Grant me the courage to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
This prayer saves me over and over. It reminds me of the power of acceptance and the power of choice I always have within any circumstance. Sometimes it does not feel like much choice at all but the most tremendous influence begins in the small dark corners of the mind. Out of those recesses come out to play the best and worst versions of ourselves when faced with limited options. Here I can practice the same positive behavior reinforcement tactics I employ with say, the defiant toddler.
We give room to the whining, we hear out the victim’s case: “It’s not fair!”
No, it’s not.
We give space for anger, for fear, for disappointment. We commiserate with the frustration of coming up against yet another roadblock despite our best efforts.
“It’s too hard!”, we say.
It is hard. And you can do hard things.
In an interview with The Sun in March 2014, the author and amazing human being Barbara Kingsolver recounts this lesson as the most valuable she ever gave her children. To teach them that they can do the hard things. Indeed it is one of the most important ways in which I parent myself. I have leaned on the words of Ms. Kingsolver more times than I can count this year alone.
My son and I, we learn this together side by side. And I am constantly grateful that there are no fewer chances for me to try again than there are for him. The same patience and guidance I extend to my son is what I strive to remember to offer my own thirty-three-year-young tender ego. I don’t always succeed but such is the art of parenting.
Small changes yield big results. The point where to begin may seem insignificant. But no deliberate action is.
What does my heart want?
What does my heart need?
What is the next right action?
Nine times out of ten, the answer is clear. Nine times out of ten the answer is a very, very tiny thing:
Make the phone call you’ve been putting off.
Have a dance party with your kid.
Take 3 deep mindful breaths.
Say “I’m sorry.”
The impact of tiny intentional acts can move mountains. Cosmic shifts start with the most minute particles in the universe. We start by asking the right questions.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Now what?
You can do it.