Recognizing “what is”

Recently I began to realize that certain long-standing life-choices I had made were not healthy, and were not serving me well any more. In an effort to dull the sharp edges of my emotions, I had become accustomed to either lock those emotions away so I would not feel the pain, or self-medicate with alcohol. Something had to change. I found an online self-help sobriety community, and started the journey towards recovery (

As I dig deeper into these emotions, peeling away and examining each layer, I am uncovering the deeply held beliefs and values that represent who I am. I started noticing the things that upset me (hot buttons). But this information did not answer the central question: ‘what is important to me’. So I looked in the opposite direction, and there it was: honour. Perhaps old-fashioned nowadays. But, nevertheless, this one value conveys other perennial favorites like honesty, integrity, equity and fidelity. All qualities that seem in short supply these days. A reality check was needed.

“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. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) – known as The Serenity Prayer

The Serenity Prayer is a simple 3-step maxim. Have you ever thought: Why am I facing the same situation over and over? This self-examination led me to see clearly that in each difficult situation I had been trying to persuade others to change their view and hence their behavior. This is where Step 1 comes in; the opinions and behavior of other people is outside of our control. All the attention and effort invested in this effort can now be redirected towards the evaluation of our own behaviors and other things within our control to change. In my case it was a question of setting and communicating a boundary, so a long-standing source of emotional pain might be resolved. Step 2 is difficult and this is where courage comes in first, to recognize one’s own flaws and then summon the commitment to change those behaviors for the better. There are risks associated with this step, and that is where Step 3 comes in. Take some time for reflection, and then sit with your conclusion for a while, until you are really comfortable with the decision and a sound plan of action emerges.