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The path to serenity. Saturday January 30, 2016

"You always sound so calm and serene; tell me the essence I need for that." So wrote another member in reply to my blog "Wisdom received from Moodscopers Part 1 (20th October 2015).

Well here goes...

Ironically, the October "Wisdom" blog was published the day after a particularly depressing departmental meeting at work with my lovely team of caring, supportive colleagues, all of whom (me included) were experiencing stress, loss of sleep, loss of family time and frustration at the unreasonable deadlines we were being asked to meet. (So, Frankie, you should be working not writing a Moodscope blog!!!). Even our normally grounded Head of Department was experiencing physical signs of stress (heart palpitations) and our superbly efficient Second in Department was uncharacteristically near to tears.

In the past I too would have had the same feelings, but I don't – how come?

I have learnt that the only thing I can change is my response to this situation. I recognise that it is the situation which is unreasonable, not me so I don't feel guilty.

If I do start feeling stressed, then I acknowledge that it is a perfectly reasonable response given the unreasonable demands being made.

Re-reading the above makes it sound so simple, but it isn't; I know that, and it hasn't been easy to reach this point of acceptance. It has taken time, determination and constant repetitions (said aloud) of affirmations, such as:

"All things pass and this too shall pass."
"I am doing my best in a tough situation."
"These dead-lines are unreasonable, my response to them is reasonable."
"I am not alone in feeling this way; I am supported and understood."
And my favourite when with my colleagues "It was ever thus." To remind us all that we DO cope under pressure and that the deadlines do come and go.

And when I say it has taken time, it has, a long time; this new found serenity and acceptance did not happen overnight but over a period of months and was a gradual process with plenty of ups and downs along the way.

I once did some "silly" research to see how long it would take to change a habit. I decided to change the hand I use to hold a toothbrush and clean my teeth. I arrogantly thought that it would take me a week... it took six. Now, if it takes six weeks to change a simple thing like that, then think just how much longer it takes to change long-held (perhaps from childhood) thought patterns, responses and behaviours...

It brings me back time and time again to the Serenity Prayer:

(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.

What thought patterns and responses do you want to change? Are you ready to do so?

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Melissa Sat, Jan 30th 2016 @ 5:49am

So beautifully written, and all concepts I have learned in therapy and in the 12 Step programs I attend. Thank you for verbalizing it in such a clear way. Very inspiring!!!

Frankie Sat, Jan 30th 2016 @ 8:58am

Thank-you Melissa and good luck with the 12 Step progams. I would love to know more! Frankie

Eva Sat, Jan 30th 2016 @ 8:05am

Hi Frankie, this is a thought provoking blog. I have been giving thought to your Xmas experience with your family as I have been having a hard time coping with my mum after my father's death last year. In part we were both exhausted and in shock after his illness, so for a while I put my inability to tolerate her down to that (and a few things she did while he was dying), but eventually realised that I had built a trigger switch which resulted in meltdown whenever she was panicking about things that were already dealt with, (she worries about everything, and tells me repeatedly, and seems to glory in being a victim, I am not good at receiving the same info over and over, and can't abide dwelling on the negatives).

Anyway I managed, to take myself out of a situation yesterday and deal with it like an adult rather than a trigger happy child, and it's down to you, thanks so much. As you say forming a new habit takes a while, so I need to keep the trick upfront in my conscious, ready for the next time. Thanks again

and hello everyone I don't post often but I do read them every day. Glad to see you back bear, sorry to hear your family aren't as supportive as I think they should be of you. You are a wonderful giving person and they should be proud to be related to you.


Frankie Sat, Jan 30th 2016 @ 9:07am

Hello Eva - good to hear; thank-you for the feedback. Yes, it's remembering to "keep the trick upfront in my conscious" which is the key to success! I think of you from time to time as I work through my own grief so it' s good to know you are still around. Frankie

Alex Sat, Jan 30th 2016 @ 8:28am

"(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"

The thing about 'courage to change the things I can' is that not everything which *can*be changed necessarily *should* be changed.

It's a prayer Im very familiar with....16 years( sober) in AA. Left by accident....couldnt(as in literally, physically, couldn't) go to meetings(horrendous menopaws. I'll spare the detail but was dangerously anaemic, so you can guess. Began early, in my mid 30s, finished at 50, and was a nightmare scenario of every damn thing menopawsally possible. I thank G-d for the Edinburgh Well Woman clinic....)

After a few days away from meetings, .i could see things objectively: and yes, it helped me immensely, in the early days, but.....did a lot of damage, too. All of which is probably rather controversial, but among other things, I really didnt need my ego smashed, and my self esteem was already chronically non existent.

Had I stayed, it would have been 30 years, which boggles the mind somewhat....


Frankie Sat, Jan 30th 2016 @ 9:11am

Morning Alex; good to see you. Thank-you for this "should be changed". It has given me a whole new perspective to reflect on. Frankie

Leah Sat, Jan 30th 2016 @ 9:22am

Alex, "The thing about 'courage to change the things I can' is that not everything which *can*be changed necessarily *should* be changed." I really like this as I have often asked is changing something always a good thing what if I change something for the worse. Well done for 16 years sober. I found your post very enjoyable and thoughtful.

Soulmansblue Sat, Jan 30th 2016 @ 8:38am

Hey Frankie,

There was some really good stuff in that blog of yours. Some of is I already knew, but there was some that I said YES that is really helpful. Thanks.

Have a good weekend you all!


