There’s a prayer I love called the “Serenity Prayer”, which goes like:
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.
The reason I love it so much is because it involves a concept that fascinates me: that in life we’ll encounter things we won’t be able to change but we can still be happy about them by just accepting them.
The interesting part is: How can we tell the difference between what we should or shouldn’t accept?
Let’s focus on ourselves. For me, it all starts by understanding what acceptance truly means. Acceptance is the act of recognizing in yourself the intrinsic value you have, just because YOU ARE. It’s about loving yourself no matter what, because you understand that you are a vulnerable and flawed human being doing the best you can. It’s also about understanding that you are product of many memories, programming, beliefs, DNA history and a whole bunch of experiences that you didn’t choose but still have.
Let’s say you are a tall, big boned woman who comes from a family of tall, big boned people. No matter how hard you try to be skinny and petite like today’s supermodels, your bone structure will always be that of a tall, big boned woman. Accepting yourself means coming to terms with the fact that you were born this way but also recognizing that you are unique and beautiful in your own special way. It means being comfortable in your skin and feeling fabulous by being yourself.
However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t eat healthy and watch your weight because you want to feel good but also be comfortable with your looks. Acceptance is about knowing deep in your core that you are valid just the way you are but also worthy of pursuing a better version of yourself. Worthy of changing.
Accepting something is the best way to change it, for we’ll be embracing the transformation with the certainty that, whether we accomplish the expected change or not, we will still be worthy. Also, when we accept things as they are, we encounter less resistance when trying to change them. If, for example, you want to cut the sugars because it will make you feel better, it will be easier if you start by accepting that you’ll experience cravings -and maybe even give yourself permission to be a little cranky the first days- rather than fighting the impulse to eat a cake PLUS fighting yourself for having the impulse.
If you focus on changing the things you don’t like, but do it from a place of acceptance and love, you’ll get rid of all the unnecessary judgement and actually enjoy every action you take towards making you and your life better.