THE WISDOM TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE
The beautiful simplicity of the Serenity Prayer:
"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."
Millions have used this prayer to calm anxiety during difficulties. The prayer also encourages defining the line between personal-control and submission to reality. We improve many aspects of our lives through personal-accountability. Through mindfulness, we discover vast areas previously thought beyond personal control that can be improved.
Instead of quickly labeling something as a given to be endured, we should investigate a little deeper. The causes may not be external. Investigation may lead to productive internal ways to address the discomfort. With expanding wisdom, we often discover that much discomfort is caused by inner-processing and automatic-reactions—not the triggering event. Explore these personal-discoveries instead of quickly passing over them. We feel inclined to bury and deny them because of the discomfort; but not much is accomplished through denial.
Many temporary discomforts experienced are triggered by external circumstances. We can’t be too harsh on ourselves. We respond to undesirable events with discomfort; hurt motivates movement. We remove our hand from the flame because it hurts. A quick shot of pain triggers an automatic flinch to protect sensitive tissue. Emotional pain works the same way. New events that reminds us of past painful events; Emotional stirrings warn of danger. The emotional system carefully scans for threats to avoid unneeded pain. Emotions significantly contribute to learning.
Pain creates an emotional marker that serves as a signal. Pain is not an enemy. We can graciously accept and examine pain for insights. Painful reminders engender greater strength, wisdom and compassion. We can move forward past painful experiences stronger, wiser and kinder. We can consistently blame others for pain but this approach doesn’t utilize the experience for wisdom—to avoid pain in the future. Painful memories prompt angry retribution; but the relief of revenge is fleeting. Unhealed wounds remain while thoughts of retribution keep reopening wounds from the past.
Healing isn’t a product of willpower. Time heals wounds. Forgiveness heals wounds. Experience and understanding heals wounds. Compassionately accepting complexity—not settling for simplified explanations—provides a foundation of healing wisdom. Learn from painful experience, accept support, search for healthy alternatives, and then move towards intentions.
A flourishing life takes constant practice. When in the emotional storm calms, seek wisdom. Ask, “Did my reactions lead to healing or did they create more pain?” Self-exploration teaches wisdom. Future choices become more refined when we purposely investigate pain.
Great books from Amazon to guide you through your emotional healing: