By Kim Olver

When I think of accepting, the Serenity Prayer comes to mind:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; 
Courage to change the things I can; 
And the wisdom to know the difference.

There is however, a Choice Theory modification to this prayer and it goes like this: 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change;
Courage to change the one I can; 
And the wisdom to know that person is me! 

When we truly accept another person as he or she is, we no longer experience anger, frustration and resentment, hence the “serenity.” If you find yourself still resenting the other person, angry they won’t change, and/or frustrated with their behavior, you haven’t really accepted, have you? You are still attempting to change the other person, even though you may no longer be actively using deadly habits. You are still using emotions to coerce the other person to bend to your will.


Acceptance sounds something like this: “I know I haven’t accepted certain things about you in the past. I even tried many things to get you to see it my way and to change. But from this day forward, I am accepting every part of you. I am no longer trying to change you. It is your life and you get to live it in the way that is best for you.”

Then you have a decision to make. Just because you accept someone and their right to live their life however they choose, does not mean you want to stay in a connected relationship with that person. It is your job to take care of yourself. If you want something from another person . . . let’s say it’s your sister and you want her to stop using drugs . . . you can accept her as a person and accept her right to make decisions that may be self-destructive but that doesn’t mean you have to be a bystander witness to her self-destruction. You may choose to disengage from someone whose choices are painful to you.

If you are in a marriage and your spouse is cheating on you, you may accept him or her and recognize your spouse has the right to make that choice but that doesn’t mean you need to stay married and watch.

Is there something about an important person in your life you have been resisting? Are you ready to move in the direction of accepting that thing, whatever it is?

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