Home How OA Changed My Life Teddy Bear Self-Esteem

Teddy Bear Self-Esteem

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My self-esteem was low when I first set foot in these rooms of recovery. I was addicted to feeling bad about myself. I set impossible standards and felt shame every time I fell short of my ideal. When I did an impressive job, I wondered why it wasn’t an excellent job. When I did an excellent job, I berated myself because it wasn’t a world record. I now recognize that critical voice as my disease talking.

I can more easily accept others as human and imperfect than I can accept my own fallibility. Fortunately, self-acceptance is a skill that can be learned. I have always been a good learner, so it’s simply a matter of time until I am included in the human race, in my own mind.

I have a teddy bear who acts as my inner child. I hold my bear and tell her how much I love her. I assure her that she could never do or say anything that would cause me to stop loving her. I tell her I’m grateful she has helped me get through difficult times. This has been enormously helpful in improving my self-esteem.

For me, self-acceptance looks like contentment and serenity. I hope this will become automatic someday. For now, when I notice the disease voice, I shift my attention to my Higher Power. Each day I pray, asking my HP to forgive me for all my shortcomings and to help me forgive others and myself. I ask HP to release me from the bondage of self.

I find it easier to see myself as a child learning to walk instead of a hopeless klutz or a bad child who deliberately falls down to call attention to herself. I put compassion for others and myself into practice each day.

I finally accepted I was a compulsive eater after two years of surrendering to the food. I’d made food my Higher Power. I was so miserable I planned to jump off a bridge and end it all. I called my mom to tell her my plan and assure her she was not to blame. I said, “I know something is wrong with me; I can’t cope with life like normal people do.”

Mom suggested I go to my first OA meeting and said if I felt suicidal after, I could jump off the bridge then. This had to be divine intervention. How many moms would have had the presence of mind to say that? And the meeting was that very evening!

When someone read “How It Works” from the Big Book at that meeting, I realized I had come home. I saw I was a compulsive eater and needed help. This was the first time I’d heard of the disease concept. It took years of working the Twelve Steps before I could admit this at the deepest level of my soul and accept the gift of abstinence HP had been offering me all along. Today, I lead a life of sane and happy usefulness. What could be better than that?

— Nancy S., Goldsboro, North Carolina USA

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