In the rooms of recovery, the serenity prayer connects people to themselves and each other at the beginning and ending of a meeting. However, the universality of the serenity prayer helps to provide a template for how to mindfully pause throughout the day. There is a designated space for the serenity prayer while in recovery meetings, but ultimately, it can be recited and upheld in life too.
To begin implementing the serenity prayer; it is helpful to have the words. The short prayer is easy to memorize, and just when you think you may have forgotten, it can surface in the most difficult moments.
“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”
Even though the prayer calls on God, many people replace God with a word that feels most comfortable to them like; Universe, Higher Power, or Goddess. The point is not to get hung up on the details but to offer yourself the gift of pause in real time.
The prayer can help develop a built-in pause during moments when overwhelm floods your body. Catching yourself before you say something you may regret, making a big decision for yourself or others, and quelling nerves before a presentation or public speaking engagement can all be worth a pause.
Once the serenity prayer becomes second nature, the pauses won’t feel so lonely. It won’t feel like everything is on your shoulders. Inviting a pause also welcomes a power greater than yourself to help ease some of the tension. With a person’s willingness, these are moments where courage can lead to change.
The more willing we are to pause, the more we can accept that the need for pause won’t ever go away. There will always be things that cannot be controlled by a person. Nothing external will ever make us happy in the long-run. Sometimes, outside circumstances can provide momentary comfort; however, change happens within ourselves and often takes courage.
It may be saying no when our people pleasing tendencies tell us to say yes. Or, it can be a leap of faith when our fear tells us no. Without a pause, it is difficult to discern where the courage starts and ends within ourselves.
The wisdom to see the difference between what we can and cannot control is at the heart of the serenity prayer. What a relief to know we don’t have to control things that can’t be controlled anyway, and what an invitation to control things inside ourselves that felt out of control.
During the time of COVID, wrestling with control of others and ourselves can seem confusing because there is already uncertainty. A thing we cannot change is COVID. A thing we can have the courage to change is starting the serenity prayer in our daily lives. The wisdom is to know the difference between acceptance and courage.
The serenity prayer can be as simple as a pause and has the power to be a way of life. It is okay to recognize that humans can’t control everything, but we can control our reactions and routines. Dedicating a pause to the serenity prayer today could be the strength you need to make a change.
If you are struggling with acceptance and finding your pause, talking with a counselor can also help.
Our therapists work with teens, adults, families and parents and provide help for depression, anxiety treatment, ADHD treatment, low self-esteem, support around healthy eating and for disordered eating, thoughts of suicide, substance abuse counseling, support during life transitions and help for teens who abuse marijuana.