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Conscience Acceptance

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Before program, I was conflict-averse. (I don’t enjoy conflict now, but before, I used to really run from it—physically, if possible, or emotionally.) Basically, when things got ugly, I’d panic and check out. Because my compulsive disease can also be contradictory, I’d often display the opposite trait, pushing to get my way, in group decisions. If the group went against me, I would acquiesce but then seethe with resentment. Thanks to OA’s tradition of following the group conscience, I have experienced tremendous recovery in this area. I’m so grateful for this shift in my personality.

The first time I had hands-on experience with how the group conscience works was in my home group’s business meeting. A contentious issue came up, and one long-timer strongly disagreed with the proposed change. I was riddled with anxious thoughts. “What if she gets angry and never comes back? What if this particular meeting falls apart because of this issue? I like her. I like this meeting! What in the world should I do about all these feelings in the air? How do I fix this?” Clearly, I was a newbie!

The long-timer accepted the change with grace. She kept coming, the meeting stayed strong, and the world didn’t end. It turns out it wasn’t my job to fix anything, and evidently it was okay to have strong feelings if they were expressed respectfully and the group conscience was accepted.

Later in my recovery, I made a proposal at a home group business meeting that wasn’t adopted. By this time, I had more experience in program and had made a lot of progress working the Steps and following the Traditions. I listened, truly listened, to the fellows who opposed my idea. Guess what? When it came time to make the group conscience decision, I opposed my own idea! Before OA, I never would’ve been so open-minded that I could hear opponents of my idea make their points. I would have been so caught up in pride and self-will that I’d have stuck with my idea till the bitter end.

It’s said in these rooms that the Steps teach us how to keep from killing ourselves and the Traditions teach us how to keep from killing one another. For me, both show me how to be relieved of the bondage of self and receptive to HP’s will for me and my fellows.

— Susan P., Chapel Hill, North Carolina USA

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