The Serenity Prayer is commonly linked to 12 step programs and is used by many as a coping tool. It says: “God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.”

When we truly internalize these words, it reminds us that we do have control over some things in our lives, but not all things. When we accept this in our lives, we are able to shift our expectations and be more at peace about what is going on in our lives and the areas that are out of our control.

The Serenity Prayer can help anyone- even those who don’t struggle with addiction! Here’s how you can use it to help you cope with a difficult time.

God Grant Me The Serenity…

The word serenity is defined as: “Peace; the absence of mental stress or anxiety; quiet; peace of mind; tranquility; a disposition free from stress or emotion.” This prayer’s intention is about looking for peace and calm in the midst of emotional trouble. As you use this prayer in your own life, be in tune with what you’re asking to be “granted”. You are asking for a calmer spirit through the trial- not for the trial to be taken away.

Accept The Things I Cannot Change…

You are not God, which means you are not all-powerful. Our human nature is to fight to control everything. The irony is that we often lose control when seeking to gain it. There is actually freedom in accepting that you don’t get to control certain things. Realizing this and letting go of the fight to control things is part of what leads to the peace and serenity.

Change The Things I Can…

This part of the prayer is about owning what is your responsibility. There are things you get to control…your reactions, your behaviors, your choices, boundaries you need to set, having a voice about your needs, etc. When it comes to making changes, you are responsible for the changes you need to make, but you’re not able to control changes that others may need to make.

Wisdom to Know The Difference…

There is a big relief when you’re able to discern what you’re responsible for and what someone else is responsible for. This is not easy and it requires taking a step back and looking at the situation with wisdom and not with emotion. Emotions can often skew the reality of a situation and drive us to react without thinking clearly. Tapping into your mind for the wisdom God has given you to assess something can help you get a clearer picture of areas you need to change and control.

Life throws us curve balls all the time. They help us stretch, grow, change, and understand more about life. But hard times should drive us to become more God reliant and less self-sufficient. Using a tool like the Serenity prayer to cope during a hard time can help you do that!

Have you ever used this prayer to help you through a hard time?