To Accept the Things I Cannot Change

I was reflecting on the recovery prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” It occurred to me that it would be valuable to more deeply explore each section of this invocation—acceptance, courage, and discernment—and help others gain deeper insight into these core elements of graceful living. This article is the first in this series.

By George A. Boyd © 2021

Q: What does acceptance mean? How do I know whether I can change something or not?

A: Acceptance has a number of facets. Some of the expressions of acceptance are:

  • Surrendering to the Divine Will and asking the Divine to guide you
  • Letting go of continuing to struggle and just being
  • Ceasing to fight for something and let others have their way; become detached as to the outcome
  • Stop playing the game and enacting the old weary dramas over and over; being willing to allow a new pattern to emerge in your life that is authentic and actualizing
  • Abandoning worry and over-thinking and just allow yourself to be present and serene
  • Acknowledging and feeling gratitude for the good that is now in your life
  • Step out of the perspective where you feel targeted and experience stress; take in the larger picture and recognize the other possibilities that are available to you

When you stop struggling, resisting, fighting, and worrying, you can step into the peace of acceptance. In acceptance, you acknowledge what is—not what you want the world and other people to be, but what is happening now and who people actually are.

We have explored what and how you can change in one of our articles, “Acceptance and Change Revisited.” We reproduce it here:

Acceptance and Change Revisited

Excepted from “When You’re Crazy and Stoned” © 1998 by George A. Boyd

Acceptance means you allow things to remains they are without attempting to change them. You remain in a state of being, of witnessing, of non-action. This passive state promotes self-understanding.

Change means you apply your will in specific ways to alter the circumstances and patterns of your life. You adopt the role of creator and transformer by using your will.

There are several ways you can change:

  1. Change of perception – this means changing what you look at: instead of only seeing the bad, you also look at the good; you are willing to hear something else and to feel something else
  2. Change of action – you change what you do in a particular situation
  3. Change of attitude – you change what something means to you, so you react to it in a different way
  4. Change of thinking – you analyze how you defend and distort certain areas of your life and be willing to consider an alternate approach
  1. Change of context – using your imagination, you become willing to view an issue or problem from another angle or perspective
  2. Change of suggestion – you give new directives to the subconscious mind, which changes how you habitually or automatically responds to situations
  3. Change of commitment – you choose what you commit to and you act with honor and integrity
  4. Change of role – you perform other tasks, look at a problem from another perspective, and you do new things
  5. Change of values – you reexamine your ideas of what you “should,” “ought to,” or “must” do, have, or become, and modify them
  6. Change of goals – you set new priorities, changing when and how you will pursue a goal, and you re-evaluate the goals that you have set
  7. Change of concept – by gathering new information through study and learning, you develop new conceptual models to view the situation
  8. Change of self-awareness – through insight, you come to view problems and life situations in a new context
  9. Choosing to change – you activate your will to alter an existing behavior, attitude, belief, or construct

The idea of making a resolution means that:

  1. You will review your life
  2. You will acknowledge what you have accomplished
  3. You notice how you feel about what you have done
  4. Then you notice what feels incomplete, or what you desire that you don’t yet have
  5. You make a plan for obtaining it
  6. You commit yourself to doing it
  7. You do whatever it takes to achieve your objective

You decide to change. You resolve to change. You make change happen.

Things You Cannot Change

You can change your own behavior and can work on the conscious and unconscious levels of your own mind. You sometimes can persuade others to agree with you and get them to do what you want; sometimes you can’t.

You don’t control wars, diseases for which mankind has not found a cure, and the mighty forces of Nature that act beyond humanity’s ability to stop or control. You may not control aspects of your own nature—genetic conditions and mental tendencies that act outside of your ability to control then using your will or intention.

You must determine what you can do, what you are willing to do given your abilities and passion, and what you will do. We say, “act within your zone of liberty to improve your life, to make others’ lives better, and to make spiritual progress.”

