for the week. That is the part of the equation that you cannot change. What you can do is to do your very best to spend that money wisely until you find yourself in a better situation money wise.

In this situation it would do you no good to get mad or sad about your budget. By getting mad or sad you are not at all changing the outcome of how much money you have for the week. So you accept the situation the way it is. The only thing that you have control over is how you deal with it.

In life you run into situations that make this money situation look like a day in the park. It is in those situations where it is completely appropriate to struggle with accepting the things you cannot change.

Just as a for instance, a while back I was faced with the situation of having a sibling that was in active addiction. He hadn’t admitted to himself that there was a problem and certainly was not at the point of accepting help.

That situation left me struggling with the idea that ultimately I couldn’t do anything to change it. I had to accept it, ride it out, do what I could with what I was left with and wait for it to play out. It was hard but I did it…I had no choice in the matter.

Now, all in all, the two situations I explained had the same components:

  • Being faced with a situation
  • Examining the situation to see if you can have any effect on the overall outcome
  • Accepting the situation for what it is and doing the very best that you can to deal with it in a healthy way

I now feel that by putting the “accept the things I cannot change” to use in even the smallest of situations in life I am learning a thought process that will allow me to lead a more peaceful life.

In the future when faced with a more complicated situation I’m hoping that because of practice I will better be able to spot and accept the things that I cannot change.

27 responses to Accept The Things I Cannot Change

  1. I should have also mentioned having to accept that my server was hacked and my sites had to be down for a few days…that was a tough one.

  2. Erin,
    On ‘accepting the things I cannot change’, I have to be careful I do not slip into my old standby problem solving method. “Ignore it and hope it goes away”. When I was active in adiction, I lost the ability to look at situations to see if they needed attention, never mind if I had to do something about it. I guess its all about awareness and balance.

    Bill Urell

  3. Bill – That is a really excellent point that I failed to mention. I think that this is the type of behavior that any addict gets accustomed to.

    I guess that is where the struggle comes in for me now. I know that I have the tendency to avoid acknowledging situations that need my attention. Because of that I have really made it a point to face any and all situations no matter how uncomfortable they make me feel.

    This new behavior has made it a little difficult for me to tell when enough is enough and I can’t do anymore and should just accept the situation for what it is. Live and learn I guess.

  4. Great insight here. Thanks for sharing this part of you.

  5. I’ve never had to watch an adult I love be in denial of active addiction.

    The addicts in my life are (some of) my children. Since they were under 18, we had a little more control over the situation…their choices were to go into rehab or lose our support. Thank God they both chose rehab and have celebrated 4 and 3 years of sobriety.

    If they were to choose to use now, I’d like to think I could cut off contact with them…

  6. I have had 2 recovery homes for over 10 years. I am 73 and I got tired and needed a break. Tried to find someone to run the homes, for the past year. I am worn out. I went to my church and tried everything. No avail. Then I got a letter in the mail last week that the landlord doesn’t want to renew my lease. Said we are a liability. I am resigned that it is something I cannot change. So very, very sorry. I was not an appropriate person for this. I have never used an illegal drug in my life, wouldn’t know one if I saw it, I don’t smoke, dont drink, but we have had a huge success rate with my graduates.

    • I am struggling accepting the fact that my girl is locked up in st. Louis and I am in Texas. I want to help and I am I just don’t know if I am helping her or hurting her. Only time will tell

  7. We are both addicts in recovery she seems to struggle more than I do. Being bi polar has a lot to do with her drug use every time she goe to St Louis this happens so hopefully this is her bottom let keep her in prayer her name is Gina m. Thank

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