Community Health Systems, Inc.

The Serenity Prayer

Mindful Minute

This blog post was written by Shanleigh Bechard, MS, LPC, NCC, a mental health therapist at the Beloit Area Community Health Center and is currently accepting new clients.

Do you want to have better thinking?

The Serenity Prayer is a great tool to help one learn to let go. By letting go, this allows someone to focus on what is within their control and help alleviate anxiety and stress over what is outside if one’s control.

The Serenity Prayer was originally written by American theologist Reinhold Neibuhr around 1932-1933. It was popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 step programs later. Despite its wide association with those struggling with addiction and in recovery, the Serenity Prayer can be helpful and beneficial to everyone.

This phrase, mantra, or prayer, depending on what you choose to call it, does not have to be spiritual or religious in nature. Simply remove the word “God” if this does not apply to you.

Let us break down the 3 lines of the Prayer:

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

What is Serenity? Serenity is defined as “the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled”. Throughout life, it can be difficult to find serenity when we are facing stressors at work, with loved ones, or even the environment (COVID anyone?).

To work towards gaining a sense of serenity, it’s important to acknowledge what we do have and what we can be thankful for. The second important word to focus on is “accept.” What does it mean to accept? Acceptance does not mean you have to like it or agree with it. It’s purely a state of allowing what is.

Have you ever heard of the phrase “It is what it is”? If someone is being a jerk, it’s accepting that is who they are. You have a choice to be around that person and engage with them, but you cannot change them.

A good reminder is that we cannot change people, places, and things. While we can have an influence over them, what we really can change is ourselves. Which leads us to….

“the Courage to change the things I can”

Courage is defined as “the ability to something that frightens one” or “strength in the face of pain or grief”. Having and acting on courage means that you are doing something that fear, uncertainty, or habit may have prevented you from doing in the past.

Having courage to change what you can also entails learning new habits, skills, or challenging your thoughts. This helps us focus on changing what is within your power.

“the Wisdom to know the difference”

What is Wisdom? Wisdom is defined as “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgement; the quality of being wise.”

We can utilize our own experiences as well as obtain life experience and feedback from others. In what ways can you take action?

What is truth and fact? You can ask yourself “Am I trying to control something that is outside of my circle of control”? Plus, you can also ask others that you trust. Then if it’s outside of your control, do as Elsa says and “let it go”.

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