Accept you cannot do everything, fix all problems, bring miraculous solutions for everyone, and instantly experience fulfillment of all of your dreams. Accept that healing takes time, and recovery from addiction and trauma takes time.

Accept what is. Believe in what can be. Do what you can to make constructive change where and when you can. Work to actualize your dreams and your spiritual potentials. Make this a life that counts and makes a difference.

Those of you who are in stable recovery from your addictions may find the Addiction Recovery Coaching Program helpful.

The Gentle Art of Making Things Happen or Not

By George A. Boyd © 2018

Q: Some people advocate we should attempt to change our life circumstances through using our will power and intention, and others say that we cannot change our fate and we should simply, radically accept who we are. How do you view this?

A: There are personal methods for change and acceptance; there are transpersonal ones. To understand these approaches, it will first be instructive to examine what they are.

Personal methods include:

  1. Goal setting (1st Ray) – This approach emphasizes that your Self, at the core of your personality, uses its faculty of volition to set and carry out goals. In this scenario, for example, you might decide that you need to take a course to augment your career, and you then sign up for an online class, and you study on a regular basis.
  2. Setting up the conditions to achieve something (2nd Ray) – This more intuitive method has you look at the context or environment in which you wish the action to take place, and set up the conditions so that you cannot fail to do it. This might involve you getting an accountability partner, whom you have to pay a fine, if you fail to do the action. Judges commonly use this approach. For example, if you have a first Driving While Under the Influence (DUI) conviction, if you drink while driving again, you lose your drivers license, you have to pay a large fine, and you will spend time in prison—if you must use your car to work and bring in money to support your family, these consequences may be sufficient to change your behavior.
  3. Problem solving (3rd Ray) – This frames the issues of your life and the things you want as problems that have a solution. This solution may have already been accomplished: certain people have done a system or program and it allowed them to achieve what you want or to overcome something that you consider a problem—you only have to copy what they did. In other cases, you may have to discover a way out through trial and error, and eventually stumble upon a successful resolution. For example, you may join a weight loss program that has already helped thousands of men and women lose weight.
  4. Going with the flow (4th Ray) – This view experiences that there is no Self, only the state of being, where life unfolds spontaneously in the moment. There is no doer, there is no Self, and there is no effort. Taoists call this “effortless action,” wu wei. The act of observing the situation creates the necessary adaption; no act of will is required in this perspective.
  5. Analysis and testing (5th Ray) – Scientists adopt this methodology. It begins with a hypothesis, which they test through an experiment. They may have to try different interventions until they arrive at a solution that works, and other researchers can replicate and validate your results. Analysis and testing is widely used to test the safety of medicines, consumer products, and clinical procedures. This approach typically requires significant funding and there may be regulatory hurdles that researchers must surmount before the product can reach the market.
  6. Asking for help – In this viewpoint, you may seek the advice, strength, protection, or guidance of someone who is stronger, more powerful, more experienced, or wiser than you. A child asks his father for advice. An employee solicits the guidance of a mentor, who can help her advance in the company, where she is working. A student queries his instructor on how to solve a problem that he doesn’t understand. An adherent of a religious group may seek counsel from the group’s minister, or she may pray and ask God to give her strength and wisdom to deal with a difficult situation in her life.
  7. Find a creative synthesis – In this systematic way of resolving a problem, you consider all of the elements that are needed to achieve the objective. This sees issues as whole systems, and designs interventions that take all factors into account, and provide dynamic, effective, efficient, and successful outcomes. For example, a businesswoman doing a product launch for a new cosmetic line pays attention to the details of manufacture, packaging, advertisement, placement with retailers, and customer support to provide a seamless experience for her employees, her vendors, and her customers.

