“Things I Cannot Change”


An oft quoted meditation, often attributed to the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, asks for the “serenity to accept the things I cannot change.” His actual prayer differed in a significant way by stating “serenity to accept the things that cannot be helped.” Today and for the next two days I will quote various parts of that text in relation to the present time.

If I wanted to I could watch the news 24/7. I could also be completely insane! In order to maintain a healthy blood pressure, sleep well at night, and get along with my husband, I limit myself to the daily press conferences of my state governor. I also read the emails from my U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative and local state legislators. In each of these communications I learn of the toll of the virus and what is being done at the local level to deal with it. None of these bring partisan politics, blame or accusations to me. Occasionally I will learn of a difficult struggle between our governor and the President of the United States to acquire life saving equipment for our state in the middle of a severe outbreak of illness. That is more than enough exposure for me.

Why when I have generally followed the news pretty regularly? Because when I am exposed to national news, particularly from the White House, I react with a strong urge to DO SOMETHING TO CHANGE OUR LEADERS. But I can’t. They are, to use some of the available synonyms above, “unvarying and inflexible.” And living in the space with the need to do something without the power to do it is traumatic. And I don’t need any more trauma.

So in relation to the national handling of our disease I am no longer embroiled. I really can’t change any of it. And believing that I can just damages my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health.

Tomorrow I’ll look at the things I can change.

26 thoughts on ““Things I Cannot Change”

  1. I spent almost 25 years of my life consumed with radical politics, and a burning desire to change the unfair society in Britain. Nothing happened. In fact, it got worse. Much worse.
    I still get rather annoyed about it, but I am no longer ‘consumed’ or ‘burning’.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thank you for sharing your level-headed approach to acquiring the information you need in these times. Things are very strange and even when you don’t feel “stressed,” there is stress built-in with the uncertainties, the concern for others as well as ourselves, and adopting new ways of living each day. “Partisan politics, blame and accusations” are harder to process/digest on top of it all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes there is an ongoing low level anxiety that affects us all. For me I find a decreased ability to concentrate which alerts me to the stress I am experiencing without realizing it consciously.


  3. I wish I could watch the news without having increased anxiety so I don’t watch it at all. It’s the only way I can stay sane when the world is “normal” let alone all that is going on now. Hope your day is treating you well.


  4. I have to say that this pandemic has united many parts of our country. The premier of our province and our prime minster have both been excellent throughout. Still, the first few days I had the news on all the time and it got to me. Now I watch each of their press conferences and that’s enough.


  5. Reflects my thoughts exactly – and also on a ‘zoom’ conversation with friends last night one said exactly the same thing about accepting what you cannot change.


  6. We are all in the same boat, Elizabeth. It is not bad here yet, but we are on our way and it will get there. Six weeks ago it wasn’t bad in the US. Your attitude is the best one and I am doing the same.


  7. That’s wise Elizabeth! I only listen to the news once a day too, otherwise it becomes overwhelming. We now have CoV19 in our little seaside village…
    Blessings to you & your husband this Easter,


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