The powerful decision making process of The-Serenity-Prayer helps us apply sobriety’s actions of moderation and abstinence toward the drinking of alcohol or the intake of other substances.
But not only with alcohol or drugs, we can also apply the decision making process to our use of video games, porn, DVDs, books, or any of our other addictive behaviors or obsessive compulsions, including food, gambling, religion, sex and relationship addictions.
Can The Serenity Prayer also help us with other sobriety affirmation issues? Probably so. Especially when even little hints can prompt subconscious decisions.
We know little addictive hints, the “priming” of our behavioral decisions, can cause a slip breaking our commitment to sobriety and lead to a relapse.
Decision “priming” is sights, smells, or sounds which lead to action we don’t think about in a conscious way.
Perhaps this is why the Roman Catholics have the saying, "Avoid the near occasions of sin.”
Temptation is often stimulated by the sights and sounds of our known addictive pleasures. Food and drink advertising people certainly know and understand that idea.
In the case of addiction-recovery, our sobriety is at risk.
Let me relate a “priming” experiment at a major university.
College students on their way to a laboratory class “accidentally” bump into a lab person holding textbooks, a clipboard, and either a cup of hot or iced coffee. The students are asked for a hand with the cup, by the lab person.
Those students who helped with an iced coffee later rated a hypothetical person, they read about, as being much colder, less social and more selfish than did students who had only momentarily held a cup of hot coffee.
It is emotional “priming.” We all are susceptible. Priming helps us realize how the addiction disease process works.
Also, for example, a faint tang of cleaning liquid in the air and we tidy up more thoroughly.
The Serenity Prayer asks to know the difference.
Think of the risk to our addiction-recovery and sobriety commitment when we visit our old addiction haunts. We put ourselves in harm’s way. We will certainly need all of our prayers for Addiction Recovery.
Lets further explore The-Serenity-Prayer in relation to other “priming” examples.
We become more competitive if there’s a briefcase in sight. More cooperative if we glimpse words like “dependable” and “support.”
And all this without our being consciously aware of the change, or what prompted it. Our reflection on The-Serenity-Prayer offers us a moment of peace to consider or reconsider our response.
But, “priming” is not some form of personal hypnotism or subliminal seduction. Rather it is a demonstration of how everyday sights, sounds and smells can selectively activate goals or motives that we already have and without our conscious input.
A colleague of mine wrote her doctorial dissertation on “Anchoring effects In Clinical Judgment.”
If a therapist sees three alcoholic patients in a row, the fourth person will seem to exhibit symptoms of alcoholism. Therapist must realize this tendency, pause, and guard against it.
We too must use the process and guard against the slippery slope of craving former habits, activities, and haunts, the places and things of addiction temptation.
New studies reveal a subconscious brain/mind that is far more active, purposeful and Independent than previously known. We would do well to consciously use The-Serenity-Prayer as a process for clarifying our actions.
Goals…whether to eat, mate, or devour an iced coffee…are like neural software programs that can be run only one at a time. Our non-conscious is perfectly capable of running its program of choice.
We get the non-conscious made decision about a half a second later in our conscious mind.
To not act on a subconscious suggestion/decision we have to override the non-conscious, the subconscious decision by a conscious deliberative act. The-Serenity-Prayer process should be our clearing house.
We would do well to run our decisions through this process.
Lets consider how personal activities affect our Sobriety. Wow, for some of us going with the guys to the old drinking and poker group is like putting a loaded gun to our head.
The give and take between our unconscious choices and our conscious aims can help explain some mystifying realities of our behavior. Diet decisions are a good example of our vacillations.
Such as how we can be generous one moment and petty the next. Or rude when we think we are exuding charm. It is almost like being drunk when we think we are sober.
We need The-Serenity-Prayer decision process to really know the difference.
Of course, we couldn’t drive to the store if it was conscious all the way. Try it. We need our subconscious decision making mechanisms. We also need our prayers and affirmations for Sobriety and Serenity.
Our behavioral guidance systems are continuously furnishing suggestions throughout the day about what to do next and our brains are considering and often acting on these suggestions, all before conscious awareness.
Sometimes these goals are in line with our conscious intentions and purposes, sometimes they are not. The-Serenity-Prayer needs to be the real guide to our addiction-recovery actions.
If Sobriety is Living Sober then we must keep from putting ourselves in harm’s way, that is in temptation’s wake. We must reaffirm our Addiction-Recovery Affirmations. Abstinence is our way.
Most importantly we must remember: Once activated an unconscious goal persists with the same determination that is evident in our conscious pursuits.
Primed to be helpful, we are. Primed to be aggressive, we are.
We must embed The-Serenity-Prayer and our other Sobriety Tools for our recovery deep into our sub-conscious. We do this through repetition. Affirmations are an example.
Help another person who is struggling with an alcohol or other addiction problem. Share similarities. Share uniqueness. Addiction recovery is not easy. It is often a slow process. We all can get discouraged.
Each of us must recognize the process and with help, we’ll make it. We must be willing to change, to learn from the recovery successes of others.
Sharing is a sign of freedom. Sharing healing resources is a way to let go and help others realize recovery opportunities. Your personal experience, knowledge and inspiration is something only you can share.
With sharing The-Serenity-Prayer our sobriety becomes self “priming.“ Sharing our Serenity Prayer stories with other can help make us and others free.