How I Learned To Accept What I Can’t Control

How I Learned To Accept What I Can't Control


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.

I cannot recall when I first learned about the Serenity Prayer, but it has had a powerful impact on my life since that moment. There have been so many circumstances in which I had no control of the outcome and this simple but powerful prayer has enabled me to maintain my sanity during those disparaging times.

I recently had to apply the lessons of this prayer again to a situation at work. We were assigned a new director. In less than two weeks he decided to rearrange everyone’s schedule. Prior to his arrival, managers were off on the on the weekend and most of the staff either worked 8 am to 4 pm or 9 am to 5 pm. With his changes, all managers must work one day on the weekend and the shifts for the staff were changed to 12 pm to 8 pm or 3 pm to 11 pm. We were not allowed to have any input in the modifications and had to be prepared to start the new schedules within two weeks.

I am a manager, so I now work on Saturdays. Prior to this, I was always blessed with positions that did not require me to work on the we
As you might have expected, these changes were not accepted peacefully. Staff contacted the union. They emailed the director’s supervisor. Some didn’t report to work for a few days and even argued with the director. All to no avail.

Accepting these changes was hard for me.  Not only because I didn’t want to give up my weekends, but also because I saw how it affected my co-workers, especially the parents with young children. To be quite honest, I am still struggling with it.  But as I apply the principles of the Serenity Prayer, each day becomes a little more palatable. 

There will always be situations that are beyond our control and usually, we are not pleased with the results. This is where the Serenity Prayer should be applied. Remember, the focal point of the prayer is not just acceptance, but how we accept; peacefully or resentfully.

Why is applying serenity important in these situations? Because the wrong response works against us. It offsets our mental and emotional balance.  It prevents us from thinking clearly. As far as I can tell, the new director sleeps peacefully every night. It is everyone else who comes to work looking ragged due to lack of sleep over these changes.

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Remaining calm and peacefully accepting the things you cannot change makes it easier to focus on changing the things that you can. For example, instead of resisting the changes at work, a wise choice would be to update resumes, practice interviewing, make connections, and look for employment elsewhere.

As we prepare for another new year and we look forward to making life a little bit better, wisdom dictates that there will be events that are beyond our control. Our success in the New Year will greatly depend on our response.

What is your attitude towards situations that are out of your control? Do you use the Serenity Prayer? If not, what do you do to remain calm and respond wisely?

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