Have you ever heard of the Serenity Prayer?
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.
This was created by Reinhold Niebuhr; an American theologian and it’s used a lot in 12-step recovery groups. The reason is that the purpose of the serenity prayer is bringing peace and certainty to the hearts and mind of people who need support.
The serenity prayer is about accepting what you can't change (which can be a lot of things), the courage that’s often needed to change those things that are in your control, and what might be the most important part, the wisdom to recognize the difference between the two. Because that can often be the hardest part.
So how does this relate to stress relief?
The serenity prayer helps your mindset when it comes to dealing with stress. Knowing when you can or cannot change something automatically lessens your stress because you won’t waste time hitting your head against brick walls with things that you can’t change (for whatever reason). That will free you up to do those things that will help you to manage your stress before your stress manages you.
Read on for five ways that the serenity prayer can help with stress relief.
Serenity Prayer & Stress
While as I said before, the serenity prayer is usually used by people recovering from a substance abuse problem, it isn't only just for them. It’s for you, me, everybody can benefit from this prayer. Why? Because it consists of timeless truths that challenge you and that you can use for strength and stress relief anytime that you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Acceptance Is Not The Same As Laziness
If you’re devoting a great deal of your attention to the things in life you can’t change, what are you doing to yourself? You’re stressing yourself out because instead of doing something positive or something that you actually can change, you’re spinning your wheels and expending energy uselessly.
Accepting that you can’t change everything doesn't mean you’re lazy or complacent. If we’re being real, it's a leap of faith. Because what will be will be. Knowing that allows you to spend your energy elsewhere.
Courage Is Necessary For Personal Growth
One big challenge that many of us have in life is imagining how we’d like our life to be different and making the changes necessary to live that life. A lot of us have habits that keep us paralyzed in place.
Our negative habits are our worst enemies. It’s important to remember that habits are one of the things you do have the power to change. The serenity prayer reminds us of this. Change is hard and often requires courage. Therefore, courage is necessary for personal growth.
When I was thinking of starting my business, I used the serenity prayer every day. Because changing my mindset from employee to entrepreneur required a lot of courage on my part. The serenity prayer, using positive self-talk and visualization with the help of my vision board all helped keep me on track, beat down those moments of self-doubt and press on no matter what.
There Is Positivity In Adversity
The Serenity Prayer that most of us are familiar with is not the full version. To read the full version, click here. As you saw, in the full version, there’s a line about hardship. In which hardship is described as a pathway to peace. All of us have to deal with hardship in life, and we all have to figure out how to deal with and overcome the obstacles that we face.
Although when we’re going through difficult circumstances it may be stressful and painful, this is often how we grow. It may sound funny, but there can be positivity in adversity. If I hadn’t been laid off from my job at a large corporate entity, I would never have had the chance to pivot and become an entrepreneur. It’s always darkest before the dawn and sometimes the only way that we can manage our stress is by going headfirst into a situation and coming out stronger on the other side.
Surrender = Courage
It may be strange to some, but I believe that it takes courage to have faith and surrender. Unfortunately, surrender is a word that has a lot of negative connotations. We often view it as meaning failure, weakness or resignation. But in reality, particularly when it comes to the Serenity Prayer, is that the act of surrendering your situation to God is ultimately a testament to your faith which requires courage and strength.
Knowing that you’ve put your situation into the hands of your higher power provides you with relief from some of the pressure and stress that you’re dealing with because you know that God’s got your back.
Happiness Can Be Yours
The Serenity Prayer closes with a nod towards happiness. It gives you a recipe to show you one way to stress less and be happier. You live life one day a time; if you live it mindfully you enjoy a single moment at a time. Its message is universal, it's a quiet celebration of perceiving your potential, understanding your limits and recognizing that you can transcend it.
Adversity isn't always about learning something new, sometimes it's about unlearning bad habits that create a pattern of behavior that is standing in your way of happiness. Instead, you can look at adversity as your path to peace. It's your opportunity to gain strength and find growth and peace which allows you to manage stress. It’s about making time to pray the serenity prayer during those times when life throws a curveball.
Let's talk, how do you use the serenity prayer to help you manage your stress? Let me know in the comments section.
Cassandra Martin-Himmons is a trainer, wellness coach and consultant who believes in empowering her clients and providing the tools that they need to make positive changes in their lives to manage their stress and increase their self-care. In her spare time, she enjoys papercrafting, volunteering and travel. Connect with her on Instagram or Linked/In