Carefully Choosing My Battles

Because I’d rather spend my time on things I can change

Aunty Jean
2 min readApr 12


Photo by Mayank Dhanawade on Unsplash

“That’s not fair!” Most children employ this phrase several times a day. Expressing frustration when things don’t turn out the way we want, is a normal part of human development. If we are lucky, we have a loving adult nearby, to acknowledge our feelings of disappointment and to help us work through them.

Many things in life are not fair, we know this intellectually; but to move on, we have to feel the futility in our brain’s emotional circuitry, too.

“Futility is a vulnerable feeling, bringing us face-to-face with the limits of our control and with what we cannot change.” link Gordon Neufeld, PhD and Gabor Maté, MD

Even for adults, it is hard to deal with feelings of futility. Especially when we work hard for change, yet get disappointed again and again. The frustration, the anger, the sadness. Wondering if things will ever change.

My eyes brim with tears, that then flow down my cheeks, as sometimes the sadness and seeming futility of it all feels absolutely overwhelming.

We often learn to hide our tears as adults, but the impulse to cry is hardwired into feelings of futility. Of course, there are other experiences that can move us to tears as well, like something in our eye, onions, physical pain, and frustration. The tears of futility are set off by different neurological circuitry and are psychologically unique. They feel different on our cheeks. They are accompanied by a shift in energy: a healthy sadness. . . Tears of futility actually bring a release. . . (link)

The body is truly a miracle. The body knows what to do. Sit with your feelings of futility, rest in the tears.

I am not religious, but I do find comfort in The Serenity Prayer, which begins:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; And wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time. . .

Notice that the prayer says, “To accept the things I cannot change”, which is different from simply accepting that things will never change. I do what I can, you do what you can, and together we may bring about change.

Because I can only change myself and you can only change yourself. Once we both come to that realization, we can end all the infighting, and realize that finding peace within ourselves will promote overall peace in the community, the country, the world.



Aunty Jean

Constantly curious, dog-loving, anti-racism, politically progressive, book-loving, vegan lady. I want to keep learning every day, exploring other points of view