Principles Before Personalities

principles over personalities

For any alcoholic or addict newly introduced to the program of recovery, it is incredibly likely to hear the phrase “principles before personalities” at pretty much every meeting we attend. We’ll hear it said a lot in general. But what exactly does it mean? And what is it trying to tell us? Personalities Most of us already understand what a personality is. It’s simply how someone acts and treats others, especially in public. Some people’s personalities are pleasant, charming, and friendly. Other people’s personalities may be unapproachable, gruff, or even a little unlikeable. It’s a harsh reality perhaps, but it’s unlikely that we are going to become friends with every person we meet — and that is totally fine. We naturally gravitate toward certain types of people, and to each their own. But in our disease, it’s also unlikely that we were always tolerant and understanding of people whose personalities…

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How Can I Be Fearless?

facing your fears

In pretty much every action movie ever made, the hero is somebody fearless. Sometimes the world can seem like a pretty scary place, so of course we want to be fearless. It sounds great. To never be scared of anything ever again? Sign me up! But this is real life, not an action movie. The fearlessness of, say, Wolverine isn’t really achievable. The guy is practically immortal, so there’s nothing for him to be afraid of. Do you remember the scene where Indiana Jones had to walk across the invisible bridge? That’s the kind of fearlessness we’re after. Indy was visibly frightened, but he did it anyway. He showed bravery and courage. He took a leap of faith. Sometimes we have to be fearless about taking leaps of faith in our own life, especially when it comes to our recovery and our spiritual growth. There are going to be a…

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What Can the 12-Steps Really Do for Me?


This is a really big question, and it’s got a pretty big answer. We’ll get to that shortly. This big question is probably the most common, and the truth behind the answer has to be experienced firsthand to really understand. But if you’re dying to know what the 12-Steps and the program of recovery can really do for you, look around in a meeting. You will see alcoholics and addicts who have been restored to life, who have had their attitudes and outlooks transformed, and who now enjoy freedom and recovery in a way of life that is ever-increasing in amounts of joy, purpose, and love. For many of us who come to the rooms of recovery with little to no awareness of what goes on in them, the 12-Steps can seem unrelated to our problems. We’re dying of alcoholism and addiction, our lives are in shambles, our relationships are…

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How Can I Get Out of My Rut?

stuck in a rut

Are you feeling like lately you’ve been stuck in a rut? Are you unable to find the energy to break a self-destructive pattern? Maybe you’re just plain old-fashioned bored. Or maybe things have been particularly hard since, say, March of last year? Well, you’re not alone. Everybody feels stuck in a rut at least once in their lives, but usually a lot more often. And these days, most of the country feels stuck in one way or another. It’s human to feel overwhelmed sometimes. Sadly, sometimes we have a bad day that stretches into a few, or we don’t feel our best for a week or longer. It happens to everyone, but that doesn’t mean we have to just lie down and wait for the clouds to pass. The fact that you’re here asking how to break out of your rut is the best first step toward shaking things up….

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Outside Issues: Emotional Health

emotional health

Emotional health is an important issue to address, especially for alcoholics and addicts in recovery. So often, our emotional health gets misplaced or swept up by our mental health and spiritual health practices. It’s a common pattern to focus on our mental and spiritual health in recovery because if we get too far off course in these areas, the effects are usually very noticeable and acute. Skimping on spiritual health drives us closer to relapse and opens the door for the mental obsession to return, so when we feel our spiritual health declining, we can hopefully address it. When our mental health isn’t being taken care of, we can still tell that we’re anxious or depressed, even if we hide it well. But when our emotional health is out of whack, we can often overlook it. We may chalk up the little signs to other causes or even misdiagnose the…

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Resting on Our Laurels

resting on our laurels

This may not be a commonly used phrase anymore, but it still gets a lot of airtime in the rooms of recovery. The words may sound old-fashioned or even silly, but they illuminate an attitude about actions that can be very subversive and potentially very destructive. We may not even be aware that we hold this attitude, and it will undermine us all the more if it goes unseen. This odd phrase means well and is meant to save us from avoidable trouble. So let’s take a closer look at what this phrase can help us understand about life and our recovery. What Does It Mean? To “rest on our laurels” means to relax and rely on our past achievements or success as justification for not achieving new things or new success. It comes from the ancient Greek and Roman societies, where high-ranking and high-achieving people were awarded crowns made…

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Using Hope as a Tool in Treatment

hope in treatment

It is nothing less than heartbreaking to suffer from alcoholism and addiction. Not only for those afflicted directly but all who know and love them. It is a devastating disease that wreaks complete havoc on so many lives. It is precisely this aspect of alcoholism and addiction that calls for nothing less than real and powerful hope in response. This is not a pop psychology, New Age treatment for the disease — it is a working part of the 12-Step foundation of lasting recovery. Without at least the possibility that every aspect of their life can improve by finding and maintaining recovery, alcoholics and addicts may not find enough incentive to do the work that recovery requires. After all, alcohol and substances provide temporary relief of mental, emotional, spiritual, and sometimes physical pain. If there is not a strong chance for healing and transformation, there may not be enough momentum…

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How Can I Have Self-Discipline and Self-Control?


The quest for self-discipline and self-control goes way back in human history. There are answers aplenty, theories, practices, and opinions, with no shortage of things to try to seek resolution. For most of the world, it’s just a matter of choosing which theory seems to suit them best and finding out whether it works or not. For those of us who are alcoholics and addicts, we come out on top in this age-old search. As if we weren’t already the luckiest people on earth, saved from the gates of death and given the tools to live a life beyond our wildest dreams, we now also have some very effective answers for problems that the whole world deals with. Don’t We All Have Some Already? Sure, everybody has a bit of both in different areas of life. But on the whole, most people think they would be happier with significantly more…

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How Do I Find a Higher Power of My Own Understanding?

finding your higher power

That’s quite a big question, isn’t it? Perhaps the big question. Finding and understanding our higher power is a quest that mankind has engaged in since ancient times. But we’re not going to go back that far; we’re going to start right here and now. For alcoholics and addicts, the higher power issue is one of the most controversial, necessary, and misunderstood aspects of our recovery. Despite the magnitude of this question, we do have some helpful ideas and suggestions. What if I Have an Issue With the Higher Power Concept? To put it simply, we all have an issue with the higher power. All alcoholics and addicts have the spiritual malady — it is a symptom of our disease. Even for those of us who have a good relationship with a higher power already, we still suffer from this spiritual sickness. Therefore, all who arrive in the program seeking recovery…

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Will My Life Ever Be Normal Again?

the new normal

This is a common question among those of us who are new to recovery. It’s a legitimate concern and quite the philosophical bombshell. After our alcoholism and addiction and the newness and unfamiliarity with the rooms of recovery, it’s understandable to wonder if life will ever be normal again. Is life ever normal, for anyone? What do we mean when we say normal? There’s a lot of good news to answer this question. But much like life itself, it might not look the way you’d expect. What Does “Normal” Mean Anyway? Everyone has an idea of what normal life looks like for them, but rarely do people share the exact same definition. However, there are some common themes. Most people want a happy relationship with a significant other, a group of friends to share life with, good relationships with their family, a healthy body and mind, a job that they…

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