When things don’t go to plan

Serenity prayer

Yesterday evening, I did something I have never done before… I booked a proper teenage baby sitter to look after small son for a couple of hours. Relatives and friends have stepped in to look after the boys in the past, but that evening I was going to choose myself; invest in myself; book a babysitter and go to a new yoga class. Having sat three days in a row, face to screen for my work, I decided it was time to get up and do some exercise.

Snacks were purchased for the babysitter, small boy was showered and I was ready to roll when my friend’s lovely daughter arrived. Stepping out in my leggings, yoga mat rolled up under my arm and water bottle in my bag, I felt good and relaxed. This kind of evening had not happened in a long time. When I arrived at the venue (a Spiritualist church), all was quiet. As I was early, I left it a little while and then tried the door. Nothing. I went back to the car, tapped on my phone to check the details online; right place, right time. I tried again; knocked the door; no response. It was just 5 minutes until class. In the window, a sign confirmed that I was there on the right day at the right time, but something was up. Perhaps teacher was on holiday, I still don’t know, but clearly there was no class. Disappointed, but not downhearted, I would go home and get my bike out and ride round the park.

At home, small boy and sitter were surprised to see me back so early. After a brief explanation, I went out to the shed, took out my bike and hopped on. I was half way round the park before I realised I had a flat tyre, so I hopped off and walked it home. This time, I felt a little bit puzzled… what else was standing in the way of me doing exercise tonight? What next? I wondered. For a brief moment, I considered a trip to the swimming pool, but if there’s one thing I am superstitious about, it’s things happening in threes. With my rather pathetic swimming abilities, I decided now was not the right time to tempt fate and risk a trip to the pool and whatever my next obstacle to exercise may be and gave up.

In the past, I may have felt angry, upset, frustrated at this point, but something has changed in me this year. My reaction this time was one of puzzlement and acceptance. Why was there no yoga class this evening? Clearly I just wasn’t supposed to be doing any exercise last night.

Some things we have influence over and others we can’t control, so why try? It is this feeling of surrender to what is that has become a relatively recent feature of my approach to life.

“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.”

This is commonly known as The Serenity Prayer and was authored by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971).

Knowing that I have the power to change certain things, though it may take great courage, is a massive motivator to take positive action. Having the wisdom, and in some cases, the restraint, to step back from the things I cannot control and let go can be hugely liberating. There have been many times in my life when I have tried to control things – people, situations, inevitabilities – obviously with great spending of energy and zero success or reward. But I am loosing my grip. It is not always easy, but when things don’t go to plan, the ability to accept what is and step back can be a gift. It’s a practice I am nurturing and a sense of peace is the prize.


What has not gone to plan for you recently?

How did that feel? How did you react?

What do you have the power to change right now that would do you good?

Is it time to take action?

What do you keep trying to control, but cannot?

What would it take for you to step back and release the desire for power and control?

Let’s start a conversation in the comments below…



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