Acceptance: The Serenity Prayer in Action

Submitted by Laurie Veillette, PsyD

Remember the Serenity Prayer?

“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.”

Sometimes when people hear the words ‘accept’ or ‘acceptance,’ they think of inaction or resignation. If accepting was that easy, we wouldn’t be asking God for help in the Serenity Prayer. Accepting can be really hard to do – but it’s essential for any positive change to occur. If we don’t accept the reality of our circumstances, we won’t know when it’s time to take action. Some examples: a) If you don’t accept that smoking is harmful, you probably won’t make the effort to quit b) If you don’t accept that a relationship is unhealthy, you may not choose to leave or ask for change c) If you don’t accept that your mental health is suffering, you probably won’t reach out for help.

It is inevitable that you will encounter challenges in life. By choosing to accept reality as it is, even when it’s uncomfortable, you: honor your innate resilience and ability to overcome difficulty; validate your experience; and empower yourself to respond effectively. Remember that choosing to practice acceptance is not a one-and-done kind of deal – it’s not a switch you flip and forget about. Acceptance requires intention and effort – sometimes daily – sometimes several times a day.

I invite you to consider the following questions:

  1. What kinds of things are hard for you to accept?
  2. What challenges arise when you are not accepting things as they are?
  3. What would change about your life if you practiced acceptance more often?

Check out this Accepting and Letting Go meditation for a guided acceptance practice. For more information about acceptance, visit Dr. Tara Brach’s website which includes additional guided acceptance exercises.

If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out for help. These are two available resources:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Crisis text line:  741741

Laurie Veillette, PsyD
Laurie Veillette, PsyDCCL Board Member
Clinical health psychologist. Specialized training in health psychology and integrated care.

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