The Serenity Prayer: The Core of Recovery
The Serenity Prayer is apart of your recovery, you say it every day, but have you really thought about what it truly means? How does it actually apply in your life? The more time you spend really thinking about it, you’ll discover that it’s the foundation of recovery.
Make a List
“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can”
The first three opening lines of the prayer tell you what you need to first do. You need to identify what you can change and what you cannot change. Make a list. Get some paper and a pen and make a physical list. “Things I can change.” “Things I cannot change.” Start with something you can actually change. Start small. Really ask yourself honestly. Be realistic. Only list something you really can change. Don’t say for example “I can stop drinking today.” Instead say “I can wake up at 7:00 a.m. every morning.” Write it down. Set your alarm. Start waking up at 7:00 a.m. every morning. Just make that one thing happen. Keep that one promise. It’s going to make your more powerful. You’re going to get momentum. You can build on one thing, but it has to be something you can actually do. Maybe it’s “I will wash the dishes every night.” Start simple.
Your “Things I cannot change list” is equally important. This is a list of things that you think about. You’re not happy with. They cause you pain. But, you cannot change them. You can’t change the loss of a loved one. You can not change injuries from a car accident, or that fact that the accident happened. Think of things in your past that happened and you cannot change. Recognizing their existence, that they did happen, is the first step to acceptance and eventual forgiveness.
Record Your Results
“And Wisdom to Know the Difference”
You have your lists, but how can you really know if your lists are accurate? How can you build your lists? Start out with that one thing you know you can do, then do it. If it’s not getting up at 7 A.M. every morning maybe it’s something easier, like brushing your teeth every night before bed. Make a record of every time you keep your promise to yourself. Tape it to the bathroom mirror and make a red circle. By the end of the week, you’ll have 7 red connecting circles. By the end of the month, you’ll have 31 circles. Soon enough, you’ll stop making the circles because the thought of not brushing your teeth before bed never enters your mind, it’s now apart of your identity. You’ve kept your promise to yourself and have grown stronger. You’ve changed for the better. Add another thing to your list and keep building momentum. You’re building a new muscle and you need to keep nurturing it, and it’s going to grow exponentially.
Don’t feel bad or stop if in the process you break other promises you’ve made. You can’t do it all at once. But you do have to start somewhere, and when you do and you accomplish your goal something will awaken in you, and you’ll move on to the next thing on your list. While you gain strength in changing the things you can change make sure to read your “Things I Cannot Change” list and ask yourself every day if you can accept whatever it is you read off that list. Ask yourself honestly, and if the answer is no, then say aloud “The answer is no” and put it away for tomorrow. One day the answer may be yes, or the answer may be to move it to the “Things I can Change” list.
Acceptance is a process, but if you don’t have an aim, and you don’t have something to build on, you can’t even start. Make your lists. Take aim at something easy. If you can keep the easy promises you make to yourself, you’re building strength to keep the big promises you’ll eventually keep. This is the foundation of transformation. This is the first part of the Serenity Prayer.