What Are We Powerless Over?

                                Serenity Prayer


Well, just about everything! Really, we only can shape our inner attitudes and what we choose to do in each moment. To cultivate healthy thinking habits explore Bob’s Story: Learning Healthy Mental Skills and the choices that we make in each moment to help keep ourselves in balance.

This is quite priceless. Just as I was posting this material to the Website server, the server went down and I got the following message that either the computer program or server had malfunctioned!

I wrote the following list in 1985 when I was feeling overwhelmed by all of life (and again I contemplated these truths again when many sad things happened in my life recently):

What am I powerless over:

  • Things: Dogs barking and “dog DO”, birds chirping loudly at 4 in the morning and bird droppings, computers and technological gadgets, appliances, cars, stereos, radios, TVs, hot water heaters, clothes to buy and iron and keep up. EVERYTHING–that BREAKS DOWN, falls apart, and requires attention (which is really everything).

  • The world: The seasons, sun, weather, humanity’s misuse of LOTS of things, wars and the military, starvation, sickness, animals, plants, insects, moles, pollution, the seas and the rivers, dry land and earthquakes, mountains, and ALL people.

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  • Being human: Having feelings. Family members’ diseased conditions and my distress over it (I have felt deep frustration, anxiety, fear, loneliness, sadness, and found myself crying over sick family members’ illnesses. I later learned how to set better limits for myself when caring for others. Explore: Coping With Caregiving.) Having a body, a mind, and a spirit, limitations, needs. MANY human beings are incredibly kind and generous! At the same time, many of them may be doing things that are harmful to themselves or others, things that I can’t control. Things like: smoking, drinking alcohol, taking drugs, overeating, working too hard…

  • Sexuality: Being a man or a woman, sexual organs and function, need for intimacy, emotional cycles, body changes, genetics, changes in appearance and metabolism.

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  • Self-esteem and ego: Old tapes or total self-dislike, mood swings, personality, seriousness, not forgiving myself, compulsive behaviors. It seems SO easy to adopt harmful patterns and habits, and SO HARD to change or transform them.

  • Things I should do: Be thoughtful, kind, loving, considerate to all people, use gifts and talents to help people, NOT be selfish; be happy, joyous, and free; be hard-working and contribute to society.

  • People: My mother, father, brother, grandmother, friends, co-workers–people in my life I REALLY care for–and can’t make it “all better” for them.


  • Housework: Dirty dishes, sinks, counters, messes from hobbies, old family possessions, junk mail, flooding basements, broken windows, furnaces (and filters!), refrigerators, stoves, and dirty ovens.


  • Responsibilities of life: SELF–taking care of body and mind, support groups to deal with compulsions; WORK AND CAREER–updating knowledge, planning and organizing, meeting deadlines; FAMILY–concerned, helpful, involved; OTHER RELATIONSHIPS– work, society, Creator, friends; paying bills, concern for the world and needs of spreading altruistic activities. Really all of life is being in relationship with self and countless others.

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  • Money: Loans to family and friends, worldwide ministries, giving to poor or needy people, world system of finance, and taxes.

  • Repetitive tasks: Eating, shopping, laundry, cleaning house, work, mowing lawns, weeding, edging, brushing our teeth and using dental floss, taking baths, washing hair and putting on make up.

  • God or Creator: He is IN CHARGE, I’m not! The world is already set up and I just dropped in to visit! I then am born into a certain family situation which provides many special blessings and challenges. I’m supposed to have FAITH–our Creator demands everything of us and then apparently refuses to talk directly to us (like out of a burning bush, as with Moses! I’ve always wanted a burning-bush sign!). There IS a God and I’m NOT it!

  • Time: It marches on…I can’t do everything all-at-once, nor everything I seem to need to do; the past and the future; I only have…right now.

  • Society: Spending so much on war, and so little on social needs; its material focus and “beautiful body” focus; society equating what you DO is who you ARE.


How about for you? What do you feel you are powerless over? How will you respond to the events in your life over which you have no control?

Serenity Prayer

Gander at:


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