Home Steps Self-Subtraction


2 min read

In a meeting many years ago, people with strong long-term recovery shared on the topic of placing Principles before personalities. They said they had learned, over the years, to focus on what was shared rather than who was sharing it. This reminds me of a slogan my spiritual teacher shared with me: “Peace equals this moment minus my opinion of it.”

One of the ways I attempt to practice this suggestion is by closing my eyes when listening to a share in a meeting. I listen for the feeling behind the share and the recovery treasures within the share. I don’t necessarily agree with every share I hear, but by placing Principles before personalities, I can listen to the content with a beginner’s mind, as if I am new to recovery. And nine times out of ten, I find something I can relate to, or take home and try, or think about, including things I had not experienced before hearing the share. I wonder if this is how longtimers keep recovery fresh, by listening with an open mind, rather than a critical, judgmental mind.

I also find it much more unifying to look for ways that I connect with other members, ways in which I am similar to other members, and ways I can find likeness with members who sometimes try my patience.

OA and the Twelve Steps are teaching me how to practice the Principles, one day at a time, by listening to what is shared minus my opinion of it!

— Melissa H., Nashville, Tennessee USA

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