"We learned about life as children and
it is necessary to change the way we intellectually view life in order
to stop being the victim of the old tapes. By looking at, becoming
conscious of, our attitudes, definitions, and perspectives, we can start
discerning what works for us and what does not work. We can then
start making choices about whether our intellectual view of life is serving
us - or if it is setting us up to be victims because we are expecting life
to be something which it is not."
"In order to stop giving our power away, to stop
reacting out of our inner children, to stop setting ourselves up to be
victims, so that we can start learning to trust and Love ourselves, we
need to begin to practice discernment.
Discernment is having the eyes to see, and the
ears to hear - and the ability to feel the emotional energy that is Truth.
We cannot become clear on what we are seeing or
hearing if we are reacting to emotional wounds that we have not been willing/able
to feel and subconscious attitudes that we have not been willing/able to
We cannot learn to trust ourselves as long as
we are still setting ourselves up to be victimized by untrustworthy people.
We cannot learn to Love ourselves enough to meet our own needs until we
start to release the attitudes and feelings that tell us that we are unworthy
- that it is somehow shameful to be ourselves. We cannot learn to
Love ourselves without learning discernment.
The black and white thinking of Codependence causes
us to either keep the baby in the dirty bath water or throw out both. Discernment
is picking the baby out of the dirty bath water."
(All quotes in this color are from Codependence:
The Dance of Wounded Souls)
This is the first in a series of articles which
are going to be focused on applying the Serenity Prayer in our lives so
that it is possible to take responsibility for our lives and learn to be
more Loving to our selves. For anyone who is not familiar with the
Serenity Prayer, here is the commonly accepted version of it - followed
by my own personal adapted version.
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
(The Serenity Prayer is generally thought to
have been written by Reinhold Niebuhr)
God / Goddess / Great Spirit, please help me to
the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
(life, other people),
the courage and willingness to change the things
I can (me, my own attitudes and behaviors),
and the wisdom and clarity to know the difference.
This is such a powerful, simple, and functional
formula for living life that references to it comes up in my writing quite
often. I am probably going to be devoting a number of articles to
sharing how I have learned to apply this prayer - this mystical guideline
for spiritual integration and emotional balance - into my relationship
with life in order to achieve some serenity, to find some happiness and
peace in my human experience.
I think it is pretty obvious that the most important
component in this prayer is "the wisdom to know the difference."
Without the wisdom to know the difference between the things we cannot
change and the things we can change, the prayer really has little application.
The way that we learn to have wisdom is by learning to practice discernment.
Several years ago someone sent me an e-mail with
information they had gotten from a web site that offered explanations for
where some of our common English language expressions originated.
The explanations were quite interesting. One that particularly interested
me was the genesis of the expression "Don't throw out the baby with the
The explanation was that large families and their
field helpers and their families all took baths once a week in the same
tub of water. The men would go first, then the women, then the children
from oldest to youngest. Thus by the time the baby was put in the tub of
water it was quite murky, and probably thick with grime and dirt - thus
making it possible to lose the baby in the bath water. I just did
an internet search on the great search engine Google and within a few minutes
found a document that stated that explanation wasn't true at all, and the
phrase originated in German. Another internet hoax. Oh well.
The image works for me.
It really doesn't matter where the phrase comes
from, it is an apt and wise proverb that refers to practicing discernment.
Discern - 1. To perceive, as with sight or mind;
recognize; apprehend. 2 To discriminate mentally; recognize as separate
and different. 3. To distinguish; discriminate.
Discernment - 1. The act or process of being discerning.
2, The mental power of discerning; keenness of judgment; insight.
See synonyms under acumen, understanding, wisdom. (Webster's New
Discernment is about learning to separate truth
from lies, illusion from reality, fantasy from facts. It is about
learning the difference between: emotional truth and Spiritual Truth;
emotional impulse and intuitive guidance; being victimized and feeling
like a victim. It is about recognizing the difference between a person
that can be trusted and one who will betray us - between a soul connection
and a emotional attraction to a person who is emotionally unavailable.
Practicing discernment is necessary to learn to
trust ourselves and Love ourselves. It is necessary to be able to
live life in a mature adult manner. It is necessary in order to have
a chance to have healthy relationships - especially a romantic relationship.
You can see why I think discernment is pretty
important. Discernment is the key ingredient for applying the Serenity
Prayer to living our lives - so I will devote some articles to discussing
discernment and the process of learning how to practice it in one's life.