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Friday, June 8, 2012

The wisdom to know the difference

I've been living with the serenity prayer a little bit lately.  It's really amazing how every time I think I understand the concept of understanding the difference between the things in my life that I can control vs. those that I can't, life proves me wrong and I suddenly get it on a whole other level.  I've also decided that the Serenity Prayer in and of itself is not enough.  Fine, so you know the difference - now what are you going to do about it?

This might be a little disjointed, I apologize.

I grew up believing that if I was in a critical situation and wasn't losing sleep over it, it meant that I didn't care.  Over the last few years, I've realized that mindset is ridiculous.  If you can change the situation, stop worrying and do something about it.  If you can't do anything...then you can't do anything so why worry?  Do the best you can with what you do have control over, and for the other stuff it's best to make peace with whatever happens.
For a long time I wanted to change who I was.  I've always been shy and introverted, and the heightened empathy that comes with my INFJ personality means that I am sometimes ridiculously sensitive. I take everything on my own shoulders and tend to beat myself up over imperfections.

I wanted to be more outgoing, more of a party person. I wanted to be more extroverted, tougher, more detached.  I thought that if I just pretended I was all of those things, I could become not me anymore, but I usually just ended up sort of lost and confused.

Paradoxically, once I accepted that some things about me were just never going to change, I felt more empowered to become the best version of myself.  I will always be overly sensitive and nostalgic.  I will always be introverted. I will always forget my keys when I run out the door, and I will always, always have stiff hips.

Which brings me back to - so what?  I have the wisdom to realize that I shouldn't beat myself up over a biological tendency that is out of my hands, but it's how I live with that realization that really matters.  Do I sit in class and go "nope, can't do hip openers because my hips suck."  Or do I recognize that my work is deeper and takes longer, be forgiving of myself but keep doing the work anyways.

Our weaknesses are usually just the other side of our strengths.  My empathy and sensitivity is what allows me to develop deep friendships.  It makes me good at what I do because I intuitively get where people are coming from and what they need.  My preference for reading rather than acting, means that when I do have to drive results, I already have a thorough understanding of the situation.  My sense of perfectionism that makes me always question myself, also means that whenever I decide to do something, I go for it 150%.

Sometimes, major decisions that affect our lives are made by someone we've never seen and whose actions we can't control.  All we can do is be here now and commit 100% to the present moment with integrity and strength, while at the same time giving up our expectation for results. 

When people feel out of control in a high-pressure situation, they start doing weird things to try and steer the outcome.  Usually we lash out at each other and start throwing people under the bus.  The desire for teamwork tends to go straight out the window. I've seen this firsthand, it is not awesome.

Realistically, anything can change in our lives at any moment.  Someone I love could be taken from me, I could lose my job, my house, all of my possessions at literally any second.  Practicing detachment is a good exercise.  I don't mean detachment in the sense of not caring - I will always care, it's just part of who I am.  But there is a difference between caring and being attached to results.  Attachment is what usually causes all the arguing and under-the-bus throwing. 

In summary:  Live right now with integrity, don't worry about what happens next because most of the time you have no control over it.  Also, you are who you are, but your weaknesses can also be your strengths.  Don't think you have to be someone else, have more money or more success, in order to love yourself - you can do it right now.


  1. It sounds from this post like you've gained more wisdom than just what you can and can't control... just thinking about it puts you ahead of the game, i think.

    1. Aww thanks lady :) This type of thought/discussion happened so often during college that I didn't realize until I got out into the 'real world' that you're right - not that many people do think about it :/


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