"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."
The Serenity prayer has been widely used in self-help and recovery circles for decades. Sometimes in life, it can be more difficult to "accept the things I cannot change" than it is to "change the things I can”. So then, we give pause for discernment between the two. As you can see, it can become confusing to know what is our responsibility and what is someone else’s. Perhaps an easier way to define this is to question, what do we have power over, and what are we powerless over?
We have power over our actions and behaviours. Our attitudes and beliefs. Our choices, values, and our responses to situations. What are we powerless over? Other people. Their attitudes, beliefs, and choices…whether or not they like us. We are powerless over places, things, our past, and future outcomes of situations. Trying to control things that we are powerless over comes at a great cost to our well-being.
Accepting powerlessness does not imply weakness. As you can see from above, It teaches us that we are empowered to own our own life. Using and practicing this wisdom, we gain strength and courage. Peace and serenity.
Here are some ways to practice powerlessness:
Take responsibility and ownership of your life, rather than put your well-being on the expectations of other's actions or behaviours.
Become aware. Pay attention to how often you let negative thoughts enter your mind. Learn new tools to replace them with more positive statements.
Let go of outcomes. When you find that you’re assessing an outcome before it’s time, let go of it. Remove it from your mind. Choose to let life run its course, regardless of outcome.
Stay in the present. If you focus on the here and now, you aren’t worried or anxious about what may or may not happen tomorrow, thereby releasing yourself from expectations.
Focus on yourself. This isn’t about selfishness…It’s about releasing yourself from the worry of other people or situations. Focus on self-care and what you can do to make your life better.
Learn to set appropriate Boundaries. Taking on what we are powerless over in unhealthy. Take a timeout to evaluate if someone is crossing your comfort level and set an appropriate boundary in the spirit of self-care or to limit exposure.