Whatever Needs To Be Is

Words by Emily’s hand lettered phrase “Whatever needs to be is”


I’m not religious, but I’ve always loved the Serenity Prayer.

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference

I think I like this prayer because I pride myself on being courageous enough to make change. I pride myself on this, and I see it’s not the whole answer. Acceptance is a critical partner to courage, and it’s something I am always working on. Often, in ways that aren’t terribly mature, I think things need to be a certain way, and I’m so frustrated when they aren’t. 

But the truth is that most of what I think of as needs are really wishes in disguise. They may be deeply held and beautiful wishes (needing a loved one to get better) or they may be flip and shallow wishes (needing pizza on a Friday night). Either way, so much of what I tend to think of or verbalize as needs are just something that is required in order to yield an outcome I would like (healthy relative, pizza in my mouth). Substituting “need” when I really mean “would like” can create a compression and an urgency that just isn’t helpful for me.

This is not to say that what I would like is wrong or bad. Or to say that what is is always good. This is to say that there is a lot of suffering in the world and, for me, believing things need to be a certain way only adds to it. 

So this is a little note to myself. A reminder of something that I find useful to keep front of mind. If something is needs to be, if something must be, if it is necessary, then it already is. If it isn’t, well, it must not have needed to be. It’s only something I would’ve liked.

Published by Emily P.G. Erickson

Emily P.G. Erickson is a freelance writer specializing in mental health and parenting. She has written for popular digital publications, including Everyday Health, Health, The New York Times, Parents, Romper, WIRED, and more. Emily is a professional member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) and the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ). Previously, Emily researched PTSD for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and earned a master's in psychology. You can find the latest from Emily at www.emilypgerickson.com.

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