The secret to happiness lies within the Serenity Prayer, in that it helps us to understand that the only thing we are able to control in life is our own thinking. When we can truly grasp and then accept this premise, we gain awareness of our true power within all relationships – personal, business, community, and spiritual.
It is by trying to control anything outside ourselves that we experience frustration and misery, so why do we try?
As children, we take in messages about ourselves, often unspoken or indirect, that form the filter for our adult lives. The most common of these messages are “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not important,” “I’m worthless,” “I’m a failure,” or “I’m a bad person.”
Our caregivers are usually not trying to give us these messages. They often believe that they are acting in a beneficial way, as when a parent tells the child that he needs to bring that “B” up to an “A” on his report card. The parent thinks that he is being encouraging, but the child only hears he’s not good enough, or one of those other negative messages, and so develops a personal template of either not even trying or of trying really hard but never being satisfied. (Think CEOs, actors, and political figures, for example.)
The original messages were created internally from eternal circumstances, but lead to trying to control the external in an attempt to change the internal belief. In so doing, we remain disconnected from others because if we let anyone get too close, they will see that we’re not good enough and reject us. In our attempts to control the people and events around us, we further disconnect ourselves since we cannot be Connected when we are above or below someone else.
Therein lie the seeds of addiction.
The enduring, underlying pain of disconnection can be alleviated through addictive thoughts and behavior. When we obsess about something and compulsively act out in spite of negative consequences -be it drugs, alcohol, shopping, gambling, sexual activity, or food – we discover a relief of pain and can pretend we are in control. It is, of course, an illusion, and when it wears off, we need more and more to get the same effect – relief of pain masquerading as pleasure and covering up that emptiness of the soul.
When we come to the realization that our lives are out of control and that nothing external can change our internal belief system, we can take the first steps to recovery. We can begin to recognize and heal the underlying trauma from childhood, we can make a decision to Connect no matter how scary that might be, and we can choose to live in the moment and give up control to our Higher Power, whatever that may be to each of us.
When we let go of trying to control people, places and things, and accept that all we can really change is our own thoughts about the world around us, we can have true power.
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.
Be In Light,
Dr. Carol L. Clark Author of Addict America: The Lost Connection