The Wisdom of Serenity


Guest Writer: Elizabeth Daniels, LMHC

The serenity prayer has weaved its way into our everyday culture.

As humans we are constantly bombarded with stressors, pressure to make choices, and significant interpersonal struggles. It is in this constant state of change, we are forced to admit we don’t have control over very much in this world. We do however, have control of ourselves and the way in which we choose to react to situations that come our way. The serenity prayer is a gentle reminder of how to have a touch of peace surrounding what change we have the power to evoke.

“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”

Application of this mantra, has far reaching implications for life, it is not something limited to individuals struggling with substance abuse.

Serenity to accept the things I cannot change

Serenity is associated with feelings of calmness, peace, quietness, restfulness, tranquility, and stillness. Who could use a little more of this in their life, right? The challenge though is to wholly accept the fact that there are things in life that are out of our control, and there is not a damn thing we can do about it. The past, for example, is something we are unable to change. Therefore there is no sense in ruminating about it, but accepting the things we have/haven’t done and move forward. This is not to say that we are not affected by our past, it is the foundation of who we are, but we are challenged to learn from it and make the changes we can to avoid making the same mistakes.

Courage to change the things I can

Synonyms of courage include: bravery, fearlessness, heart, fortitude, heroism, virtue, and prowess. In the hustle and bustle of a world in which we are constantly connected, it is amazing how meek and powerless we can feel at times. Just because we feel powerless, doesn’t mean we actually lack power. There is comfort in the familiar, and change is downright scary therefore it is easy to feel trapped in our continual patterns of behavior. Insight into our negative patterns allows us to engender the change we do have control over. We cannot change other people, but we can change how we react to others behavior. So, the next time someone cuts you off in traffic, change your reaction! Don’t flip the jerk off because “he deserves it”, DO NOT give him your power! Instead, recognize that you feel angry about the situation, but refuse to remain in that anger and let anger set the tone for the rest of your day.

Wisdom to know the difference

The more and more we practice identifying how we directly affect our world, the easier it becomes to make distinctions of what is in our control. Wisdom and intuition begin to guide us in utilizing our power. Wisdom is a deep understanding and often equated with enlightenment brought upon by age. The sage elder we look to for advice always seems to have an air of peace, maybe it is due to the fact she has learned to recognize the difference of what she has the ability to change, and the serenity to accept those things she cannot.

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