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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Originally Posted @ http://www.newbridgerecovery.com/newbridge-the-serenity-prayer/

Recited at the beginning of nearly every 12-step meeting, the serenity prayer is perhaps the most well-known prayer related to recovery. Anyone in recovery or associated with recovery has heard the prayer and most know it by heart. But do we know what makes the prayer so popular? Or how it came to be ingrained with recovery? Read and find out how the serenity prayer was created and what lead it to become the landmark prayer of recovery from drugs and alcohol.

The Origins

Contrary to some beliefs, the serenity prayer was not created by Bill Wilson and the early founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. The prayer was written by an unknown theologian and minister named Reinhold Niebuhr. Although the specific publication of the prayer doesn’t appear until the early forties, Reinhold was using the prayer as early as 1934. The prayer came across the desk of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1941 by a member who was captivated by the simple prayer. The early members of A.A were so taken by the prayer that they printed in and passed it around to groups all over the country. The prayer quickly became a staple of Alcoholics Anonymous and is an informal tradition of every meeting. Other 12-step groups quickly began using it as well and has led it to mainstream status.

The Principles Behind the Prayer

What is it about the serenity prayer that resonates with recovering alcoholics and drug addicts? Aside from the short and catchy nature of the prayer, I believe that the principles represented by the prayer deal directly with some of the most basic 12-step ideals. In the prayer we are asking God to give us the serenity to accept the things we can’t change. One of the basic tenets of recovery deals with acceptance of people and situations. We strive to be satisfied with what God gives us and only to focus on ourselves and how we can grow and improve. Many of us have run into stress, disappointment, and frustration when trying to change another person or a situation that is out of our control. It also touches on the importance of tolerance in our lives. When we practice these principles we can experience the blessing of serenity. The next line deals with having the courage and strength to change the things in our life that we can. The principles that stand out to me are willingness and motivation. Sometimes change is uncomfortable or unpredictable. We resist change because we are stuck in our ways or fear the uncertain. We seek the courage to become willing and ready to change our lives. These principles are common in Alcoholics Anonymous and in recovery. Getting sober requires a lot of courage to change our habits, our beliefs, and our environment. The last part of the serenity prayer asks God to help us in differentiating between the things we can and cannot change. It is easy to deceive ourselves into thinking we are doing the right thing or being helpful, when in reality we are trying to change things we cannot. Likewise, it is easy to sit back and not take action on a situation that we should do something about. The serenity prayer asks God that we be given the wisdom to know the difference between the two.

An integral part of recovery groups, the serenity prayer is renowned for its simplicity and profound truths. Surpassing its 80th year of existence, the serenity prayer will continue to be a favorite prayer of people in sobriety.

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Posted by on in Recommended Reading

I recently called a friend to talk with her about a choice I needed to make. I've learned through the program of recovery how valuable perspective beyond my own helps assure I’ll do the next right thing.

However there are times, like this one, when I already know what I want to do yet I go through the motions anyway.

Bad idea.

Sure enough things didn't pan out the way I had wanted. When I ran into my friend, I had to fess up about the result. This is pretty much how that conversation went:

FRIEND:  So how did everything work out?

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

I'm sure that many of you can relate to coincidences like when you learn about a new word, you find that you hear it more, but when in reality it's just something new that has come into your awareness, it was really there all along.  This is of course something that happens to me often, but has certainly been my experience since I have been writing this blog, as it is now always in my awareness to look for opportunities for what to discuss next and they just keep popping into my life!

Working in the addiction field, and the job I have in particular, keeps me very focused but also very isolated.  Working in addiction also creates a sort of bubble, being that my clients are all trying to get out of their active addiction, my co-workers are all in recovery, and the doctors are addictionologists.  I had been in California for four or five years and didn’t realize that I was protecting myself in a way, by not branching out of my comfort zone.  So it wasn’t until about two years ago, that I started to go out to new places and interact with new people that have never struggled with an addiction.  (People that experience temporary stress instead of chronic anxiety are still a wonder to me!)

