Monday, January 19, 2009

Cognitive Serenity Prayer

I’m in Cognitive Therapy mode and I’m facing the depth and consequence of my “schema” or deeply held beliefs. I see the ways I am held prisoner by them, the ways that others in my life are affected by them and the intransigence of these beliefs. There are days—today for example—when my belief in abandonment, defectiveness and emotional deprivation are like fossils or like anchors or like invisible operating systems. Choose your metaphor.

So looking thru the Cognitive Theory lens what if Reinhold Niehbor’s Serenity Prayer meant something like this:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
(The actual situation, the practical solution, the tangible: I have cancer; I lost my job; my husband left me; my retirement investments tanked; my lover died.)

The Courage to change the things I can.
(The internal, the elegant solution: This is not proof that I am bad or being punished; I have skills to apply to this situation; I am loveable even if not by this person at this time; I’m not stupid the economy is hurting; someone may leave or die but that does not mean they are abandoning me.)

And the wisdom to know the difference.
(Do I need to effect a practical solution or work through to an elegant one? Is this something to fix on the outside —like get a new job? Or is this something to change inside—grasp the difference between the grief of losing someone I loved versus the pain of believing that I have been left because that is my fate?

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