Often, in my work with clients, I ask them if they know the Serenity Prayer, and if they don't, I recite it for them. I do this when they are stuck in control issues. Most of us get stuck in control issues fairly often, and I find that the Serenity Prayer is a really great way to let go of trying to control things that we can't control.
This is the first part of the prayer, which is the part I recite:
God, grant me the serenity to accept
the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
I find this to be an incredibly powerful prayer in helping me remember to let go of trying to control people and events - over which I have no control - and to control what I can, which is my own intention, thoughts and responses.
In my work with individuals and couples, I find over and over that one of the main causes of individual and relationship misery is trying to control when control is not possible. Trying to control how others feel and behave will generally lead to frustration. And the very act of trying to control is guaranteed to make us feel badly. This is because it is very unloving to try to control others, and all unloving behavior toward ourselves and others makes us feel badly. Our feelings of anger, frustration, irritation, anxiety or depression are our inner Guidance letting us know that we are off track in our thinking and behavior.
Take a moment to really ponder this prayer. There are very powerful words, starting with "God." It starts with God because we cannot achieve any of this by ourselves, without the help of our Higher Power.
"Serenity" is a powerful word, as we all want "serenity", and this prayer tells us exactly how to have it - by letting go of trying to control things over which we have no control.
Another powerful word is "accept." It is by accepting what we cannot change and changing the things we can that we achieve serenity.
A fourth very powerful word is "courage." It takes courage to change what we can, which is primarily ourselves - our false beliefs, unloving thought and behavior. It takes courage to shift our intent from protecting/controlling to learning/loving.
For me, the final very powerful word is "wisdom." It is the wisdom that comes through us from our Higher Power that allows us to discern the difference between what we can change and what we can't.
I encourage you to memorize this prayer and say it often to yourself. Imagine how your life would be if you truly stopped trying to control others and events, and instead focused all the energy that goes into trying to control what you can't control, and direct it toward controlling what you can. Have you ever put as much energy into making your intent conscious as you have put into trying to control others?
Think about all the time you've spent being angry, frustrated, annoyed, irritated, withdrawn, resistant, compliant, parental or defensive. What if you spent a fraction of that time focusing instead on what is loving to yourself and others? Why continue to spend any time and energy with these controlling behaviors that only end up making you feel badly?
Take a moment right now to say The Serenity Prayer to yourself. Notice how good it feels inside. Notice how sincerely saying this prayer brings a sense of serenity. It works for me!