There are many things that can feel outside our control in life. With recent events, this notion has been further strengthened for each of us. Both on a world wide scale and perhaps on an individual scale, many are facing fears related to the things not within their power. Each of us face unique situations in regards to these fears and the way life events impact us. None of us have had the exact same experience, but I would imagine we can each relate to these fears.
The Serenity Prayer states “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”. This prayer really resonates with me, as there are many things in life that fall into the category of things I cannot change. For that reason, I have spent some time studying serenity.
In my studies, I have learned serenity is having a feeling of peace and calm even when life’s circumstances are not ideal. It brings to my mind a picture of a boat in stormy waters that is able to ride each wave and not capsize. The sailor of the boat is unable to change the waves, and no matter how hard he tries to fight it the waves will come. Can you imagine how miserable he would be if he spent his whole time on the ship trying to change the fact that waves come or complaining about his predicament?
I have felt like that sailor many times in my life; when a wave comes that I don’t want to face or deal with. One of the waves we are all currently facing is the COVID-19 virus. This wave impacts people differently. For some, it meant attending school and/or work online, spending more time than usual with those you were in lock down with, or maybe fears about yourself or a loved one getting sick. It could have also brought changes to work protocols or financial hardships. Maybe you have gotten the virus or seen a loved one face it. These are just some of many ways the virus has impacted us. Perhaps, there were already waves you were trying to get past when this new one came. Whatever your situation, I hope this analogy of the sailor in a ship helps you.
When the waves come, the sailor does their best to control the things they can control; the angle of the ship, how much power they use and where their boat hits the waves. Instead of focusing on the things they don’t have command of, they do their best to control the aspects in their power. Simple things help the sailor prepare for and survive the waves with a sense of serenity.
Perhaps there is wisdom for each of us in this analogy. When the waves of uncontrollable life events come, we can choose to worry about the waves and allow them to leave us feeling powerless, or we can choose to focus on the areas we can control. Some examples of simple things to focus on could include: sleep schedule, reaching out to gain support from others, offering kindness to others, and being compassionate to yourself.
Recognizing the choices we have brings a sense of order and empowerment to life again. If you, like me, struggle to have serenity in the face of the things we cannot control I encourage you to take some time and write down the areas you can control and ways to use that control to help you meet the waves of life.
Know that you are never alone and help is always available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to get connected with a local crisis center.