My biggest challenge has been to let go and mind my own business. It doesn't come naturally to me.
I am a believer in self improvement and helping others on their journey as well. It took me a very long time to realize that making changes has to come from within each person. None of us can help anyone else change unless they want to make changes. It seems obvious now, but I simply did not accept it for most of my life.
Over time I found out how hard it is to make changes in myself and I appreciated having people to encourage me. I was fortunate that dear friends and family cared enough to give me honest feedback. Sometimes we may not want to hear the advice we get, but truth is a priceless gift.
I have also found over the years that trying to be helpful to someone in dire need of making changes can go two ways. When someone is ready to own their shortcomings and seek a path to improvement, they will benefit from help. A little encouragement can be the catalyst for success. Nothing has given me more pleasure than when I could take part in helping someone change their life.
The other result is quite the opposite. Regardless of how much someone needs to make changes to have a good life, if they are not ready, no amount of good intentions can force a change. Trying to make anyone change anything is futile and can end a relationship. My biggest challenge has been to let go and mind my own business. It doesn't come naturally to me.
It is painful to watch someone in total denial that his or her own actions stand between happiness and misery. It is one thing to see someone in distress through no fault of their own. But it is torture to see someone derail repeatedly from their own attitude or behavior.
If we are here
to learn a particular lesson,
I think mine has centered around this
simple yet profound prayer. "God grant me the
serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage
to change the things I can, and the wisdom
to know the difference."
When we can't help someone, we can't help someone. Period.
Letting go is hard to do, but it is the only thing to do more times than not. It has nothing to do with whether we care about or even love someone. It may be that we need to love them enough to let them go.
Having been imperfect throughout my life, I am aware of how long it can take to recognize the need for long overdo changes, let alone to take the final step and make them. And I am thankful for a deep spiritual belief that gives me comfort - 'Let go and let God.'
The hardest thing for me has been to internalize the Serenity Prayer's counsel to accept the things I cannot change, thereby achieving serenity. For me, it has been far more difficult than finding the courage to change the things I can change. And I am still in pursuit of the wisdom to know one from the other.
I believe I have gained some perspective by studying this prayer throughout my life, after choosing the topic for my senior speech. But, at the optimistic age of 17, I had no clue what it meant. Even now I wonder how much more meaning I might discover.
If we are here to learn a particular lesson, I think mine has centered around this simple yet profound prayer. 'God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.'
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 39 years.
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