Tips for Self- Empowerment and Change


Change the things that you can!! Most are familiar with the "Serenity Prayer" that many say was originally authored by Reinhold Niebuhr, which states, "God, grant me the serenity, to accept the things that I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." Many times this prayer is associated with Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Nevertheless, if truth were told, this prayer is applicable to any and every life situation. How would life be if we spent more time changing the things that we can change rather than trying to change, to figure out or to understand the things that we cannot change? How would life be if we began to accept the things we cannot change? Now, I did not say we had to AGREE with the things that we cannot change, I said accept. I also did not say that we have to LIKE the things that we cannot change. I said accept. Accept, meaning recognizing that a situation did occur (whether pleasant or unpleasant), that situation is a reality, and although I might not like that the situation occurred, although the situation might have been painful, and although the situation might have been uncomfortable, I cannot change it. The situation cannot be undone. 

Case and point, if I get stuck on the highway on the way to work due to a car accident, I cannot change the fact that I will be late to work. What can I change? Well... I am glad that you asked! I have the opportunity to change my perspective. Rather than focusing on being late, what my boss might say, the fact that I am using up all of my gas sitting in traffic, etc... , which could get my blood pressure up, cause my palms to sweat, and possibly lead to road rage; my thought process can shift to the fact that I was not in a car accident; I have my life; I have a car to go to work; I have a job to go to, I have gas in my car; the gas prices have gone down; and on, and on, and on... you get my point. I could turn the music up, sing along, and go with the flow (or lack thereof). I cannot change the traffic, but I can change my viewpoint. 

 There may be some situations you face that seem as if implementation of this process is impossible, but I challenge you to try it. If you start this in the small areas and issues in life (such as the traffic issue mentioned above), I believe practice of focusing on what you can change will begin to filter into the larger areas and experiences. If this technique is a struggle for you, I do encourage you to talk with a professional, because I do recognize that there are some major life circumstances that require help with this challenging process. This process is one that is easier said than done. By no means are trials, traumas, and travesties being minimized! But just think about it; let's try to place more energy and emphasis on changing the things that we can because that is within our power. When we focus the majority of our time, energy, and attention on things that we cannot change, we are left with feelings of defeat, despair, and discouragement. Conversely, if we begin to focus on changing the things that we can, we begin to feel empowered, encouraged, energized, and enlightened. One other nugget and hint that I would like to leave you with to start this process is that we cannot change other people, places, or things. We can only change our own actions, attitudes, perspectives, and reactions. So, let's get this process of changing what we can started! 

 By Quinnise Pettway, LPC

Quinnise Pettway