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How to Deal with Personality Clashes in Recovery

“Love and tolerance of others is our code.” –Big Book

That quote from the chapter Into Action of the Big Book really says it all when it comes to personality clashes in recovery. There is one other little snip it that gives us some insight into what to do when we have personality clashes in recovery and that is the 12th tradition which states that “Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all of our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.”

I am fully aware that everyone who is sober is not a member of a 12 step fellowship and if they are it might not be the AA fellowship so I am going to try and talk about personality clashes within recovery from a fairly neutral and helpful standpoint. The reason I mentioned the AA snip its though is because they are really great jumping off places for figuring out how to handle personality clashes because they are inevitable unless you are spiritually perfect. In which case, you might still run into this problem. It is almost impossible not to. The point is how you handle it though.

How to Deal with Personality Clashes in Recovery

Personality clashes don’t only happen in recovery. Personality clashes as we all probably know can happen absolutely anywhere. So how do you deal with them? Well, luckily if you are in recovery you are probably in a better spot to know the “how” of it than most people. In recovery we get the benefit of being a little less selfish and hopefully have seen a slow decrease of our own egos.

And that’s exactly what I believe personality clashes in recovery to be:

They aren’t personality clashes; they are two egos trying to one up each other. Personality clashes are all about pride and the idea that we are separate from, different than, better than or less than someone. Personality clashes are usually fueled by fear too. Fear of what the other person thinks, what I think about myself, and what everyone else will think of me. When I realize these things I suddenly become well equipped not with dealing with personality clash so much as my own stuff that causes another person’s personality to rub me wrong the way.

Let me say this quickly also: Personalities are not the definition of a person. Personalities can change on a minute, daily, weekly or yearly basis depending on an individual’s mood etc. Every moment of every day we are internally changing and as that happens our personalities change too. So, clashing with someone based on the trivial and surface area stuff that can change seems silly. And that’s how we deal with personality clashes in recovery.

We never focus on the personality but the fundamental truth that we all know we are made up of the same stuff whatever that you decide to call that “stuff”. We focus on the moral code, the principles inside of us all, the spiritual laws if you will. We focus on patience, love, tolerance, humility, integrity, and spirituality.

That’s all my opinion though. If you are having a real personality clash with someone in recovery realize that you don’t have to be around that person or be best friend with them either. The point is, with someone who you really can’t get along with, to not be harmful. If you find you are really clashing with this person and can’t be helpful then just don’t cause harm. Avoid them if you have to. Sometimes this is the best option. If you want to really deal with personality clashes another practical way of doing so is to try and put yourself in that person’s shoes. Try to see why they are the way they are. Be empathetic.

Whatever the case may be when it comes to personality clashes in recovery don’t cause harm by getting angry or being negative. Stay positive, stay helpful, and remember who you want to be as a person instead of focusing on what you don’t like about who they are.

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