The Serenity Prayer For Acceptance and Change in Alcohol Recovery
When I was a teenager, I remember going to the AAA meetings and the rehab meetings for my grandmother after she had a serious fall and hit her head real bad. She was in the intensive care and the court mandated that she go to rehab because this was a product of drinking – slipping and falling. While she was there, they had the family day and everything like that and I was a teenager. I remember going to those meetings and I hated it. It was very uncomfortable very weird and I never thought that years later, I would be going to those and my family would be going to them with me.
I remember going to these meetings and I remember how weird it was thinking about the serenity prayer. They talk about their life; they talk about their issues; and out of the blue, they all hold hands and talk about the serenity prayer.
“God, 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.”
My question today, that we’re going to be addressing is –
What’s the nature of this prayer?
Can it help us stay sober?
I’m Marcus from TalkSober.com
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I want to talk to you about the serenity prayer:
How does this help us stay sober?
You got to remember that the AAA recovery culture of today’s modern world started way back in the 1900s. Back in that time, they equated recovery with Christianity and with the Bible – with spiritual stuff like that. They looked at a lot of different prayers.
The serenity prayer came from Reinhold Niebuhr and it was back in the 1870s to the 1950s. This prayer is actually very old but the roots of the prayer are actually older than that and have nothing to do with Christianity.
We have to look at where it really roots from. It roots from ancient Greece with Stoicism. It starts with the Stoics. The Stoics were very big on a topic of taking a look at your life. You take a look at your life and you look at everything as a whole.
Oftentimes in modern culture, everything gets fragmented.
- We got ourselves in our job
- We got ourselves arguing
- We got that thing on Facebook posts
- We have this thing
- We have our addiction
- We have all these things going on in our brain
The Stoics recognized that this was happening as well. These Stoics were smart guys, they came up with a lot of good stuff that has actually helped me today. Helped millions if not billions of people. The Stoics broke things up.
Life is complicated – there’s a lot of things going on.
There’s all this stuff going on so how do we make sense of it?
Let’s separate things into things that I can’t change.
We got to face it as addiction – addicts and alcoholics.
We have to look at it and say
What are the things that we can’t change?
When I was active in my addiction, I was a little bit more narcissistic than I am now. Back then, I thought that I could control everything. I sat there and I said…
“I can control money. I can make people think the way I want. I could make people see my point of view. I could share my ideas down people’s throat. That was the way that I looked at things.”
I said these are the things that I can change. I can change everything.
I can change everything… I thought I could change everything. I was a control freak!
The first person who called me a control freak was my addiction counselor.
I was trying to get sober and she’s like…
“You know what your problem is? You are a control freak.”
And I thought to myself
I’m not a control freak. I’m not one of those people!
But I actually looked at it deeper and I realized that I was.
I was trying to control every aspect of my reality!
What are the things that we cannot change?
- I can’t change other people. The best I could do is ask for their cooperation.
- I can’t change other people.
- I can’t change the weather.
- I can’t change my health.
- I can’t change a lot of these things.
We start to realize that there’s a lot in life that we cannot change.
There’s some things I can change
- I could change my business
- I could change my direction
- I can change the way I look at things
- I can change my perspective
Perspective is the number one thing that keeps me sober today and it got me sober back then. That is because it changes the way I look at things. Instead of having to get inside every argument, having to deal with everything as it comes, I could step back and I could say…
- What are the things I can’t change?
- What are the things I can change?
- Can I have the wisdom to know the difference?
This Is A Key In This Prayer – The Key Is
The Wisdom To Know The Difference!
Back when I was drinking, I thought that I had to change everything. I thought I was in control of everything. A lot of Western thought – a lot of our current culture believes that we need to go out there and we need to deliberately change every single thing. We are the masters of our destiny. We are the creators of our world.
We manifest our thoughts and all this kind of mumbo-jumbo that really doesn’t work.
The current thought process of Western culture is the idea that we control everything. What it’s going to do is – it’s going to control everything until you’re digging yourself out of a ditch because you have to realize what you can and cannot control.
About this word – SERENITY
God grant me the serenity…
You’ve heard this over and over.
What does this mean?
Does this mean we just need to be calm and collect, that we need to chill out?
Or is it a life process?
I believe it’s actually a life process because the funny thing about this prayer is the fact that serenity comes by recognizing what you can’t change and what you can change and knowing the difference.
It is in saying what can I do.
I want you to examine your life because there’s things in your life that’ll make you drink.
I know what it was like – I used to have to drink, I’d say “Today, I’m not going to drink”
Someone would argue with me…
Someone who cut me off in traffic and make me pissed off…
I was living my life as if life happened to me.
As if I was the only person in the world and these things happen to me.
I can’t believe…
…this happened to me
…this person did that to me
As if everyone was revolving around me.
But we have to look at this and we have to say
- Is life really happening to you?
- Is it happening to everyone?
- Are these things that are coming at you, things that you can rise above?
- Things that you can look at and take in stride?
“You know what? The guy on the freeway would have been pissed off if I was there or not. He’s just pissed off. That’s just his baggage. That’s his thing – I can’t change that.
What’s the point of getting argumentative?
What’s the point of stewing about it?”
It’s like the old story – the Zen story.
There’s these two Zen monks and they’re walking along. They come to a river and there’s a lady at the river. She’s afraid to cross. It was a rule of the monks – never to touch a woman.
She was there and the monks saw her.
One of them said “You need to get across the river” picks her up and carries her across the river, sets her down and says “There you go” the lady says “Thank you”.
The two monks go walking off. About an hour later, the monks were walking. The monk that didn’t carry the lady across, turns to the other monk and he says “I just gotta get this off my chest. Do you realize how many monk rules you broke by carrying that lady? Touching that woman and carrying her across the river.”