The benefit, however, of the bubble realization was that all of that prep work that I had been doing (working with a sponsor, doing the steps, going to multiple types of therapy to figure out the core issues as to why I was using inhalants, then working on those core issues) was in preparation for returning to the real world and all its challenges and this time having a more positive impact, on myself and on those around me, and it was time to use them!  The tools I have learned (especially emotional regulation, coping skills, and trigger identification) and the resources I have developed have been crucial in my relapse prevention, because life sure does throw me some curveballs and when I did come out of hiding, I found that some of my wreckage from my past was still there waiting for me.  I am definitely grateful that I was given the opportunity to have a second chance, to get to be the same person, but a better version.  By doing the footwork, it allows me to look at the same situations but have different reactions and therefore different outcomes than I would have in the past.

I feel that in order to be effective in communicating with people who are also struggling and/or looking for solutions or education, I need to write about things that truly affect me emotionally, because if what I'm writing doesn't induce some sort of feelings for me, how could it in someone else?  So full disclosure in the hopes that someone can relate and hopefully allowing me to be of service.

The reason that the ability to have different reactions that produce different and better outcomes is on my mind is due to some events that occurred in my week.  I felt discouraged this week for two reasons, and I feel like they have happened while I have volunteered to write this blog for a reason.  I am a person that falls victim to a certain type of mental trap, where your brain immediately jumps into negative thinking or disaster mode when you hear certain things that are not ideal.  In the treatment facilities I work with, we refer to it as addict brain.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Even when I was in the absolute worst stage of unabashed drinking and irregular, unhealthy eating habits, very little if anything could have pushed me to seek recovery any sooner than I did.

Those who love me worked tirelessly in the effort to convince me I needed help.  Each gesture or suggestion was met with resistance, denial and deflection.  Those caring and compassionate individuals had all but prepared themselves to receive the dreaded phone call I’d finally succumbed to the disease of addiction.

The more people tried to persuade me of my destruction, the more my distance from them widened.  I wasn’t ready to stop.  I liked being able to decide for myself when, where and how much I engaged in what I believed was pure merriment.  I’d perfected my silent rationalization to slip into the haze of too much alcohol with little food. When I was in the state of nothingness, life’s emotional ups and downs didn’t matter anymore. I cherished my ability firmly and sternly control what I put my mental energy into and what was erased. As long as I kept my booze supply up and my weight down, all was well in the world.  And oh boy, did I love the “high” I felt when the deception, manipulation and lies all fell into place.

Until they didn’t.

When I finally found myself sitting across the desk of an intake counselor at a substance abuse treatment center I still was clinging to the belief I could one day drink again and eat as I saw fit.  I vividly remember the woman asking me how much alcohol I drank each day and my response of “oh, not that much” was quickly deflected when she held up my liver count report. I just wasn’t ready to stop believing I could run the show and direct the participants.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

IncreaseWriting a fourth step is an act of courage.  It takes immense bravery to write in detail a complete moral inventory of oneself paying close attention to our part. It is important to detail our resentments, because after doing so we can look at how we were affected and what our part in the resentment was. When we break down resentment we learn that we still carry it because it affects a constant fear that we have.  Perhaps someone bruised our ego or we felt cheated, we change our perspective to see where we were selfish, dishonest, or afraid.  When looking at our fear inventory, we break down each fear and find that most fears are related. Our fears all share the commonality that we are not actually scared of something concrete or material, but of how it will make us feel.  When writing our sex inventory it is important to look at how our behavior affected our relationships.  Without beating ourselves up, we accept responsibility for how we acted. It is the act of catharsis to write how we feel, and an act of courage to look at our part.

The courageous act of putting this all on paper must immediately be followed with an act of integrity.  The catharsis is incomplete if we do not quickly read it out loud, so we can admit to our high-power, another human being, and ourselves, the exact nature of our wrongs.  The power of the inventory lies in this confession.  When we read it out loud, we take the power away from everything we have held on to.  We are finally able to let go of guilt, shame, resentment, and fear.

Recently I went through my steps for the second time with my sponsor, and the difference between my first fourth step and second one was astonishing. After I read my fifth step the first time, I felt like a weight had been lifted.  I felt as though everything that I had carried around for all those years finally dissipated. I was expecting a similarly visceral experience the second time.  They were roughly equally in length, and both thorough.  However, after the second one I wasn’t as emotional or changed. I attribute this to the constant inventory I take.  Since my first fourth step I have tried to tell the truth and tell it faster.  This means doing a tenth step any time I have a resentment, and reaching out when I am struggling.  After some time of doing this I found that I am fundamentally changed.  A weight wasn’t lifted the second time because I no longer let the weight of resentment and pain accumulate.

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