Finding Serenity in Chaos

I love the serenity prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr. It goes something like this

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.

I often say this prayer to myself after I do a piece of constellation work. When I am in the field in a constellation, I see glimpses of truth, I see the hidden revealed just for the moment, I see family dynamics at play. Dynamics – as they are and not what I would like them to be. I understand that it takes courage to see things as they are, to accept them as they are and to not try and change what I cannot. To not be bigger than anybody so as to try and change things that cannot be changed.

“Acceptance of what is”, is a self-care routine I have started following for myself. When I accept what is, I leave behind the stress of trying to change what is. What I get in return is more space and time. For busy working moms, taking care of the house, children, extended family, colleagues, bosses, and friends – dealing with stress can be overwhelming. In a world of deadlines, self-care somehow gets relegated to the backbench.

What I constantly keep forgetting and relearning is that self-care is most required in moments of complete chaos. It is required so I can ground myself and operate from a space of “I am in charge” instead of a space where “I will control it at whatever expense”. Acceptance does not demand that we resign ourselves to a troubling situation, but it does require a refusal to deny how things actually are. In seeing things as they happen to be, we can allow ourselves to feel compassion towards the other and at the same time, allow the same level of compassion to ourselves as we would accord to others.

It is in the struggle of making things “right” the way we think it to be right, that we create stress within ourselves. I have seen this many times that when the struggle is within me, I am bound to see a reflection of the same outside of me.

In the book “the body says no”, Dr. Gabor Mate mentions that the three factors that lead to stress are uncertainty, lack of information, and loss of control. Many times we are in a state of stress but we are totally unaware of it. Gabor Mate writes that we need emotional competence if we are to protect ourselves from these hidden stresses. As per him, Emotional competence requires:
1. The capacity to feel our emotions so that we are aware that we are experiencing stress.
2. The ability to express our emotions effectively, to assert our needs and to maintain healthy boundaries.
3. The ability to distinguish psychological reactions relevant to the present situation and those that are a residue from the past. In other words, what we want, from others should not be based on unconscious, unsatisfied needs of childhood.
4. Recognizing one own genuine needs rather than repression of these needs to gain acceptance or approval of others.

Being stress-free is a daily effort at self-care. To allow ourselves to be in touch with what we are feeling, by tuning in to our body, we gain the serenity to accept all that lies before us, and, we garner the strength to carry us forward with grace and dignity.

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