Is Acceptance the Big Answer

Soberlink Recovery Circle

Why Acceptance?

Acceptance is a topic that is frequently discussed in 12-step recovery meetings. Why? As humans, we can definitely say a common single defect of character is what we want to control. Examples include traffic lights. Drivers. Our spouses. Our friends. Our bosses. Our coworkers. Even our addictions. When we cannot control things, we feel a sense of hopelessness. This hopelessness plays into our unsteady willpower and drives us to drink, overeat, use drugs, eat compulsively, etc.


So, is acceptance the key to sobriety?

Let’s explore the history of the acceptance story in the AA Big Book and learn how another 12-step program also uses acceptance as a right ideal for personal inventory in their program (OA). We’ve included prayers for you to use for your own recovery so that you may learn to live a life of forgiveness for the little things.

History of the Story in the AA Big Book

The Acceptance story, written by Dr. Paul Ohliger, first appeared in the 3rd edition of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. The story was titled “Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict”.  The 4th edition changed the name of the story to “Acceptance was the Answer” and moved the story to page number 417. For years, it has been used as a guide for AA members to turn to when they feel out of sorts with the world and themselves.

Many people use the passage below as the Acceptance Prayer:

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life —unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” He forgot to mention that I was the chief critic. I was always able to see the flaw in every person, every situation. And I was always glad to point it out, because I knew you wanted perfection, just as I did. A.A. and acceptance have taught me that there is a bit of good in the worst of us and a bit of bad in the best of us; that we are all children of God and we each have a right to be here. When I complain about me or about you, I am complaining about God’s handiwork. I am saying that I know better than God.
acceptance is the key to sobriety

The author of this story teaches us to focus on ourselves, not others. We can criticize the world, complain, and judge; these do nothing to improve a situation. We ask our Higher Power for help to change ourselves since we cannot change others or our situation. See the prayers below.

Abusive Behaviors

Accepting others does not require us to tolerate or endure abusive actions. This acceptance is more in the spirit of forgiveness of everyday occurrences that get in our way. We work with a therapist, sponsor, or trusted friend for deeper issues of abuse and/or situations that happened to us when we were children. Those situations are not what the author was talking about in this story.

Acceptance in Overeaters Anonymous (OA)

Overeaters Anonymous is another 12-step program for people with compulsive eating that also focuses on acceptance. Acceptance, freedom, and serenity are the basis of recovery by working and living OA’s Twelve Step recovery program. Rozanne S. is the founder of OA. The prayer she wrote is said at each OA meeting. If you are in a questionable situation, Rozanne’s prayer is good to tell someone on the phone to help you do the next right thing.

Rozanne’s Prayer

I put my hand in yours, and together, we can do what we could never do alone. No longer is there a sense of hopelessness, no longer must we each depend upon our own unsteady willpower.

The OA Promise

I put my hand in yours, and together, we can do what we could never do alone. No longer is there a sense of hopelessness, no longer must we each depend upon our own unsteady willpower. We are all together now, reaching out our hands for power and strength greater than ours, and as we join hands, we find love and understanding beyond our wildest dreams.

Additional Prayers for Acceptance

The Serenity Prayer focuses on acceptance. The serenity prayer can help with self-seeking motives and help to move us in the right direction.

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


Third Step Prayer

Say the third step prayer every morning. You can establish a conscious connection with your Higher Power each day and learn about their will.

God, I offer myself to Thee 

To build with me and do with me as Thou wilt. 

Relieve me of the bondage of self, 

that I may better do Thy will. 

Take away my difficulties, 

that victory over them may bear witness 

to those I would help of 

Thy Power, Thy love and 

Thy way of life. 

May I do Thy will always.



acceptance prayer

Acceptance plays a huge part in recovery from any addiction. If we cannot accept a situation, person, place, or thing, we are in trouble. Use these prayers, talk to a sponsor or friend, and learn acceptance. Life is a lot freer living this way.