Transpersonal methods operate beyond the zone of the personality: they channel through the personality or work on it from the standpoint of a detached witness. These include:

  1. Intentional creation – This occurs when your attentional principle anchors suggestion or affirmation to change behavior, belief, emotional reaction, or the conditions that operate in your life. You use a technique that works with your subconscious, unconscious, or Superconscious mind. [We teach these methods in our intermediate meditation classes, the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation or the by-mail or online Accelerated Meditation Program.]
  2. Faith creation – This conative impulse arises from your spirit, which might act to reform your attitudes, your morals, and your character, and influence you to live a more loving and compassionate life.
  3. Soul creation – This awakens when you tap into the wave of the present time on the Akashic Ether, which New Age groups call the Eternal Now. At this junction point between your human life and your Soul, your Soul is able to release old patterns in your life and create something new. Methods like process meditation, contemplating the eternal now, and feeling emotions to their origin activate the Soul’s power of re-creation. [We teach a method to access this center in our intermediate courses.]
  4. Moral will overshadowing – Groups that activate the Moon Soul or Christ Child nucleus of identity activate this aspect of the higher will. This interfaces with the conscience, and may use different techniques for moral persuasion to induce you to live up to ideal religious norms for behavior and belief. It may use shame, guilt, or fear to enforce obedience; when these measures do not work, it may even resort to punishment or austerity to ensure compliance.
  5. Solar angelic overshadowing – Groups that activate the Mighty I AM Presence or Solar Angelic nucleus of identity open the verbal channel for this essence to “speak the Word” to manifest particular conditions in their lives and in the world. This can take the form of prophetic messages, declarations of creation (decrees), inspired oratory, or channeling messages from Ascended Masters. The personality experiences this as a Higher Self or Divinized Aspect of the Soul that speaks the Word with great power and authority that operates independently of its functions and capabilities.
  6. Transpersonal will overshadowing – This aspect of will, which typically begins to overshadow the personality during the Third Planetary Initiation, leads the personality to align with the Soul’s mission and purpose. It may guide the personality to have different types of life experiences, to learn about certain subjects, to undergo training to acquire select skills, or to become employed in specific careers to prepare to become the Soul’s instrument to carry out its purpose.
  7. Divine will overshadowing – This type of will appears in individuals who are Spiritual Masters and their advanced disciples. Here the Divine, through the intermediation of the Spiritual Master, actively overshadows the personality. It takes three forms: (1) Holy Yeah – also called Agya, this is a commandment to carry out a specific action, (2) Holy Nay – this stops an action and does not personality to carry out an action, or (3) Holy Wait – this postpones and action for a more appropriate time. Those under the aegis of the Divine Will report that this Great Force guides many aspects of their lives, though they retain liberty of functioning in some areas.

In some religious contexts, the Divine Will is believed to be synonymous with Fate. They construe that where you are born, who your parents and family are, and the fortunate or unfortunate circumstances of your life are preordained by some mysterious plan or Divine decree, and you are powerless to change what you are experiencing. You simply have to accept it that this is your lot in life and realize that nothing will improve—so you need to make the best of what you’ve got.

The going with the flow perspective also predicates that you must radically accept what is, and stop trying to resist the Tao. Those that adopt this perspective believe that this surrender to the flow or Way leads to peace and harmony.

These other viewpoints hold that your personal Self, or certain aspects of your spiritual nature, has the agency to create change in your life—and you don’t have to simply surrender to what is, but you can change what you experience in life.

We suggest you familiarize yourself with each of the personal methods that can initiate change or promote acceptance, and use those ones that are appropriate for your situation. So for example, if you are surfing, you might adopt the going with the flow approach. If you have a problem, you can utilize the problem solving approach. If you are aiming to achieve a specific objective, you might wish to employ the goal setting approach.

You will find some of these are easier for you to use; some are harder. By flexibly using these different approaches, however, you may find one that works for you, even if it is not your preferred method to promote change or spur achievement.

As you learn meditation and begin to advance on the spiritual Path, you may find that you begin to experience interface with different aspects of your spiritual nature, and they may start to overshadow your personality. As your spiritual evolution unfolds, you will progressively incarnate higher aspects of your transpersonal potential until you ultimately become a direct instrument of the Living God, an Initiate or Spiritual Master.