And he replied “You know, I do realize that but the lady needed help and the funny thing about it is… I left the lady on the other side of the river. You’ve been carrying her the entire time we’ve been walking.”
- What are the things in life that we can’t change – that we carry with us?
- What are these stories that we carry with us?
- What are these irritations?
- What are these things that cause us to not be serene? And not be calm?
- Why are we carrying them with us?
- Why do we continue to keep these things going on?
- Why do we continuously torture ourselves with things that we can’t change?
- Or with the things that we can change?
We’re torturing ourselves over and over, instead of doing something about it.
If we can’t change it, I can’t do anything about it.
If I get sick, I give something that I can’t control.
I can’t do anything about that. I can’t do anything about your response.
There’s people on Youtube and they respond terribly. Actually, I have a channel where I teach marketing and I thought that would be the one with the mean comments but, surprisingly, it’s the addiction one.
People put mean comments all the time and tell me terrible things. I could look at it and I can carry it – sometimes I do…
Sometimes I’m like…
“Man… Maybe that guy’s right…”
Or I could say…
“You know what? Let’s look at the thousand people who are being affected. Let’s look at the thousand people who are being changed.”
I can’t control the thoughts, actions, beliefs, motives, desires, words,
outcomes of other people.
I can’t do that.
All I can do is control what I do.
All I can do is control my response.
When you realize this, you say to yourself…
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change.”
I can’t accept some people in my family and their opinions but I can accept them as a human with their own beliefs, their own ideas. I don’t have to agree with it but I sure as hell can’t change it.
You see all these things
I used to do this, I’d go on Facebook and I argue about politics with people. I’d argue about this and that with people – it’s gotten even worse today.
I used to argue with these people
…as if an argument was ever solved on Facebook or Twitter
…as if people even wanted to hear my opinion
These are the things I can’t change, so why even bother?
Why get all frustrated?
Why risk going out to drink again over some guy’s opinion that you haven’t even met online?
Why deal with something you can’t change?
…like someone gets a promotion at work instead of you
You can’t really change that.
What can you change?
You could do your job better and you could get promoted next time.
That’s something you can do but you can’t change the past.
You can’t change the past, you can’t change what you did in the past.
You can’t change who you were in the past, but I’ll tell you right now…
You’re a different person.
Right now, I’m a different person. I can’t change what happened back then but knowing that I can’t change it makes all the difference because it changes the way that I think. It changes my perspective. It says “I’m going to be okay, right now”
Let’s look at this and let’s see how this can help us stay sober.
You look at the Stoics and they were chill. They were calm and they said
“You know, these things happen.”
They were in a bit of an oppressive government but they looked at it and they said
“How can we change?”
“How can we realize what we can’t change?
How can we live a life that gets results?”
Right now, you could be looking at it and saying…
“Well, I stew about things. I get mad about things. I can’t change.
I get irritated by things. I can’t change.”
You could say to yourself… “Well, that’s alright.”
That’s what we’re going to do. I got to ask you how is that working for you?
If you’re still drinking over every little bump in the road.
If you’re still like that monk carrying the thoughts of what happened
two hours ago or years ago.
- How is that working for you?
- Is your life working?
- Or are you drunk?
Do you have to drink to make it through life?
If you do, it’s time to change your perspective – change your perspective of things – that you cannot change, things you can change.
Get the wisdom to know the difference.
Start to understand it – start to pause and look at everything and say
“I’m going to wait 15 minutes… I’m going to start to think about what I can and cannot change about this situation”
I guarantee things will start to feel a lot better for you the more you do this.
The more you train yourself.
I’d like to thank you for watching this video.
I hope it helps you understand how and why that serenity prayer is used – how it can help us.
It’s not like the be-all, end-all…
But it is something that helps. It will help you calm down.
You say it to yourself and you know, maybe you’ll get some results.
Maybe I’ll start to help you realize what really matters – what’s really important.
That is your sobriety and your sanity, which are hand in hand because if you break your sobriety, you’re probably going to break your sanity too. That’s the reason that I don’t drink today.
You know, I say to myself
“Hey, I could probably handle a beer. It’s been three years – one little Bud Light.
It’s not going to hurt”
But then something goes off in my head and I realize that that’s something I can’t change. I can’t change the fact that one little beer might tweak my brain enough to send me on a spiral – it’s not about the one beer, it’s about the starting of the mental insanity because I can’t control. If you drink, you can’t change or control what happens to your mind. Your body just happens.
There’s a point where you can control a little bit. That’s right now.
But that comes to a point where it affects the way you think…
That’s why I’m an alcoholic. Because alcohol affected the way that I think.
That’s something I can’t change.
That’s something I don’t want to mess with.
That’s something I can’t do. What can I change?
I can change not having the first drink. This is something that you can change. Something you do have power over – is saying
“No. I’m not going to take the first one.”
Now, if you take the first one, I don’t know what’s going to happen.
You might be fine or you might not be fine – is it worth it?
What has your track record shown?
Have you been fine before?
Chances are NO. Otherwise you wouldn’t be watching this video.
I want you to realize… Things you can change Things you can’t change
I want you to start to remember that the serenity comes in knowing this stuff because that’s what we want as addicts.
We don’t want to be locked in this trap.
We don’t want to be dealing with all this stuff – going crazy over our lives.
We want to start to be serene.
And say “I’m okay. I’m okay. It’s going to be okay.”
We want to start to look at that and we want to start to change our lives.
We want to start to notice this because as the prayer says…
God, grant me the serenity… You don’t have to say God…
What can I change?
I can’t change the fact that when I drink, these things happen.
But I can change my response.
I can’t change other people but I can change my response to them.
Change your response
Stop trying to change things you can’t and your life will start to be a lot better.
Thanks again for watching
I’m Marcus from TalkSober.com
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