One Day at a Time & the Serenity Prayer

I find it strange, watching the ebb and flow of humanity around me, whether at home at work or at play. Change and not disorder is the natural order of things, and it takes many of us long years before we realize this; some of us never do. We plod through life, trying to impose order on our immediate world, and we call it organizing or scheduling when what we should really be doing is riding the wave of change. Sometimes, in our inability to impose our own view of organization on our immediate surroundings, we perceive ourselves as failing in some way, as weaker than our colleagues. We fear this weakness.

Those of us who have fallen down in some manner, and in so doing acknowledged and faced our weaknesses, realize in the well-known words of the “serenity prayer” what the key to life truly is. Whether we ask God, the universe or some other power or force we see as greater than ourselves, the words speak to the deepest feelings in us and the need we have as individuals to control our lives. The words of that “prayer” are as follows:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things that I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

I have gone through a very difficult period in which I became tired, dissatisfied, discontented, overworked, overwhelmed and generally unhappy. I finally reached out for and accepted help that was available. I began to take steps to change. I came face to face with my own reflection, every blemish and flaw visible to the examiner. When I did so, I saw a very different person from the one I may have seen before, or for that matter, preferred to see before. In having the courage to look at myself, and I mean really look at myself, I could find the serenity to accept myself for who I really am. In accepting who I am, I recognize those aspects of my character of which I may not always be so proud. Finally, in recognizing my individual frailties and vulnerabilities, I sought and found the courage to make those changes in myself that allowed me to perceive the world around me in a form that is not as frightening or overwhelming as I previously allowed it to be. In so doing, I learned who I am as a person, as an individual, and who I can be. In acknowledging who I really am, I found the wisdom to make the changes I needed to make in myself, rather than trying to change those around me.

It is not wrong, nor is it weak, to accept a hand up and out of our difficulties. We do not consider it weak to reach out a hand for assistance if we are drowning, or falling, or already down and injured. It would be foolish to remain figuratively on the ground, unable to rise, while hands reached out all around us to help us to our feet. So why, then, do we fear so much reaching for that help if the assistance we need is for emotional or psychological help? Why do we perceive some sort of stigma in that form of assistance?

A hand extended in friendship and in support is not a handout in the pejorative sense of that word. The Lawyers’ Assistance Program, or LAP is a program designed specifically to extend that hand in friendship, and in guaranteed confidentiality. It is an organization of fellow lawyers that exists for the sole purpose of support and assistance when a colleague finds himself or herself in need of help, when the sea of change around us becomes overwhelmingly stormy and frightening. When this happens, stop-take a moment to think, and then take a moment to call out. Once you have taken that first step, or reached out, it really becomes a matter of one day at a time. The first step, that first call, is by far the most difficult. Do not be afraid to take it. I took that step. I am happy I did. Happier than I have ever been or could have imagined being. I am once again satisfied with my work, appreciative of my spouse and my children, and healthy and full of energy.

If you find yourself in such a position, feel free to call on LAP or even if you just wish to talk, call on LAP as you would a friend.