Life On Purpose: Tools to Live Life Intentionally
“God, grant me the serenity to accept
the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Dr. Rheinhold Niebuhr
In my last post I shared with you the key principle that true change cannot happen unless you are motivated, and in order to be motivated you have to be inspired.
But what if there are things in your life that cannot be changed?
I’m well aware of this dilemma. I have a child with behavior issues, a child with medical issues, extended family with addictions. I have relationships with friends who have issues. My husband has to work long hours to support us, and we still have a less-than-average income and financial challenges.
All of these things are out of my control right now.
But there is something I can change: ME.
I can change the way I think and I can accept things the way they are. What does that mean?
Acceptance means acknowledging the truth.
When we first received the medical diagnosis for my child, I put the envelope in a drawer and didn’t look at it or think about it for months.
It’s not a life-threatening issue and the delay didn’t make a difference medically, but it probably makes me a bad parent — so go ahead and judge me.
Finally reality hit me in the face enough times that I decided to acknowledge the FACT that my child has a problem and we have to deal with it. Denying the truth only brings more pain and suffering.
Acceptance means acknowledging the whole truth.
Accepting the fact that my child has problems doesn’t mean that I like it, that I’m okay with it or that everything is fine. It means that I realize there are issues we have to deal with and I’m willing to address them head-on instead of pretending they are not there.
Acceptance means that I acknowledge my grief over the situation and I allow myself to be angry, sad and upset about my child’s condition. I don’t have to pretend like everything is okay.
Acceptance means I can deal with the problem.
Until I acknowledge that there’s a problem, I can do nothing to improve it. Accepting my child’s condition as a fact enables me to make changes in our lifestyle so that my child can adapt better and our family can function well.
There are several benefits from accepting the situations I cannot change:
Acceptance frees me to live.
Once I accept the realities of my situation, I am free to live in the present rather than waiting on something to change. When I don’t accept things the way they are, I put my life on hold.
Acceptance allows me to find the positive.
Once I accept the ugly realities of a situation, I can focus on more positive aspects. While there are many negatives about the medical condition and our financial situation, there are also many positives in our life.
When I focus on what is going well and what is good, I have a larger capacity to manage the negative aspects.
Acceptance brings change.
Accepting my circumstances changes me, which can (and usually does) bring change to my situation. As I have accepted my child’s condition and made adjustments in my life, I have become a stronger person and hopefully a better mother.
My acceptance of the situation has helped my child to cope with the issue in a more positive way as well.
While choosing to accept the realities of life is key to living life intentionally, it doesn’t happen overnight. Don’t be discouraged at the process of dealing with difficult and strong emotions. Life may seem a little worse when you crash through denial, but everything will get better if you stick with it.
Acceptance is not an easy road to travel, but it is a good one.
Next Post in this Series: Where Are You Going?
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Photo credit: Stefan Gustafsson Photography