A couple of external blogs have published my work this past month, and I preached at my church. I’d like to share with you about these works and give you links where you can get more.
One of the ways I find that my clients (and I) can make ourselves miserable is by wishing for a better past. “He shouldn’t have done that,” we might think, or “I should have gotten an interview for that job!”
It also shows up in wishing for other people to be different. “You should do [xyz] without my telling you!” or “You should want to do this!”
When we use our energy in this way, to resist reality, we have no chance of making any difference in our own life or anyone else’s. The serenity prayer reminds us to conserve that energy. Let go of the complaint. Accept what is.
But sometimes we act as if the serenity prayer contains only that first line, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”
It goes on. And the rest of the serenity prayer has been ringing loudly in my mind these last few weeks.
When attempts at motivating an employee are going poorly, what can you do before you show them the door? Look at yourself.
When you struggle to motivate others, try to engage openly in self-examination, inviting feedback and remaining open to change.
It feels counterintuitive at first because we are so aware of what those others are doing that should be different. But, no matter how hard you try you cannot change someone else.
You can, however, effectively change yourself, and when you change yourself you change the dynamic of the relationship. That will always have an impact.
I preached at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus on Sunday, August 21. A few days later I recorded the readings and sermon as a podcast that you can hear here.
A teaser of the content:
Whether our experiences of wrongness are so short-lived you barely notice the shift, or are more like a pit of awfulness, we know how horrible it feels to realize we’ve been wrong. Wrong to judge some group for its behavior or history. Wrong to judge people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Wrong to merely stay in our privileged racial bubble. Some of us carry what I have heard called “White Liberal Guilt.” And yeah, that is probably deserved. I don’t want it to be true, but I have to admit there’s more I could do. Parts of my mind have been too closed.
Some of us come from traditions rich in guilt, and the guilt habit is hard to break. How many of us were Catholic, or Jewish, or Baptist before we came here? Do you think we left all that guilt behind? I don’t think so. We have a new list of things we “should” do– Some of them different from the old ones, but not all. Are we serving in some way at the church? Are we involved in social justice or our nation’s democratic process? How’s your stewardship?
I suspect none of us really believe we are off the hook for any of that. But sometimes we get stuck in feeling guilty instead of knowing how to get unstuck and move forward.
Maybe guilt can motivate us sometimes, but I know that with me it more often leads to shutting down and shutting out, or grasping for control in the form of self-righteousness, even around my new liberal values.