A woman sings a prayer in recovery

“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.”

The Serenity Prayer is said in unison to begin most meetings in recovery. It is found throughout recovery literature, and even on most anniversary coins or key tags celebrating recovery milestones.

This is all for good reason- it is one of the core messages adopted by nearly all recovery fellowships. While we often hear it, we sometimes miss the meaning behind it.

Here we break down the Serenity Prayer and what it means for those of us in recovery.

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change”

The idea of acceptance is one of the most important aspects of recovery. Bill W, the founderA man prays in his recovery of Alcoholics Anonymous, characterized the alcoholic as an extreme case of “self-will run riot”.

Furthermore, he described the primary problem of most alcoholic’s was attempting to control and change their surroundings instead of trying to change themselves.

The core idea of the first part of the Serenity Prayer is that we need to stop trying to change the things in which we cannot in our surroundings, and instead focus on changing ourselves.

For the reality is, we can only control our own attitudes and outlooks on life. Acceptance of this condition is the key to achieving serenity.

“Courage to change the things I can”

The notion of courage in recovery is another indispensable quality we strive for. When we enter the rooms of recovery, most of us are like fish out of water.

The idea of taking an honest look at our actions, and of adopting a set of spiritual principles to better ourselves, is typically not second nature to us. Thus, early recovery is typically described as “uncomfortable”, to put it mildly.

This is exactly why courage is so vitally important for us. We need the courage to begin to take an honest look at ourselves in order to start changing. With courage comes action, for changing ourselves does not just happen by thinking alone.

“and Wisdom to know the difference”

The wisdom to know the difference between the things we can change and the things we must accept to be exactly as they are is one of the unwritten promises given to us through a life of recovery.

While we may think at the surface that the primary gift of recovery is living a life free of drugs and alcohol, it is only just the beginning of the gifts. Once we have achieved the wisdom to know the difference- we have found serenity in life.

Final Note

This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.