Sometimes I write articles just
for myself because I need some convincing reminders of well-known things. This is one of those.
This week my mantra is let it be, and I used to think of this phrase as ‘well, whatever, let it be’ rather than ‘allow it to be’.
There are things we cannot change, it’s a fact. That’s almost all of them. We do not influence or negligently influence the laws of nature, weather, past, circumstances, time, death, perception, mood and nature of others, or, for example, the fact that our baby’s brain develops as long as it needs. From a bird’s-eye perspective, this little unfortunate thing that catches our eye so much at this moment is a funny, insignificant, but, an integral part of the whole. And it’s not worth it, it really isn’t. And these “let it be” and “it’s not worth it” are worthy of being printed in capital letters, tattooed on the forehead, or less radical – being hang somewhere between annoying crumbs in the kitchen, scattered toys in the living room, or in the bathroom’s mirror. The ‘endure’ and ‘tomorrow will be better’ instead are not the best mantras, they accumulate tension, which is why tomorrow never comes, and we continue to boil in the big pit of pitch called today.
In the first half of the XX century, the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr created the world-famous ‘serenity prayer‘, here’s the most famous version of it:
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.
The original prayer was:
Father, give us courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.
What, besides the mantra ‘let it be’ and ‘serenity prayer’, can help to accept what we cannot change? You can write a list of possible explanations for why we are going through this experience.
Another tool is to trick your brain. When the world disappoints us, our brain perceives it as a danger and shoots out cortisol, a stress hormone. Our inner mammal feels good only when he is in complete control of the situation. Usually we create the illusion of our own power, for example, by breaking the rules, judging others and complaining about our destiny, but this only has a temporary effect.
By changing our habitual patterns, we can train our brains to react differently: to feel safe in an environment beyond our control. You have to challenge yourself to do things the other way around, for example, if you are a pedant, scatter things and live in chaos for 45 days.
When we cannot control something, we are children: we want it just like this, otherwise everyone will regret. The difference is that children cannot control themselves whilst we can. This is the only thing we can really control and it is, surprisingly, a fantastic tool in raising a child.
We have complete control over our decisions and actions. And we still have preferences on how we want to feel. What do we need to do to make ourselves feel the way we want? These are the topics for two more lists.
Each of us needs to learn how to accept different things: ourselves, someone else, a situation, past or unpleasant fact, but here is the universal recipe:
▪️allow it to be, you can even take a picture of it and hang it on the walls in frames (add an element of creativity);
▪️ train the brain to not be scared in unmanageable situations;
▪️ write 3 lists:
– all possible versions of why you find it difficult to accept and why this situation may have been given to you;
– describe how you want to feel;
– write how you can achieve the desired state;
▪️ start practicing the last list, as well as meditating and doing sports, though most likely these items are already on the list.