The Serenity Prayer is a wise one. It begins, “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.”
What is the most basic thing that you cannot change? It is the fact that you are living in a human body and creating a human story. What is the most basic thing you rage against? It’s the fact that you are living in a human body and creating a human story.
At some point in your life, usually your early years, someone or something convinced you that you were “supposed to be” more than human. And you believed it. Yet the fact is your being human won’t change as long as you have breath. Yet so much of your upbringing and your society seem to tell you differently. It says all you need to do is to make a new plan and stick to it. Tells you to work against your own physiology and wage war against your own past. As if this will solve something. I am here to tell you that it won’t. It only adds new complications to the old.
How do you make necessary changes then? You can begin by accepting that you are human. Let yourself know this is not a bad thing. It’s a good thing actually. It is as it’s supposed to be. Start by listening to what’s behind the things you don’t like about yourself. You will find that it’s always a cry for love and understanding.
Hold those parts of yourself that are crippled, wounded from the fight. Then begin to let them know that a loving, understanding Mama/Papa Bear has arrived. Life is difficult and nobody escapes the fire of it untouched.
Be there for your faults. Don’t deny them. Don’t minimize them. Just be there with them. When you do this, something amazing happens. You can’t do it in order to change anything. And yet as you allow it to happen, a sweet forgiveness begins moving within you.
There is a wise saying that “what you resist, persists.” And there is a physiological reason for this. When you resist something, you expend a great deal of energy on it. You create actual neural pathways for it in your brain. It helps to think of these pathways as grooves in your brain. Imagine a dirt track rutted down by years of runners. It makes sense then, doesn’t it? When you put so much attention and energy into something, it should flourish!
And flourish it does. It keeps building and building until finally you are so tired of resisting it that you wonder if you can go on. It is at this point that you have an opportunity to give up your search for perfection. To say to the thing that you see as your imperfection, “I’m not going to fight you anymore. I’m going to give you some respect. I’m going to accept that you have reasons for still being in my life.”
Human beings generally don’t do this. Not until they are so weary of the battle that surrender can’t be any worse than the fight. Yet it is at this point that real change can happen. As you give up the fight, there follows a deep sigh of relief throughout your entire being and the whole system starts to calm down. For the first time in a long time, the part of you that you’ve been fighting begins to rest.
Most of the things you’ve been fighting actually don’t need changing. Most of them are just human things that don’t matter one way or another. This is true especially if you no longer are living in the mirror of other people’s opinions.
Some things do matter, though, and really do need changing. There’s no denying this. Yet even with these things, love, patience and wisdom are primary. One hint: A lot resolves itself as you learn the art of becoming your own best friend.
Look for the grace in everything then, accept the grace and give it back. Don’t make grand self-improvement plans. Make little self-loving adjustments instead. The truth is that you can become comfortable in your human body and your human story. Even when it looks different from that of your family or your friends. After all, it’s just a body and just a story. Why does it have to be so perfect? Your family members aren’t perfect and your friends aren’t perfect. Welcome to the club!
This acceptance of yourself, as you actually are, usually begins in small ways. That’s okay, because it will grow. It feels good to stop fighting the way your body is and the way your story is. And when things feel good, your physiology wants more of it. Human beings are made to gravitate toward good things. Acceptance is a good thing.
I’m not talking about denial here. I’m talking about looking something “straight in the eye” and accepting it as it is. There’s a great relief in doing so. And this makes you want to do more of it, which feels even better and so you do more. Then one day, you realize acceptance has become a whole new way of living for you. That’s how lasting change happens. You change from the inside out and as you do, you begin to see things with different eyes.
This is an excerpt from Laurie’s latest book, Operating Instructions for Human Beings: 10 Things Nobody Ever Told You. It was released on November 1. What are the 10 Things? Click here to find out, and read Chapter Three: What Is Your Subconscious Mind?