David Richo tells us that there are five facts of life we cannot change, the unavoidable givens of being human, aka the conditions of existence:
- Things change and end.
- Life is not always fair.
- Pain is part of life.
- Things do not always go according to plan.
- People are not always loyal or loving.
None of us are immune to the above. They are ingredients of life. No one is entitled to an exemption. The functional ego says yes to the conditions of existence, the neurotic ego resists them. Increased suffering results when we take a combative approach to things we cannot change. Certainly we can work to change ourselves, and we can respectfully (i.e. non-manipulatively) attempt to influence change in our environments. However, there are times and situations in which our attempts to influence do not yield the outcomes we desire. We can continue to fight reality, or we can invoke the wise words of the Serenity Prayer:
Lord, grant me the patience to accept the things I cannot change; change the things I can; and have the wisdom to know the difference.
It has been a summer full of David Richo. We will be wrapping up our marathon exploration of How to be an Adult in Relationships soon. There is just so much wisdom in this little book. I have only hit the high points. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. I predict you will want a hard copy because there is so much to highlight, underline and punctuate. It really is a “manual for living” as I head a colleague describe it. We will have just a few more blog posts based on Richo’s book over the next few weeks, looking at different facets of the neurotic ego and how to let it go. Stay tuned.
Until then, peace.