“It Is What It Is’ : How Can We Learn To Accept What We Cannot Control? By Dr Linda Berman.


Henri Lebasque – On the Balcony, at Cannet, Flickr.

“Grant me the serenity to accept the

things I cannot change

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.”

(Serenity Prayer.)

Developing acceptance, when things are unchangeable, is an important way of learning to cope with life’s problems. Currently, the pandemic is causing untold disruption and grief in the world.

Whilst this may be unbearable and unsettling for many, ultimately this awful virus will diminish and we will all be left with many different feelings: relief, grief, sadness, hope.

“There are some things I can’t control, & that’s just the way it is.” 
 Susane Colasanti

Cultivating an ‘it is what it is’ attitude in the face of difficulties which cannot be altered does not have to be about defeat, or not caring, resignation or shirking responsibility. It can be one of the accepting ways of thinking in an impossible situation.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

Maya Angelou.

It means we may be freer to face and move onwards with painful issues, not only in terms of coronavirus, but also when there is terminal illness, exam failure, loss of someone close, or disability.

Being in a state of denial only makes things harder; repressing our feelings inevitably causes them to come out in other ways, perhaps through nightmares, psychosomatic symptoms and psychological illness.

“The essence of bravery is being without self-deception.”
Pema Chödrön



“The best thing to do when it is raining is to let it rain.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.


“We sail within a vast sphere, ever drifting in uncertainty, driven from end to end.”

Blaise Pascal


Vilhelm Hammershøi – Interior with Ida in a White Chair [1900]. Flickr:Gandalf’s Gallery.

In the current situation, we are all beset with feelings of uncertainty. It is hard not to worry about what might happen, to ourselves, our loved ones, friends, the world. We may feel overwhelmed and powerless.

Isolation and lack of social contact may exacerbate this. That is why it is important to try to talk to others about our feelings, which many people will experience too. This will only enhance friendship, community spirit and connection.


Gustave Caillebotte, c.1880, L’homme au Balcon. Wikimedia Commons.

 “A warrior accepts that we can never know what will happen to us next.”
Pema Chödrön

In actual fact, although it is hard, acceptance of the situation is a kind of control. Paradoxically, once we let go of a desire to gain control, we often feel more in control.

“The moment you accept what troubles you’ve been given, the door will open.” Rumi.

Making a decision to stop trying to control impossible events means the we can use that controlling energy to be more creative.

We can free ourselves to focus on what we wish to do, even though this might be different from what we had planned. We can work out new aims and devise activities to suit this extraordinary kind of ‘house arrest’ that many of us are experiencing.

“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”
Allen Saunders

“In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Learning to Relax.

“As one student said, “Lower your standards and relax as it is.”

Pema Chödrön


Mary Cassatt – On a Balcony – 1938. Wikimedia Commons

With all the stress that is around, it is important to take time out and relax. However you choose to do this, whether it is through reading, meditation, taking a walk, a leisurely bath or watching TV, it is even more essential now.

Spring has come, despite coronavirus; there is new growth, new life and some sunshine. Let’s be grateful, at least, for this and take some time to go out, where we can. I do appreciate this may be harder for some than others at this difficult time.

If we are able to, going outside, perhaps into a garden, means that we may reconnect with Nature, even if it is just from an open window, experiencing the new buds, the sunshine, the birdsong.

This is the best time of the year for birdsong, as the males stake out their territory and try to attract their mates. Listen to this recording!

“The promise of spring’s arrival is enough to get anyone through the bitter winter!”

Jen Selinsky



“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”

                                                          Percy Bysshe Shelley

“When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into it’s dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment.”

Pema Chödron


“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.”

Deepak Chopra.

Will Acceptance Lead To Lasting Change? Will We Learn To Be More Caring?

Inevitably, having come to accept our radically altered world, there will be no returning to how things were before this pandemic. Things will change on many levels, perhaps in ways we cannot imagine at the moment.

We now have a chance to rethink, to take stock. This imposed isolation from the world does give us an opportunity to re-examine our lives.

After months of communicating in different ways, of caring for others online and from a distance, of not going into shops, pubs or restaurants, of making do with some of the food we have, there will be developing new ways of thinking about our world.

When the coronavirus finally subsides and we begin to return to our lives, will we want everything back? Will we arrange some aspects differently?

Let us hope that we can renew ourselves and our view of the world and that these new attitudes will be lastingly based on respect, thoughtfulness, and love.

“This virus will leave us entirely newborn people. We will all be different, none of us will ever be the same again. We will have deeper roots, be made of denser soil, and our eyes will have seen things.”

C. JoyBell C.

49668925617_8d8836c310_cHenri Martin – The Joy of Life [1905] Flickr:Gandalf’s Gallery.


Orchard in Blossom. Bordered by Cypresses. Van Gogh.

© Linda Berman.


  1. Good article. Acceptance of any problem is the first step to stop the blame and feeling of helplessness to find the solution. When change is very difficult or not in control of individual then need to do what one can to prevent its spread becomes important. Further, surrender to Lord is the final step. Do your best and accept the outcome, whatever it maybe. This is the basic tenets of Hindu religion/ philosophy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Nita for your interesting comments and information about the Hindu approach to this issue. I’m glad you liked the post and found it accorded with your world view. 🙏🌻


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s