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Acceptance is NOT the Answer

General Mental Health

How are you doing? How are you coping? Are you feeling uncomfortable? The death of George Floyd and the resulting protests, riots, and looting, and calls to action have led to a lot of strong emotions. These feelings range from anger and rage to sadness, fear, and confusion to hope and can feel uncomfortable. When we go out of our comfort zones, we can learn, grow, and change. A lot of the work done at Serenity Solutions involves helping people learn how to sit with discomfort in order to live a meaningful life.

Like many white-identified people, I have spent the last two weeks reading as much as I can on how to be antiracist. In my search, I came across this quote.

“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”-Angela Y. Davis

This quote differs from the Serenity Prayer.

“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.”-Reinhold Niebuhr.

The Serenity Prayer was adopted by 12-step programs as a mantra to help their members stay clean and sober. Many of the people I work with have heard me quote this prayer. It can be so helpful for someone struggling to manage their anger when a loved one or coworker continues to behave in ways they don’t like.

Interestingly enough, when I googled how to spell the author’s name, I learned that the Serenity Prayer has been altered over the years. The original prayer was:

“Father, give us courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.”-Reinhold Niebuhr.

The original prayer is more like the quote by Angela Y. Davis, focusing on what MUST change. The protests that have been going on in Philadelphia, across the country, and around the world are exactly this. People have been making their voices heard about the injustice of the death of George Floyd and so many others. They are speaking up about the long history of systemic racism in this country, educating themselves, advocating for policy change, and donating to causes fighting against racism and helping those who are impacted.

sun coming through the trees onto road

Change is necessary.

I encourage you to use your discomfort to motivate you to explore what you can do to work toward change, personally, and at a systemic level. Speak up, educate yourself, use your voice to help.

I am using my discomfort to work toward change. As a social worker, I understand how our environments affect our mental health and wellbeing. I believe that everyone should be treated equally. Black Lives Matter. In therapy sessions with the people I work with, I continue to listen, hold space, and provide support as they work through feelings of anger, fear, or confusion. As the owner of Serenity Solutions, I am also exploring what I can do as an organization to work toward change and not perpetuate racism in our own lives and in the office. Here is my initial plan.

  1. I have begun to do my own work by educating myself about the history ofprotest sign reading fight today for a better tomorrow racism, white privilege, and white fragility. I have also joined an affinity group to explore my implicit and explicit biases. 
  2. I have set up monthly donations to the Philadelphia Community Bail Fund, NAACP, and Therapy for Black Girls.
  3. I have sent letters to my representatives and signed multiple online petitions, advocating for change.
  4. For Serenity Solutions, I am working on a policy to ensure that all staff receive training and education about racism to help them do their own work so that racism doesn’t show up in our therapy rooms. 

If you are looking for some resources to help you step into discomfort and work toward change, here are some resources that I have found helpful.

44 Mental Health Resources for Black People Trying to Survive in this County

75 Things white people can do for racial Justice

Anti-racism resources for white people

CNN/Sesame Street Race Town Hall

Learn more about Anger Management treatment at Serenity Solutions, and reach out if you’re looking for support navigating these challenging times.