Relapse Prevention:
The Serenity Prayer

Dual Recovery Anonymous™ is an independent, nonprofessional, Twelve Step, self-help membership organization for people with a dual diagnosis.

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The Serenity Prayer Tips

A favorite among Twelve Steppers

Though this is a prayer not a slogan it is so useful we included it here.

“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.”

There are two types of problems:

  1. Those we have the power to do something about
  2. Those that we don’t

It helps in our recovery to be able to understand the difference. Rather then fretting about the weather, we might as well simply accept it. No amount of worrying or thinking about it will change it. Why waste energy worrying about something we have no power to control? Once we accept that there are people, places, and things we can not change we can move on to those areas were our efforts and energy can improve the situation or fix a problem. This acceptance offers us a measure of additional serenity.

When we seek the courage to change the things we can, we are seeking that quality within ourselves and our store of recovery tools that will enable us to deal with the problems and realities of life without reliance on drugs or alcohol.

We no longer have to react without thinking to people that push our buttons or things that once frustrated us. We can ask our Higher Power for Good Orderly Direction (wisdom). We can call a recovering friend for feedback. We can count to ten or go for a walk and wait for our emotions to cool off. We can talk about it in a meeting or with our sponsor. Today, we can choose to put our dual recovery first. Today we have choices.

A bit of history
The Serenity Prayer came to the attention of an early A.A. member who spotted a caption in a New York Herald Tribune obituary that read:

“God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
courage to change the things we can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”

He liked it so much, he brought it to Bill W., the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Bill and the staff read the prayer and felt that it particularly suited the needs of AA. Everyone in A.A.’s office was struck by the power and wisdom contained in the prayer’s thoughts. “Never had we seen so much A.A. in so few words,” Bill wrote. Someone suggested that the prayer be printed on a small, wallet-sized card, to be included in every piece of outgoing mail. Cards were printed and passed around. Thus the simple little prayer became an integral part of the AA movement.

Despite years of research by numerous individuals, the exact origin of the prayer is shrouded in time and mystery. Moreover, every time a researcher appears to uncover the definitive source, another one crops up to refute the claim. Reinhold Niebuhr is often credited with writing the Serenity Prayer. Dr. Niebuhr suggesting that the prayer may have been “spooking around” for centuries. Some have accredited Friedrich Oetinger, an 18th century theologian. Some believe its roots go back as far as Boethius, a Roman philosopher, 480-524 A.D. Needles to say it is a timeless bit of spiritual wisdom filled with practical application for daily living.

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