“You spot it, you got it.”

— Heard in the rooms

One of the challenges in early recovery is dealing with difficult people. Some addicts are annoying or loud, or play the victim. They’re certainly not working their program the way we think they should. They hold the meeting hostage by ignoring the timekeeper. They come a half hour late and spend the rest of the meeting on their phone. They always take the burning desire even when they don’t really have one. Our best thinking may be to gossip about them, punish them with silent scorn, or leave the meeting for good.

Perhaps the reason we’re so challenged by these people is that we see so much of ourselves in them. Our sponsor sometimes told us, “You spot it, you got it.” We were probably very challenging to others in our early recovery, too. Maybe we still are. In that sense, people who challenge us can be our greatest teachers.

What’s the solution? We’re told to pray for them. At first we resisted. Can we pray for them to just go away? Why would we pray for someone we can’t stand? “No,” our sponsors told us, “we pray for them to have the things we want for ourselves. We pray for compassion, joy, love, and serenity.” Over time, when we encounter challenging behavior in our fellows, we can pause, smile, and think: Why is this bothering me so much? What can I learn from this person? And how can I be of service to them?

Intention: Today I will practice contrary action by praying for someone who challenges me.

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