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Program Beauties

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Sensitivity to criticism is a character trait of mine that started early on. (It even appeared as a comment on my third grade report card.) I felt criticized at home and developed an oversensitivity to any comment from anyone. I still have a tendency to misperceive comments or questions as criticism and react defensively, with anger and resentment. In OA, I’ve had a safe place to experience this overreaction and to practice healthier responses.

In the rooms, the validity of my recovery has been questioned on two fronts. Because I am an over- and under-eater who came in with minimal weight to lose, some have questioned whether my experience, strength, and hope applies to their situation. I try to deal with this as the Big Book has taught me—to focus on sharing my recovery so I may keep it.

At times, the validity of my recovery has also been challenged because my life is easier than those of many people who are still struggling. I share that my life has been easier because I have been recovering one day at a time for many years and have been able to establish a healthy and balanced life based on a foundation of abstinence, sobriety, and the Steps. “If I can do it, you can too” is my message.

I ask for my HP’s help to remember that when I am being criticized, it is often more about the other person’s challenges than an accurate reflection of my defects of character. I do share my dis-ease and reactions with my closer connections in the Fellowship to make sure that I am not overlooking my part in the matter and to make sure that my defects related to criticism are not clouding my judgement or poisoning my actions. I finish up by asking for Higher Power’s guidance and to “please change me more.”

In my initial draft of this article, I conveniently forgot to address the fact that I am, by nature, a critical person! One of the beauties of program life is the “if you spot it, you got it” phenomenon. It can take me a while, but that is where practicing reflection and honesty out loud will eventually lead me.

Every morning, I ask my HP to release me from my critical and controlling nature. This is one of those defects of character that has greatly diminished in frequency and severity but still rears its ugly head. When I release my own critical tendencies, somehow everyone else seems a lot more tolerant. Or, at a minimum, I have the perspective to take the situation less personally and see it more clearly.

— Anonymous

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