“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.”
I believe there isn’t a better way to start this text than with this part of the Serenity Prayer because it explains in a very simple way two concepts that neither the dictionary can easily distinguish: Acceptance and Resignation. At first, these two words may even seem synonymous, but I learned that they have a very different meaning.
Life has taught me that acceptance is related to the past and resignation with the future. Acceptance challenges us to deal with irreversibility . No matter how much we want to go back there is nothing that can be done. In fact , the only choice we have is to change our attitude . This reminds me of a quote from Viktor Frankl that says ” When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves”.
On the other hand, Resignation is making the decision of not trying something different, is denying the possibility of change . We chose not to act even though there is a possiblility to reverse a situation that we do not like. Resignation implies passivity and conformism. It is about adopting the majority way of acting and thinking, instead of fighting for a better future.
Acceptance requires effort to weaken remorse and dissolve any emotional hurts. Undoubtably , it is impossible to confuse it with forgetting, since the things we need to accept are so strong that it is impossible to forget them . Sometimes accepting is a painful process because it requires forgiveness and forgive, especially yourself, can be a challenge.
I believe that death is the hardest thing to accept . When we lose a person you love, we have to deal with absence and regret. At such times, “never again” becomes truth and we must face that memories are the only thing that remains. Another huge challenge, specially for me, is to accept that we can not control the world around us. I often got frustrated until I understood that not everything would go the way I planned. I wasted a lot of energy trying to control the uncontrollable, simply because I could not accept that living involves a very high degree of unpredictability.
Resigning yourself is easier than accepting because we want to believe in the excuses we created to justify not having the life we dream. We tend to support the illusion that we can not do anything to improve. Just think about how many people that are unhappy with their careers use their age as an excuse to not start it again. How many years were wasted on failed relationships only because of the children. Some people dream of living on the beach but live in the city only because “that’s where the jobs are.”
If I were you, I would try to find my own false excuses. To change, you first need to remove the barriers that we create for ourselves. Do not fall into the trap of confusing acceptance with resignation. We waste a lot of time avoiding to accept what we can not change. But we easily give up trying to change what we can.
Think life is like the sea. You must accept that you can not control it; you can not go back and navigate a wave that has passed and that when we lose something the sea takes away forever. But that does not mean you should give up control your boat. We should not live to drift just because we found out that the sea is uncontrollable. Living the drift is to resign yourself; is giving up to find your own ways, chart your own destiny.
Photo credits: https://www.flickr.com/photos/marveiga/