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Autonomous Solution

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Tradition Four: Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or OA as a whole.


I worked Step Four in order to take responsibility for my past actions. No one else could do it for me; no one else could even really tell me how to do it. Others could guide me, but I had to do the work myself in the manner that was best for me. I had to take care not to hurt anyone else and follow program guidelines to the best of my ability.

I ended up working the Fourth Step three times in OA. None were identical. One was simply my life story. One was a detailed question-and-answer format. One dealt with one particular part of my life that for too long had continued to plague me. Each format was right for me at the time. I didn’t hurt anyone else or OA as a whole by doing it “my” way. In the spirit of Tradition Four, that was me exercising my personal autonomy.

The same Tradition Four Principle is at work in my OA home group, New Beginnings OA-HOW. Even though our OA-HOW format and food plan are specified in particular ways, we are not hurting anyone else or OA as a whole by working our program this way. We are a registered OA group and enjoy the rights and responsibilities of every other OA group. Yet, we share a particular problem for which the OA-HOW format has a solution; for us, it is the only solution. We need structure, and it seems we need more than most. That’s okay. At least we have learned this about ourselves and are now able to find a solution.

I am so grateful that OA’s Fourth Tradition allows me to have an OA home group that meets my needs. I guess we are practicing diversity as well as autonomy!

— Edited and reprinted from Looking Up newsletter, Tri-County Intergroup, Fort Worth, Texas, April 2018

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