Serenity Prayer Backwards


 since no one else cares!


POST: Cognitive Distortions  (CDs) 

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

The Al-Anon meetings Opening says:
“….. Our thinking becomes distorted by trying to force solutions, & we become irritable & unreasonable without knowing it.”
All ACoAs grow up with a variety of cognitive distortions (CDs), which now keep us confused & even somewhat paralyzed. Instead of seeing thru rose-colored glasses, CDs are our negative filters/ lenses, used to view our sense of self & our abilities, mirroring past painful events & too many losses.

One of these CDs is the “Illusion of Control” fallacy
the mistaken belief that you can change things you really can’t (opposite of Step 1). It comes in 2 forms, & sadly, most unrecovered ACoAs have both:

a. Being externally controlled, we feel like helpless victims of fate, & so tend to blame others for our mistakes & failures, such as the boss causing our poor work performance.

: “I can’t help it if the quality of the work isn’t my best. I was under so much pressure to get it done fast, & my boss demanded I work overtime on it.”

b. The internally controlled part of the fallacy has us blaming ourselves for events that are truly out of our control. 
We assume responsibility for the pain or happiness of everyone around us (instead of ourselves!) & then for fixing it.
EXP: “Why are you upset – was it something I said? What can I do to fix it?
(Posts: Secretly Angry-Nice people)

ACoAs’ damaged logic 🙃 gets the Serenity Prayer backwards:
1. Healthy VERSION  :
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
= the courage to change the things I can
= & the wisdom to know the difference”

2. UNHEALTHY Version – ACoA compulsive act on a totally narcissistic reverse rendering of the prayer:
“I grant myself the ability to do the impossible,
= the determination to not change the things I can,
= & the refusal to notice the distortion!”

For many of us it’s unconscious & automatic, but the first line is arrogant & self-defeating, since it’s unrealistic & untrue!
Ironically, the other 2 lines are ways to obey Toxic Rules such as:
“Do not see & get away from abuse”
“Whitewash (minimize, cover over) other people’s bad behavior”
“You always have to struggle but never get there”
“Don’t stand up for your rights”……

If we’re serious about Recovery it’s imperative to become fully aware of these pervasive distortions. Only then do we have the option to decide which of the 2 versions we want to live by.

2 choicesCorrection
• Don’t under-estimate the degree of control you do have over your own actions. You’re no longer a perpetual victim, as in childhood, no longer helpless or powerless. Check out the many alternatives available to you & take responsibility for your action.
• Don’t over-estimate your responsibility for the happiness or pain of others. Learn how much power & influence you really do have or don’t have over yourself & others.
(Posts: “How ACoAs Abandon others“)

NEXT: ACTIONS – healthy opposites (#1)

2 thoughts on “Serenity Prayer Backwards

  1. I just love this. It is funny that I have been saying lately that I have to do something all by myself because no one else can….I’ve said this a few times to myself. I can recognise it now as a cognitive distortion. However, there has been some good in it, in that I have also been saying to myself that I will change what I can and the recognition that there are things at the moment that I cannot change. It is as if this has been given to me when I most need it and have the time to be able to digest it and put it into practice.


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