Home Steps Soft Guidance

Soft Guidance

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In The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, Second Edition, it states that low self-esteem is “not at all the same as humility. In fact, a poor self-image keeps us in bondage to self and thus makes it impossible for us to find true humility” (p. 51). The next paragraph goes on to describe how compulsive eating caused us to be obsessed with ourselves and our status. “Humiliated by our inability to control our intake of food and by the devastating consequences of compulsive eating behaviors, we fought for self-esteem with all our might” (p. 52). It says that we craved recognition and getting our own way, so tried either secretly or openly to place ourselves above others—just to disprove our feelings of inadequacy.

I wrote a big red WOW next to this section when I read it the first time. When I did an extended version of Step Four, there was no more hiding the fact that I did feel inadequate. I’d grown up in a home that lacked financially and also lacked comfort, love, and positivity. I’d never learned that I was enough: good enough, smart enough, capable enough, pretty enough—you name it. I now see that I didn’t develop emotionally past the age of 7 or 8, which completely coincides with a childhood trauma. Instead, I developed other defense mechanisms: hypochondria, OCD tendencies, body dysmorphia, and disordered eating. I couldn’t process and move through my feelings, so I learned to eat them instead. I’d also withhold food whenever I felt I needed to punish myself. I just knew I was completely inadequate, and found through Step work that I’d spent my life desperately needing and trying to prove that I wasn’t.

The next pages in the Twelve and Twelve, Second Edition describe the miracle of humility. By looking our defects in the eye, and through the guidance of HP, acceptance comes. We are all flawed. But if I’m willing to let go of my defects and ask for it to be so, miracles happen. For myself, I came to see that I wasn’t any worse than my fellow man. I wasn’t any better. We all struggle; we all have fears and dreams and baggage. For whatever reason, I’d held onto icky stuff from my past, but OA reminded me that whenever I was ready, I could let it go.

I don’t have anything to prove to anyone, and my HP wants me to thrive, and grow, and be all I was created to be. OA helps me become more and more self-actualized, and I can’t express enough the gratitude I feel for that. Although I do have the tendency to reach for food and stuff my feelings—and may always have that tendency—I now know I don’t have to. I don’t have to follow through with any hurtful impulse. There are Tools and Steps and a beautiful Fellowship—they all are the soft guidance and voice of my HP, leading me to be the best version of me that I can be.  Sending you all love and warm wishes. Thanks for letting me share.

— Jessica G., Rosenberg, Texas USA

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