The gift I would give to all this holiday season is the gift of serenity. As my husband and I were out Christmas shopping yesterday, we talked about the things we want to give. The more we talked, the more I realized that the gifts that can be bought in a store are not the gifts I value the most. I thought about my clients who come to me with their depression, anxiety, confusion, fears, and I realized that I want to give each of them, and everyone, the gift of serenity.
I have the “Serenity Prayer” framed and it hangs in my therapy office, near my messy desk, where I submit insurance claims and complete my office paperwork. It is a well-known prayer, but I doubt that most people have stopped to think about the words:
What does it mean to accept the things we can’t change? Mostly it means that we can only change ourselves. We can’t ever successfully change another person. We can only change our reactions or responses to the things that other people do. I can’t change anyone except myself, and even changing myself is a struggle. Change is a huge challenge for us all. So instead of pointing the finger and demanding change of those around us, we each need to look inward, and figure out what we as individuals can do to bring about the change we wish to see in our families, communities, and nation.“The courage to change the things I can”…well, once we identify what needs changing (within ourselves first, our families second…the broader community), it does take courage to set about changing things. People cling to what is familiar because familiar is comforting,even when what is familiar is dangerous to us or destructive to our families. Change is often destabilizing, and frightening. That is why change requires acts of courage. Even something as little as saying no when we need to, and meaning it, takes courage. Learning to behave differently, no matter how small the change, requires daily acts of courage. So, celebrate the courageous moments when you have made effective changes, and be willing to celebrate the people you know. We are all struggling to be and do the best we can.
“The wisdom to know the difference.” Ah, that is where the serenity comes from….the wisdom. We can get caught up in fighting impossible battles, because we lack wisdom to know what and how to change. Learning how to love ourselves, respect ourselves, and to build changes on that platform of love is the beginning of effective change. I firmly believe that no one has ever successfully made permanent change in themselves by focusing their energy on self-hatred and making themselves feel unlovable. Having the wisdom to attempt change from a place of love….self love, love of family, love of community, is a wise plan. Deciding to change oneself, by building self-respect where there was none, and building healthy self-love where there was contempt, is an act of the highest wisdom. Deciding to let go of the things that are out of our control, the things that we can’t successfully change, is also an act of wisdom. Serenity is a gift that we give ourselves, by focusing our energy where it is productive, and letting go of the impossible jobs that we assign ourselves.
I wish I could give everyone the gift of serenity; calm, focused energy, fueled by wisdom and appropriate acceptance. If you need some help figuring out how to find your serenity, call me: 831-214-8087. I’d be happy to help you sort through your to do list, and scale it down to something achievable.
Wishing you and everyone serenity, today and every day.