Serenity & The Golden Rule
I spoke previously about resolve, and more specifically about resolutions. My one and only resolution this year was to hold myself accountable for adhering to the Serenity Prayer.
I will find a way to accept those things I cannot change, and I will pray for the strength to change the things I cannot accept.
Here is what I cannot change, and thus I absolve myself of any guilt over:
I cannot control the words, deeds, or thoughts of others.
I cannot effect change on a scale beyond my own limited reach (within my own home).
I cannot expect more from some people than they have proven themselves capable of.
I cannot overcome the hatred of people who judge others based on anything other than the content of their characters.
Here is what I cannot accept:
I cannot abide what I consider completely unwarranted hostile negativity, regardless of its source.
I cannot allow myself to feel pressured, whether by stress, guilt, or duplicitous manipulation, into acting contrary to my own self-interests or those of my family.
I cannot let myself ever again feel as if my life is not meaningful, and I will not tolerate anyone trying to convince me otherwise.
The Golden Rule is another facet of my religious upbringing that has influenced the way I have always tried to live my life.
"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets" (King James Version, 2017, Matt. 7:12).
I cannot let myself suffer needlessly for the sake of adhering to this rule. I feel like it was so deeply etched into me as a child that letting go of this instinctual need to be liked has become one of the greatest challenges I have faced during this journey.
I was sent a message about a month ago from a person I do not know (they may have found me via the short-lived Facebook advertising I did when I first started this blog). The message was hateful, and I received it on a day when I was already quite low. I deleted it after reading it, and without replying. To paraphrase, the message said that I should do everyone a favor and just kill myself if I can't bear to live the life of privilege I have, none of my problems matter, I don't have any right to whine and complain and cry as a... fill in the blanks yourself, but it was very much based on my race, gender, and sexuality.
I spoke with my therapist about it, but no one else until now. It bothered me a lot, but I felt it was doing a disservice to all the amazing, positive, affirming people in my life whose opinions really matter. Why did it bother me so much, what some malicious coward said from a fake account seemingly created solely for the purpose of pushing me further down?
I felt guilty for feeling so upset at the unsolicited anger of a complete stranger; I was giving that person power by caring at all what they thought of me... but I did care, and a part of me will always care how other people perceive me. So many incredible people say so many positive and uplifting things to me. I felt a lot of guilt over the fact that somehow I was letting this unknown nobody hurt me, like it was somehow a slap in the face of all the people that have taken time and gone to effort to lift me up.
However, while through my own words and deeds I have the power to influence the opinions of others, I cannot control the way people react or respond to me.
The people who like me do so because they choose to, and even if I could find some magic words to convince a person like the one who sent me that message to hate me a little less, it would be just as much a waste of my time as their message to me was a waste of theirs.
I have to accept that no matter how good a person I am, some people will always grade others on a curve based on aspects of my life that I cannot change (and wouldn't if I could).
I have to change within myself, the self-destructive tendency to care too much about others, even total strangers, at the expense of my own happiness.
My sincere hope is that I can find a way to embrace that change without sacrificing those aspects of myself that led so many wonderful people to decide I am worthwhile.
I cannot let myself become a victim of the Golden Rule that I have tried so hard to hold myself to.
King James Bible. (2017). King James Bible Online. https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/