What Is the Serenity Prayer?
You might hear the Serenity Prayer at the end of a 12-step meeting or you may have it hanging as a reminder in your home. The words are simple yet mean a lot. The simple version is:
“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.”
If you are new to recovery, you might not fully understand the meaning behind the words and if you have been in recovery for a while, you have memorized these words and may repeat them many times throughout the day.
Serenity means a state of calm, where you are at peace and not troubled by the world. Serenity is very important in recovery as you learn how to live without drugs or alcohol. A calm mind helps one to focus and to gain clarity. Serenity allows recovering addicts to be at peace and to not be troubled by people, places, or things that can jeopardize growth in recovery.
The serenity to accept the things that cannot be changed is a gentle reminder that you are only responsible for yourself; how you feel and what you think. You are not responsible for others and how they behave and feel. If you understand that you are responsible to yourself only, there is a calm that comes with this.
The courage to change the things you can is empowering and can help you understand that you can change things about yourself that you do not like. Maybe there were people that you hurt because of your substance abuse; however, you can find the courage to change this. Whatever you want to change, you are asking for the courage to find the strength to change.
The wisdom to know the difference involves knowing what you can change and what you cannot change. In recovery, you may feel responsible for others or the negative feelings associated with substance abuse. Wisdom comes from experience, knowledge, and good judgment. With sustained recovery, you will find the wisdom and be able to draw upon knowledge and good judgment to know the difference between what can be changed and what cannot be changed.
Recovery allows us to reflect on past mistakes and where we can make changes for the better. The serenity prayer reflects this in an understanding that there are things we can change and things we cannot and you can know the difference.