“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them — every day begin the task anew.”
Saint Francis de Sales
We are so hard on ourselves. No one can criticize us as much as we do ourselves. No one can cause us to suffer the guilt we put upon ourselves. If we believe that we are what we think and the principals of the law of attraction, we have got to stop beating ourselves up! Stop criticizing our moods, our size, our work, our shape, our laziness, our lack of control, our rage, our tears…. Just Stop! Take a deep breath!
I have spent several years of my life in and out of 12 step programs.No, I have never been addicted to anything, is what I want to say, but if I am being truthful, I was addicted to DRAMA. I needed to rescue, I needed to be in crisis mode… and when my life was no longer in chaos, I think I subconsciously created it, where it wasn’t. Maybe I still do this.. although I guarantee not to the extent I did when I was younger.
True Story, I remember several occasions throughout my past where something blew up, some kind of crisis, something that would have thrown most people on their knees… I remember them vividly, I remember that everyone else was stressed and upset and in crisis mode and me? I was calm. Something inside me was doing a happy dance, but I was calm. I needed to manage a crisis and oh I do it so well! I noticed that when my life is not so chaotic.. I am depressed. I don’t create the chaos so much anymore, but maybe that is why I am depressed more often… and deeper.
Anyway, back to our quote and my 12 step experience (By the way, Al-anon and CODA and ACOA were my programs, in case you wondered.) During those times, I learned the serenity prayer. We all know it, but, do we really think about its meaning? Do you spend time sitting around ruminating over something someone else did or said? Do you have anxiety? Clearly we need a little work on accepting the things we cannot change, or maybe, we still don’t know the difference. So let’s take a quick look, one more time…
God, (you can leave this part out if you need to and still get the same impact, don’t let your religion, agnosticism or atheism get in the way of the mess here!)
God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The Courage to Change the things I Can
The Wisdom to know the difference
So, when we are ruminating over something, it may be good to remind ourselves of the serenity prayer. Break it down:
Really, the end is the beginning…. Can I do anything about this? Try to meditate on it..
If we can do something about it… JUST DO IT!
If we cannot… thinking about it will get us no where! When we learn to accept this, we will find serenity!
Think of it like an election. Before the election, we are worried about who will be elected. It may keep us awake at night, talking about it at work, at the dinner table, it becomes our entire life force at that moment. ( I Know this is an overly simple example, but roll with me here) So, it starts impacting the quality of our life because all we do is think about the pending election. So, we come home, and sit in a nice yoga pose, maybe light a candle and think on it by slowly asking ourselves…
Can I do anything about it? the answer may be.. YES
What Can I do? I can go Vote, Maybe volunteer for the campaign or some activist group
So get off your ass and do it already, all this energy you are spending ruminating over it just isnt good for your or the people around you!
Now the election is over, our candidate lost. We are not happy about it, we are angry about this. We sit our butts down to meditate again and realize, the election is over, there is nothing we can do to change the result. This is the hard part for me. I know when I do not have control over something, but Man, finding peace and serenity in the lack of control is difficult!
I like to think of a a Buddhist philosophy here. It goes something like this: “The root of all human suffering is desire.” I dont know if that is exactly right, but, that is how I tell myself to let it go. I am anxious, agitated, sad, angry, depressed, etc… because I wanted something I didnt get. I desired something, someone, some outcome. When I think of it like this… it makes me feel selfish and therefore more able to get over it.
One last thought… My kids hear me say this slightly under breath, quite a bit recently, three teenage boys will test anyone’s serenity. Anyway, the first time they heard it, they were acting up pretty good and knew I was about to blow a gasket. Instead, I turned my back, took a breath and said the prayer to myself. My eldest son told his brothers that I was chanting, and putting some kind of a spell on them.. Now, everytime they hear me, they say I am chanting again. Ironically, this has become a signal for them that they are getting on my nerves and I am getting ready to blow, so, I guess, while unintended, I got the result I was looking for!
Do you ever use this prayer? Do you use anything else to teach yourself patience and forgiveness for yourself?