Raging Against What Is

people-1316292__340Do you ever find yourself in a situation that is totally unacceptable and yet there isn’t a darn thing you can do about it? This can be one of the greatest sources of frustration in your life. I like to quote from the Prayer of Serenity used by Alcoholics Anonymous:

“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.”

I’ve written previously about the fine line we walk between complacency and acceptance; between moving forward with enthusiasm and confidence versus living with the circumstances that we’ve been given. My patients will never hear these words from me, “You just have to learn to live with it.” I don’t give up. I don’t believe that because a solution doesn’t immediately present itself or that I don’t currently know of any way to provide meaningful treatment for a specific issue right now, that the solution to the problem does not or will not exist. How arrogant it is for a doctor to say that if they don’t have the answer, there is no answer!

Let’s look at that Prayer of Serenity. The first request is to have the serenity to accept the things you cannot change. The fact is that there are things you cannot change, at least not in a big way or right away. Imagine that there’s a hurricane bearing down on your city and your house is right in the way. You can board up your windows, secure your belongings and head for higher ground. However, you cannot stop the hurricane! You can rage against it all you want, but it will come whether you like it or not. Perhaps prayer and positive thinking could change its course. However, you yourself do not have the power to stop it or change it in any way.

The second request is that we have the courage to change the things we can. If there is anything that can be done to improve a situation, certainly we should act. Sometimes it does require courage. Remember, if it were easy, you would have done it already. We can do hard things. We can move forward even when the odds seem to be against us.

Lastly, the prayer asks for the wisdom to know the difference between what we can and can’t change. There’s the real kicker. We can so easily be blinded. Our judgement is often clouded by strong emotions. We can feel helpless even though we may be surrounded by solutions. Or we can be ignorantly over-confident, thinking we should be able to easily resolve a situation, but it just isn’t happening, no matter how hard we try; causing us to rage against the situation. This creates huge amounts of stress, which hurts us physically, emotionally and spiritually.

One thing that I would add is that it’s seldom black and white as the prayer seems to suggest. There are some things that we absolutely cannot do anything about, which we just have to accept and be serene as we can about it. However, most things, we can do something about. We may not be able to completely make the problem go away, but we can lessen the problem, find ways to work around the problem, or lessen the effects of the problem. Sometimes we can do something about the problem, but it takes a lot of time and effort. That requires a lot of patience, which really takes us back to the first line of the prayer. We still need serenity to accept things we can’t change 100% RIGHT NOW.

I have great respect for the strength and simplicity of that prayer, but if I were to change it at all, this would be my humble suggestion:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change immediately or completely,
Courage to change the things I can to whatever degree I have the strength and capacity,
And wisdom to know the difference as it stands right now,
As well as patience, determination and tenacity to keep moving forward no matter the odds
.

So don’t stress yourself by raging against what is the current situation. Find peace in doing what you can to improve your situation at this moment and every moment going forward. You cannot coast to your goal, since it usually lies uphill. However, you can feel serenity in taking it one step at a time, whether big or small, depending on your strength and capacity. Still know that there are some circumstances that you may not be able to change. We work with whatever circumstances we find ourselves currently in, whether those circumstances are our own making or have been thrust upon us. We just keep moving forward in faith.

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One Response to “Raging Against What Is”

  1. Ragazza Triste Says:

    I’ll try to keep moving, I will be stronger and I won’t let my fears and doubts to control my life. I have faith.

    Hey, don’t hesitate to visit my blog page, I would love to connect with you. I hope you could also check out my new post, and try to participate. Cheers! 😊

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