Accepting What Can’t Be Changed & Changing What Can

Energy is a finite source. When our minds get stuck dumping our precious reserves into the things we cannot control, it can be scary and exhausting. But there is a powerful antidote to anxiety: acceptance. We can’t change this pandemic, but we can accept the roles we can take on to reduce its severity. We can’t change what we’ve been through when we are in recovery from an addiction. Still, we can accept the situations we face and use that acceptance to power our coping mechanisms. While it isn’t always easy to deal with a circumstance that we cannot change, it is a powerful concept worth spending energy on. 

As we cope with the stress of the state of the world, burnout can feel imminent, and our dangerous coping mechanisms may linger more persistently at the edges of our awareness. We may feel exhausted from trying to find the energy to move boulder-sized struggles in our world.  

Switch boulders for stones

Feeling stuck and frustrated while you make no progress feels like a sign that we aren’t trying hard enough. In truth, it likely just means you’re trying too hard to conquer immovable obstacles. It does not mean you can’t make progress, but that you may need to recalibrate the areas of life in which you’re pouring your energy. Instead of boulder struggles, maybe it’s time to take a look around for some pebbles to get those little wins.


Seeking to put our effort and time into the things that we can fix or improve is not a new concept, but it can be life-altering. The Serenity Prayer has been lauded as a creative and theological tool across a myriad of circumstances. It communicates this exact principle in its brief stanzas: put your energy into the efforts that you can make progress on. 

Sparks of serenity

Since it was penned in the early 1940s amid the second World War, the prayer has come to embody hope of a better future to many people. Groups and individuals alike seek out the comfort of the concept that if they seek patience and clarity, they can see the difference between the challenges they can control and the challenges they need to make peace with. 

Power in brevity

The renowned poem’s author, Reinhold Niebuhr, saw it through several iterations, but the basis of it is often summed up in the three lines most often re-printed or purposed into recovery group missions: 

“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.”

These lines emblazon medallions, t-shirts, and merchandise across all kinds of brands and organizations, and with good reason. They are empowering, and the message they carry is applicable across so much of our lives. The simple clarity of the reminder that we should seek acceptance and change in all things we face is what makes it powerful.

Accept or change? 

We can’t change the existence of a pandemic, and we never could have planned for it. But we can change the way we think about its fallout in our day-to-day life. Choosing to accept both the implication and the complicated emotions of a Covid-19 world can free up our emotional energy to, perhaps, create new ways of caring for ourselves amid unchangeable uncertainty. 

Much of life happens to us, or for us, and try as we might, it can feel like an impossibility to change the way that plays out. Even when we confront immovable obstacles, though, we are not powerless in the path of our lives. Be it the pandemic, recovery, or the like, you are not powerless even in the things you cannot change. 

Take your power back 

Acceptance is a powerful tool. It does not imply passive peace of letting the world happen around us without any say. Acceptance tells the world we see the pieces we hold, and we choose to seek peace regardless. When you accept the things you cannot change, you endure them for right now. Now is temporary, as are the circumstances in which we find ourselves. We are not. We are continually growing, constantly changing. Whether it’s restructuring your schedule, your boundaries, or your thoughts, you have a say in where you direct your power. Our evolution is infinite once we accept the spaces in which our energy will go to waste and choose to invest it into the things that will flourish with it.

The gift of acceptance


From any stone or background, the heart of the Serenity Prayer rings true as it echoes through every corner of our lives. Choosing to say no to the things that drain us and give nothing back is an impactful change we can make in instances where we may have the ability to change little else. So put down the boulder, pick up a pebble, and keep moving forward with acceptance for the changes you can make. 

The Haven at Pismo provides someone struggling with addiction an ideal environment to make the needed changes in their life. Call today to learn more: 805.202.3440.

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