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Principles before Personalities… Even in Sober Living

 

“Principles before personalities” is one of those sayings that you hear at every Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting. A lot of the times, I hear it and forget it as soon as the meeting closes.  I just return to life and all of the stresses that it carries. However, we are encouraged to practice these principles in all of our affairs – and I have found this a difficult principle to implement, especially in the chaotic environment of a sober living.

When I think of the principles that I’m supposed to be putting before personalities, I find patience, open-mindedness, and honesty at the top of the list. After all, these are a few of the very important spiritual principles that help to define the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. These are all well and good when I’m in a meeting, and I can remind myself that everyone there is just as sick as I am – cause let’s face it, people don’t go to AA for fun. I can find it in my heart to be patient and open-minded with ideas that I’d otherwise discard immediately while I’m in these rooms; I can bring myself to be honest about hard times and good times alike. However, after the Serenity Prayer is said, it seems that my mind calls all bets off with instituting these spiritual principles in my everyday life.

I have had more and more instances lately where I’ve had to use the “principles before personalities” direction in order to maintain a sense of calm. I currently live at a sober living, and these environments are nothing if not chaotic. People come in from all walks of life, and with different values and beliefs. The personalities vary greatly as well, and in this way, it can be difficult to have a sense of community and peace. People have very strong opinions and are often without the tools to effectively communicate. There can be a lot of tension, cliques, and outbursts. In order to deal with these things effectively and not regress to an unhealthy emotional state, I’ve found that I have to place principles before personalities.

When I put honesty, patience, and open-mindedness before whether or not I like a person’s personality, I can co-exist with them more peacefully. When I instead put my personal feelings about a person’s viewpoint or personality, I find that I am more irritable, restless, and discontent. By placing these principles before specific personalities, I allow others the same room to grow and explore that I need. This doesn’t mean that I have to like them or befriend them, just that I can be respectful and have a civil relationship. After all, living in a sober living with high tension can get very uncomfortable, very quickly.

I don’t perfectly apply principles before personalities into my everyday life, but when I do apply it in my living situation, life is much calmer than it may have been otherwise. Sober living by nature is a time of change, and change invites chaos, fear, and confusion. By practicing placing principles before personalities, I keep myself sane and help to lower friction in a pretty unpredictable environment. It isn’t easy, but it helps me and those around me – and that is the real point of practicing these principles.

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A native New Yorker, Bre loves the California scene and writing for Treatment4Addiction. She has been writing content for T4A for five months, and loves to learn new things, form opinions, and send them out to the world. Her interests include dance, singing, acting, talking with friends, being a daughter, and being the best big sister she can to her 16 year old brother. After attending ASU for a few months, she is interested in taking cosmetology classes and exploring her options. She looks forward to learning all she can, and doing something positive with that knowledge and experience.

Filed under: Life, Recovery · Tags: AA, Alcoholics Anonymous, principles before personalities, sober living