Monday, December 28, 2009

Principles Above Personalities.

From the ODAT, page 362:

"Everything that happens to me as a person, everything that involves my relations with my group, can be ironed out by applying the Al-Anon principles. This lifts all discussion far above the level of personalities and brings about harmonious solutions."

I have found this to be true in all areas of my life. Recently I received an email from an individual who can be somewhat abrasive, but also capable of great kindness and generosity - a prickly sort of person. Before Al-Anon, I'd not have been able to see past the spiky safety barrier, to the fearful person crouched behind it, longing for friendship and connection, but unable to come out from behind their defenses. I'd have seen the defenses as the person, rather than a symptom of their consuming fear.

Through Al-Anon, I have learned that if I put principles above personalitites, I can accept others as they are, without feeling the need to tell them how to improve. I've long since lost that arrogant belief that the world should march to the beat of my personal drum. I've come to understand that much of what bothers me about other people, had/has more to do with my own shortcomings and inability to accept, than any deficiencies on their part.

Where once I searched for reasons to exclude or reject others, (because they didn't measure up to my arbitrary standards, or had hurt my feelings in some way, deliberate or unintended - I too, was a very prickly person at one time) now I find myself searching for ways to include, to welcome, and to give comfort and affectionate support. I no longer act upon my first reactive response. I allow myself to feel it, try not to judge myself for having had it, but I don't take it as the only possible response. I wait it out. I reconsider. I examine my motives. I ask myself:  Is this kind? Is this necessary? Would I wish to be treated this way?

This seismic change in me, is a direct result of working to put into practise in my life, the Twelve Steps and Traditions, and the wisdom contained therein.

I've learned that when my response is lightning fast negativity, or offense taken, or judgement of the other, that's my character defects at work. When I take a moment or two to let those initial reactions subside, I'm making room for love and acceptance.
God's love. This is a never-ending spring. I can pour it over those with whom I come into daily contact, and get myself soaked in it, in the process. Of such choices, is serenity composed.

"Principles above personalities" has, over the years I've been in 12-Step, evolved from a dimly perceived, vague sort of concept, into a crystal-clear plan for living. I choose it each time I bite back a sharp rejoinder: wave another driver into the space opened in front of me in traffic: take a service committment: make a program call: take a deep breath and say something humorous instead of grumbling: make eye contact with a stranger and smile, instead of hastily averting my gaze.

I'm given dozens of these choices in a day. I pray to see them as opportunities to spread love, respect for others, and connection.


  1. I have to remember this every day. I agree that my character defects can run rampant if I'm not mindful.

  2. Principals above personalities has been one of the greatest gifts I could share with my kids. It has helped all of us love the ducks in our family and let go of the hurts, barbs, anger, pity, and other isms. You put it much better than I. Thank you for sharing your experience.


  3. very nice said. I am grateful for this site

  4. Very well said. How oas out working for you today?

  5. Wow just coming into the understanding of this concept. Really never had it explained in this manner. Old times tend to quote phase but for the new comers the phrase is meaningless unless defined and you did a great job thank you. I will print it out and carry it with me and practice it daily. Love you thanks

  6. i got a lot out of reading this this morning--thank you for sharing your thoughts. by sharing we all really do get better.