The Serenity Prayer is so simple but so wise.  I think of it often when I am dealing with a difficult situation, and I encourage my clients to use it in their own lives.  The Serenity Prayer has a special message for individuals who are living with a bleeding disorder.  So I wanted to share my thoughts on this message.

Grant me the grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,

One of the hardest parts about learning to live with a chronic health condition like a bleeding disorder is that it introduces change into your life, change that you didn’t ask for.  Nobody chooses to be diagnosed with a chronic condition.  It’s like an uninvited houseguest that’s not going away.  An important step toward learning to live with your bleeding disorder is to accept it will be a part of your life, or a part of your child’s life.

Coming to accept the demands that a bleeding disorder makes on your life is a process.  Denial is often one of the first reactions to a diagnosis. It’s only human to hope that if we ignore something long enough it will go away on its own.  We want to be in control of our lives, we want our children to be in control of their lives, and a bleeding disorder is a reminder that we’re not in control.  On an especially hard day, you may be feeling like just digging in and living your life the way you expected it would be – without the challenges and the responsibilities that go along with a bleeding disorder. Without all those challenges and uncertainty!

But somehow you keep going.  Two steps forward, one step back.  Because that’s just what you do.  How?  Because over time, you’ve come to this acceptance.

Accepting with grace does not mean giving up.  It means making the decision to face life as it is, with an open heart.  That’s serenity.

Courage to change the things that should be changed,

Embracing change means taking the best possible care of yourself, physically, mentally, and spiritually.  And teaching your child to do the same.  Following the self-care plan, being adherent, staying informed, working with the healthcare team.  Along with getting, and giving, support.  That can mean mending relationships, even when it means admitting you’re wrong, or taking the first step when you don’t think you’re wrong.  And asking for help when the last thing you want to do is to ask for help.  Making small and not so small changes are steps toward living your life at your full potential.  And helping your child to do the same, even with a bleeding disorder.

Change doesn’t happen overnight.  We’re all a work in progress.  Forgive yourself when you take a step back, and be willing to forgive others.

Embrace the potential of change in your life.  And take action to create changes that support your wellbeing.  And your child’s wellbeing.  That’s courage.

And the wisdom to know the difference. 

When you accept the aspects of your life that you don’t have control over, then you can focus your energy on where you do have control. You can stop fighting with yourself. And the way forward becomes a whole lot clearer.

Now, being wise about what you can and cannot control can sound like a tough nut because it goes against that need to maintain control that is hardwired into all of us humans.  Be patient.

Wisdom comes from experience, and being willing to learn from your experience. Don’t worry, it’s not hiding from you.  Connect with your wisdom by being quiet and listening to your own inner voice.  How about teaching your child to do the same?

Here’s a question that might help:  When you’re faced with a decision to make, or when you’re having an especially rough day, ask yourself: What’s the best I can do to be the best I can be, for myself and for the people I care about?  Listen closely for your answer.  Trust your inner voice to guide you in the right direction.

Wisdom grows over time, day by day…

As you face each day… with serenity… and courage.

Gary McClain, PhD, is a therapist, patient advocate, and educator, specializing in helping clients deal with the emotional impact of chronic and life-threatening health conditions, as well as their families and professional caregivers.  He works with them to understand and cope with their emotions, to learn about their lifestyle and treatment options, to maintain compliance with medical regimens, to communicate effectively with each other and healthcare professionals, and to listen to their own inner voice as they make decisions about the future. His website is


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