You Have the Power!

“Don’t get upset with people and situations because both are powerless without your reaction.”

I came across this quote this week. There was a picture of Buddha with it, but I have no idea if it is a Buddhist quote. If I don’t react to things around me, then I don’t give them my power. It goes along with acceptance. It about how I invest my emotions in the things that around me. When I accept something, I am saying that it is. Nothing more. I am not saying that I like it. I am not saying that it needs to be changed. I am outside of that judgment. It simply is.

My emotional involvement in people or situations will not change anything. Getting angry with another driver for cutting me off will not change anything.  The other guy might not have realized that he did what he did.  He may wonder why some freak in the car behind him is blowing his horn and blinking his lights. He probably can’t hear your shouting and can’t count how many fingers you have pointed into the air. If I accept that the guy cut me off then I am not giving him power, nor am I giving my power to what he did. If I learn to remain calm, and accept, I keep my power and I keep my serenity.

Acceptance does not equal approval.

Acceptance is separate from judgement. I don’t have to like what is happening when I accept it. I am simply acknowledging that it is. I don’t like it when people treat me with disrespect. I don’t like it when I’m cut off in traffic. It bothers me when my efforts go unnoticed or unappreciated. I can still accept that it happened and then make a decision about what to do or not do about it. I don’t have to give away my peace of mind, my serenity when it happens. I have the ability to choose where and how I express my emotions. Another person cannot piss me off unless I let him.

I can’t control people, places or things.

My circle of control extends to about as wide as I can stretch my arms and sometimes it contracts about as far as the tip of my nose. If I am angry or upset or frustrated about something, it is because I have allowed that to happen. You didn’t do it to me, the event didn’t do it to me. I did it to me. That’s a hard pill to swallow at first. My immediate reaction is to lash out. But like everything else, it is a process. First I see that I lashed out when something happened. With some more practice I then recognize it when I am in the midst of it and finally I stop myself before I lash out at someone because I do not want to give my power to them. It’s not a straight line process either; sometimes I am in acceptance and sometimes I jump right to anger.

“…Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly…” Working on our reactions and turning them into responses that are thought out takes time. Trust the process. Trust your ability to make a change. Nothing is impossible.



Through Prayer and Meditation

For many of us, prayer was something we turned to when all else was failing, nothing was going right and the world was crashing in around us: ‘fox-hole’ prayers. Soldiers under fire, huddled in their dug out trenches asking to get out alive. ‘God, get me out of this and I’ll never drink again,’ or ‘I’ll go to church every Sunday,’ or some bargaining chip that is supposed to entice God to help me in this situation.  As if God can be bought off. Once out of the mess, we rationalize that it would have turned out this way regardless of the prayer bargains and continue on our merry way in life as though nothing happened.

A mentor of mine talks about being jobless, penniless and living in the spare room of a friends apartment for over a year. Over a thousand resumes with custom cover letters had been mailed out and not a single interview.  He was depressed, feeling failure and abandoned. He relates, “I remember that one night when I prayed I said, ‘God, give me something useful to do.’ I didn’t put conditions on it, no time limits, nothing. Within two weeks I had three job offers and I ended up accepting two of them in fields that I never knew I even wanted to work in and which turned out to be very rewarding.”

Some will rationalize that it would have turned out this way  regardless of his prayer. It’s a matter of perspective. What it says to me and the way he interprets this is that he was in complete acceptance and open to whatever his Higher Power would send his way: no conditions, no bargains, no pleas; no restrictions on the outcome. It was a simple prayer, “Give me something useful to do.”

In the eleventh step it is suggested that we pray for two things: “…knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out.” It’s pretty simple, but it takes a long time to really ‘get’ it. I don’t have to pray to my higher power for world peace, or to save that baby or to find a job. I pray to know what the next right step is for me and for the strength to take that step. I’m learning to pray without conditions, without terms. I don’t need grandiose terminology or holy words. I need openness and humility. I need willingness to face whatever is before me. I need to show up.

In the Old Testament, I think it’s one of the psalms, the writer says, “Here I am oh Lord. I come to do your will.” Its a simple prayer and pretty close to the one my friend Bob stumbled onto. “Give me something useful to do.” It follows the eleventh step of seeking and carrying out our Higher Power’s will for us. Showing up really is half the battle.  It’s letting go of preconceived results and trying to control the people, places and things around me. It’s being open to whatever happens. It’s allowing the current of the river to take me.

For me, it’s a whole lot easier way to pray and to live. It really is turning my will and my life over to the care of my Higher Power, knowing in my essence that this Power has always been there for me in the past, is there now and so, I know that it will always be there for me. Am I there yet? Hell no, but I am on my raft on the river, doing my best to enjoy the ride. And that, I believe, is the whole point of this life.

Thank-you Bob.



Life on Life’s Terms

I like to read recovery stories and go to speaker meetings where I can hear the tales of fellow addicts and their journey to and in recovery.  One of my favourite stories, and I know I’m not alone, is the story “Acceptance is the Answer” found in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. It tells the tale of a doctor who drinks and prescribes himself drugs and almost destroys himself. He talks about the importance of acceptance of himself, his situation and his addiction as the answer to his problems. I’ve added a link below if you would like to read this story.

One of the things I’ve come to realize in the last week or so is that ‘acceptance’ is 100% or it is nothing. Let me explain. If I accept something, I am in total agreement with it. That doesn’t mean I have to like or love it; I may not. I may not like it, but I accept it. This for me is living life on life’s terms: accepting what is in my life. It’s not arguing with my Higher Power my partner or myself that things should be this way or that way. It is simply saying yes, that is the way it is.

Take this for an example. My car has a flat tire. My refusal to accept this would mean I keep driving and ruin the tire, probably the rim and who knows what else on the car. I have to accept the flat tire and do something about it before I can move on. I get out the jack and spare tire, or I call the auto association, because I know that I need to repair the tire before I can move on. This is acceptance. I take whatever situation I am in, I learn to deal with it and then I can move on.

The other thing that I came realized this past week is that if I have anything less than 100% acceptance, I am in resistance and fighting against what is. If I don’t completely accept the situation as it is, I am resisting it and as I’ve learned resistance is futile.  What I resist will persist. With the tire example, I can choose not to accept it, but the tire won’t change itself. I can blame the car, or the road, the last person who drove it. I can lament that I didn’t put the jack in the car or call all of my friends and complain about my flat tire…and I still have a flat tire. Even if I drive slowly, I will damage the tire. I am resisting and not accepting the situation as it is.

Once I accept and change the tire, the problem goes away, it no longer persists. It’s being an active participant in my life and not passively letting things happen to me. Living life on life’s terms doesn’t mean sitting back and lamenting. It is action. It is accepting what is and working towards a resolution.


This is a link to reading this classic story Acceptance is the Answer. Click on the link and a PDF file will open. Scroll down the “Personal Stories Part II ‘They Stopped in Time’. The story “Acceptance is the Answer” is on page 407.