Compassionate Self Awareness

OASV Blog Editor

July 26, 2023

Compassionate Self Awareness

“I can develop a non-judgmental awareness of myself, accept what I discover, and be fully willing to change. But I lack the power to heal myself. Only my Higher Power can do that.” Courage to Change, Jan. 31.

I love the recovery I have found in Overeaters Anonymous. In the 11 months I’ve been in the program (51-pound weight loss), I feel I’m getting to know myself for the first time. I’m currently working steps six and seven and, with the help of my Higher Power, slowly but surely developing a non-judgmental awareness of myself and my character defects. I’ve certainly gained self-awareness through step work over the years in other programs, but the awareness was frequently a judgmental one. I could only seem to see the flaws and the defects, and the inner critic was always pointing out that I could do better, that I was not doing enough, that I was doing it wrong, and that I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t able to allow myself to be human or to just be. I lacked self-compassion and self-love.

By writing an inventory and working on step six, I looked at my character defects (which I realized were really survival traits) and saw how each of them had served a purpose in getting me where I am today. I then looked at what they were doing “to me” and how they no longer served me. I started to look at them through a lens of neutrality instead of a magnifying glass of judgment. Doing so gives me the freedom to look at the parts of myself that I was always so afraid of or deemed unacceptable. When I deem a quality to be unacceptable, I become unwilling to bring it into the light of my Higher Power, and yet healing only comes through that light.

Now, instead of meeting myself with hostility when I behave in a way I’d rather not, I am trying to meet myself with compassion and ask questions about why I am behaving that way. I can get curious instead of getting judgmental. I can examine how I am feeling — afraid, hurt, anxious? I am letting go of the “should;” you shouldn’t be anxious to present in front of the CEO; you shouldn’t get short with your husband; you shouldn’t get nervous when you have to lead a team of people at work or do something you’ve never done before.

Only when I accept what is there (even if I don’t like it) and have a willingness to change can I ask for my Higher Power’s help to be different. And then I remember that my defects get removed on my Higher Power’s time. I remember that the whole point of having my defects removed is so that I can be of greater service to my fellows. And if a defect persists, I can see it as an opportunity for more acceptance and to grow my self-compassion rather than meet it with more judgment. I then find that I am kinder and more tolerant of others as well. As our literature says, I can make a mistake without seeing myself as the mistake. ~Kristen D.

These comments are based on the member’s personal experience, strength, and hope gained through working Overeaters Anonymous 12 Steps and Traditions and using the tools of the program.

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