Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Wisdom to Know the Difference

I quoted the Serenity Prayer recently. Here it is again.

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.

At our monthly discussion group last night, we used to this prayer as the format for discussing Step 3, giving up the delusion of control. We started with the end of the prayer, trying to discern the difference between what we can change and what we can’t. We made lists of things we can control and things we can’t. Here are some of the things we came up with.

Things we can control – our responses to things, the thermostat, prioritizing our bills, what we wear, the advice we give our children, what we do or think or say.

Things we can’t control – kittens, weather, the choices our children make, the economy, whether we get laid off, what other people do or think or say.

We concluded that generally we can control ourselves, and generally we can’t control everything else.

That seemed like an easy and quick guide to discerning the difference. We felt very wise!


  1. This is great Galen. It feels so good to let go of the things we try to control. Trying to control things is vanity. We must put our energy into ourselves! Thanks Galen!

  2. So many people mistake control for leadership. If we strengthen ourselves, we can lead proudly. If we attempt to control, we don't lead at all.

  3. I needed to hear this today, as I needed the reminder that there are some things I can't control no matter how hard I try.

  4. Good post.
    I’ve been following and enjoying your blog for a while now and would like to invite you to visit and perhaps follow me back. Sorry I took so long for the invitation.

  5. Yes, I'm sneaking this into the sports section...not sure how I can meld it into the on line articles he reads!

    When something is out of your control, it can be like watching a train wreck. I think that's the issue my husband is having. Watching a train wreck isn't fun, so if you can have some sort of grasp on it, you always feel you can help keep it from happening or lessen the blow. When you know you can't, you always get the helpless feeling.

  6. Dandy--So funny that we crossed in cyberspace yesterday. Thanks for your comment.

    JJ--Your comment reminded me of many passages in the Tao Te Ching about leadership. It's definitely not about control.

    Jewel--I need to hear this every day, I think! Glad you stopped by.

    covnitkepr1--I have visited your blog and like it very much. Would be glad to follow.

    ryoko--I'm familiar with that helpless feeling. Most recently I've experienced it with my kids. I'm reminding myself that they have their own paths in this life and I can't control the choices they make. Still....

  7. Man proposes but God disposes. I can still hear my Mother [and Grandmother] saying this. It was usually in response to some tragedy that affected them dreadfully. But in those words was resolution [and peace]. And an understanding that "some things" are out of our hands. Much as we might not want them to be.

  8. Jean--Great quote from your mom and grandmother! Thanks.

  9. These are some of my most favorite words to hear! Blessings, and Peace always!

  10. I can relate to this post, I had to discern the difference as well a while back and it is interesting. I love what JJ made a comment on about control... well said JJ!

  11. Karen--Thank you and blessings to you, too!

    darlin--I agree...well said JJ!

  12. Galen,

    It's amazing your group came up with such a simple guideline! The inability to let go is at the heart of so much of our suffering. I'm so glad you are addressing this.

  13. Such wise words. You always make me think, and you always lift my mood. Thanks, Galen.

    Another wise friend said to me this morning, "You can do anything, but you can't do everything."
    So true! I've been trying to do everything. Serenity on order ;)

  14. alwayswellwithin--It is a simple guideline, isn't it?! Thank you for the encouragement.

    Alexia--I'm so pleased if my words find a place in your spirit. I like your friend's quote. Very timely for me since I have realized the truth of it just recently. I will remember that one for sure!

  15. Good words here. I would like to recommend the book by the same title as your post - based on the serenity prayer - author Eileen Flanagan - I reviewed it on my blog. I think it should be a best seller - amazingly good book

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom here

  16. Patricai--Thanks for the tip. I will definitely check it out.


Your comment is valuable and valued. Comment moderation is enabled to block spam, so please excuse the brief delay until your comment appears on the blog.