Our past can really complicate our present—if we let it. Sadly, we can’t change our past, but we can work to identify how and why we have allowed past issues to affect our lives today.

We can stop the vicious cycle that keeps us from walking in freedom and living the life God has for us.

Sometimes we don’t fully understand how events from our past have contributed to a faulty belief system or have established triggers that cause us to operate in fear, hurt, sin, or shame in the present. Sometimes our memories are too painful to consciously remember, so we subconsciously block them out. Yet they exist and can negatively affect our attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, circumstances, coping skills, desires, and emotions.

Being able to explore the emotions of the challenging events of our past and put them behind us takes hard work and commitment.

However, knowing the root issues and doing something about changing them are two entirely different things. Being able to accept the things you cannot change does not mean you will forever be shackled to accepting your lot in life.

Accepting does not mean settling.

The Serenity Prayer is the common name for an originally untitled prayer by the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. It’s a prayer about learning how to accept hard things in life and has been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step programs. Chances are, you’ve heard all or part of this well-known prayer over the course of your life. It’s a long prayer, but this is the part quoted most often:

“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.”

There was a time I thought it was impossible to have serenity, courage, and wisdom. I was too lost, too broken, and, frankly, too tired to even try.

Thankfully, God wasn’t.

To identify and overcome issues that negatively impact our lives, we need to discern the difference between who and what we can and cannot change. Understanding these differences is critical on our journey to realize what to accept and what to proactively change.

To learn more about the accepting the things you cannot change and the Seven Steps to COURAGE, check out my book Courage For Life.