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.

Whenever life gets messy, and things seem out of control, those three simple phrases float through my head and remind me to calm down.

They remind me to stay present, to not throw up a bunch of defense mechanisms, to not retreat into my brain and block out the world. But to face it head on, to try to face my discomfort in the face and bear the full brunt of whatever it is that I am feeling.

Our feelings are tricky, sometimes they throw us way off track, but sometimes there’s something that they’re trying to say. So I’m learning to stay with them. To create a space in my head and give myself time to step back, and breathe.

There’s the concept I learned from a book called Switch by Chip Heath & Dan Heath and have found in many other books since, but have to deal with:

The Elephant & The Rider

The Elephant is your emotions and the Rider is your logical rational reasoning. Without realizing it, your Elephant can sometimes get the best of you no matter what the Rider on top of the elephant tries to do to control them. So you just have to let the Elephant barrel and bumble its way through until it calms down and the Rider is able to regain composure.

They say that when you feel a feeling, it’s 26x times stronger than a thought, which is whey we are so driven when we have an urge or strong reaction or emotion. How can you ignore something that 26x times stronger than the thoughts you have in your mind?!

Oftentimes though our feelings are just direction pointers to something that we need, a deep seeded need that is not being met at the moment and just happens to be expressed in the form of crying, anger, frustration, sadness, guilt, addiction, bad habits, etc.

So, in moments that we stand on a precipice and are on the verge of going crazy, we have to remember the serenity prayer, and accept the cards that we’ve been dealt, courage to endure the situation, and the wisdom to stay levelheaded and collected so we can help those around us be better too.