Key Suggestions

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OA suggests that personal anonymity be practiced not only when we meet or talk about someone in the outside world but also within our Fellowship. The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, Second Edition clearly discusses the dangers of “setting certain members on pedestals” (p. 166) and suggests we take care not to “mention OA members’ names to impress others, even within the Fellowship” (p. 168). Here are some ideas about putting principles before personalities at meetings:

  • Say a sincere “thank you” to a qualifier or someone whose pitch is great. Avoid discussing their recovery. Instead talk about your own recovery, or something they said that was especially touching to you.
  • Avoid putting individuals on pedestals (“You are a poster child for OA”) or speaking of characteristics the individual used to have and now does not. Speakers, and those who share, should not be worried about what you think or what you’ll say in response. Instead, they’ll remain free to concentrate on whatever they choose to share.
  • Avoid advice-giving.
  • Avoid cross talk (“I wish you had not said that.” “Maybe you need to…”).
  • When referring to what someone said at a different meeting, omit their name.
  • Refrain from naming your sponsor.
  • Share your story, but avoid mentioning or referring to someone in or out of the program by name.

In the Suggested Meeting Format, found at oa.org/document-library/, the following suggestions are mentioned. Consider how we can use these to make our meetings stronger:

“Feedback, cross talk, and advice-giving are discouraged here. Cross talk during an OA meeting is giving advice to others who have already shared, speaking directly to another person rather than to the group, and questioning or interrupting the person speaking or sharing at the time.

“As you share your experience and strength in OA, please also share your hope.

“Please confine your sharing to your experience with the disease of compulsive eating, the solution offered by OA, and your own recovery from the disease, rather than just the events of the day or week. If you are having difficulties, share how you use the program to deal with them.”

Anonymity plays a key role within our meetings.

— Edited and reprinted from Out of the Cocoon newsletter, Milwaukee Area Intergroup, Third Quarter 2018

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