Frankie Sat, Jan 30th 2016 @ 9:13am

Morning SMB. Thank-you. Glad it helps. Would love to see some of your photos! Frankie

LillyPet Sat, Jan 30th 2016 @ 9:20am

Hey SMB, Yes I agree with that about Frankie's blog. I was glad to hear about your photography too. Thanks, have a good weekend too! LP :)

LillyPet Sat, Jan 30th 2016 @ 9:15am

Morning Frankie,
Serenity, calmness and peace of mind as a basis from which I go about my life dealing with, allowing and/or enjoying each day is what I want.
I've been fairly steady recently and am holding onto that with both hands! So I dont want to dwell on my negative thought patterns, but it tends to be a combination of being hormonal, stress and then a negative interaction with someone who Is not good for me and who I have very little control about having them in my life. I've responded by snapping and bluntly saying how I feel, which escalates into a "situation" Things for me go downhill and the thought patterns then become negative towards myself. "There's something very wrong with me. I need help."
I would have said that I wasnt ready to change it, but it all feels quite distant at the moment. I'll just stay with my determination to remain steady and see how it it goes.
Thank you for a wonderful blog Frankie. I love the gentle phrases to remind us that it's okay and it will be okay.
Warm hugs to all LP :) xx

Leah Sat, Jan 30th 2016 @ 9:29am

Serenity is a word that has never ever been used to describe me so it is not one I have ever aspired to. I am glad the words work for many others. The trick is finding a word, an ideal that fits our unique personality and making it work. Glad serenity works for you lilypet.

Frankie Sat, Jan 30th 2016 @ 10:43am

Morning LillyPet; Good to hear about your determination - yes, for me it is a daily choice (and sometimes I forget to make that choice ...!) Frankie x

Leah Sat, Jan 30th 2016 @ 9:18am

Frankie, thanks for sharing your thoughts.
I have never had much luck with affirmations. I suppose it is about knowing yourself and what works for you.I am pleased you have found things that work for you. Thanks .

Frankie Sat, Jan 30th 2016 @ 10:51am

Morning Leah - yes, it has taken me a lot of time and great determination for the affirmations to work. When I first started, my inner voice was very critical and disbelieving. However, I decided to keep saying them every morning, whether I believed them that day or not. For me, the simple act of saying them aloud (in the car usually) was my commitment to myself. Once said, I would not think about them anymore for the rest of the day. Gradually, I found myself saying them during the day too, which is when I realised that they were helping. But it did take weeks for that to happen ... I hope you find something that works for you Leah; thank-you for your thoughts. Frankie

Anonymous Sat, Jan 30th 2016 @ 9:49am

Its a simple prayer & it has helped me in recent years, both with my depression & my relationship with an alcoholic (& my own addictions)...its strange that I hadnt really seen the light re accepting the things I cannot change (& finding the wisdom to see the difference.. between those things I can change & those I can't). I tend to want to solve everything or overcome things..which sometimes is a positive & life affirming attitude but sometimes just leads to despair (especially regarding trying to cope with someone else's alcoholism). I love the word serenity. If I had to choose a goal in life it would be to find serenity. Thank you Frankie for your blog & wishing peace & serenity to all.

Frankie Sat, Jan 30th 2016 @ 10:55am

Morning Anonymous 9.49; this rang so true for me "I tend to want to solve everything ... which ... sometimes just leads to despair". Yes, me too! I sometimes jokingly say "if everyone just did as I said then everything would be fine" !!! I found Louise Hay hugely helpful with all this. Wishing you peace of mind and heart. Frankie

susan Sat, Jan 30th 2016 @ 12:00pm

I love the affirmations you listed--especially the third one which is a good one for me. Your dedication to keep repeating them until they went deep and effected change is very inspiring. Also inspiring is the way you deal with your health issues, work issues and sister issues, all difficult (a heavy load to which I relate completely). You are an inspiration, Frankie.....thank you. Great blog, by the way:) xx

Frankie Sat, Jan 30th 2016 @ 4:59pm

Hello susan - thank-you for your kind words. Frankie xx

The Gardener Sat, Jan 30th 2016 @ 5:14pm

I had been aiming if not for 'serenity' (not a possibly) at least acceptance and 'making the best of a bad job'. Suddenly things have gone badly downhill - Mr TG has, for the last two years at least, indulged in 'malades imaginaires' lasting each one about a month and very disruptive. Now if I am trying to do something or talking to someone he claims he is 'faint and dizzy'. I have to give him the benefit of the doubt, but as soon as he has my 150% attention he is OK. His demands for shut doors and virtually no light have increased - I've always suffered the SAD syndrome - but by travelling or getting outside a lot I've coped with it. Now, imprisoned in a virtual 'cell' and, as seen by doc on friday becoming very unwell. Very seldom, in the midst of extreme vicissitudes, have I not been able to see a gleam of light or something funny. I'm sitting knitting and listening to good radio - but the dark's so awful. It sounds crazy, people say 'call his bluff' but if I go into another room I get yelled at and if I turn another light on he accuses me of making him blind. I am getting seriously morbid - and contemplating extreme measures if I should get to the same state, the idea that my family should go through what I am is an awful thought.

Frankie Sat, Jan 30th 2016 @ 6:11pm

Evening dear Gardener; how about lighting a candle - with the flame near you and a shield on Mr. G's side so he can't see it? Can you think of the dark as comforting? nurturing? soothing? I sit here amazed yet again at your courage and determination (knitting and listening to radio)- you are an example to us all ... Frankie

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