Overeaters Anonymous - any atheists?




View Full Version : any atheists?


mistypaw
03-08-2011, 12:30 PM
i am an atheist trying to make the program work for me. i have several ways i'm going about it, but I would be interested in speaking with other atheists who has done/attempted this also and how they managed. I've seen folks say they know one - but i'd really like to talk to some myself if possible.

specifically curious know how they solved the higher power and spirituality issues. and how they dealt with all the prayer and faith that is dominant in the steps, traditions, literature, and meetings.


MonicaM
03-08-2011, 01:00 PM
What program? I am counting calories; my religion has nothing to do with my diet.

mistypaw
03-08-2011, 01:06 PM
Well, the program generally refers to the "12 Step" program of which Overeaters Anonymous, "OA," is one of. What your plan of eating is within that is your choice and different from person to person.

So for people using the OA Program, there are a lot of religious underlinings to it.


mandalinn82
03-08-2011, 01:09 PM
Monica - she's referring to the "Overeaters Anonymous" program, which is a program for food addiction similar to other "Anonymous" type programs (Alcoholics, Narcotics, etc). Since such programs usually revolve around submitting control of your addiction to a "higher power", they can raise unique (but not insurmountable) challenges to atheists.

I don't have personal experience in this, but I will say that some research has been done on 12-step success rates and religious belief (mostly as relates to AA, but could also apply to OA). The research has indicated that people who don't believe in a more traditional higher power and are firm in that conviction have nearly as high success rates in such programs as those who are firm in their belief in God. Regularly attending meetings seems to be the differentiator in success, not necessarily the religious belief. There does seem to be a higher meeting dropout rate, though, among those who do not have strong convictions (either religious or atheist) either way, probably because the meetings are unsettling to them.

pamatga
03-08-2011, 01:13 PM
Misty - there is 12 Step literature that addresses this issue directly that you can seek out but I will answer this since you asked. First of all, you do not need to believe in God, belong to an specific religion or hold any specific theological beliefs or doctrines to work the 12 Steps effectively.

I have been following the OA program for 16 years. It works if you work it. Put your faith in the program itself! Post the 12 steps and start to work one of them. Ideally, you want to start at Step One but I can tell you I worked all the Steps but 3 until three years ago and I still struggle with that and I am a practicing Catholic! Yes, handing our life over is very difficult for us "addicts" because we have trust issues, we are control freaks and we have anxiety up the wazoo. I had no problem making amends but I sure couldn't live one day at a time without having panic attacks.

My sponsor was agnostic. She used to say HP(Higher Power). Some people like to think of HP as your "best self". The part of you that looks out for you when no one else will. The part of you that wants the absolute best out of life for yourself. In other words, begin to believe in yourself, that you have all the answers you need within yourself, and that you do this by beginning to trust in your own abilities to "fix" your life.

Take one day at a time. Take one step at a time. There is no right or wrong way to work the Program but as they say, "The Program works if you work it."

4star
03-28-2011, 11:12 AM
You know, I have thought of the religious aspect and I don't think it's so much about submitting to a higher power as it is to surrendering a part of yourself to acknowledge a problem you need to solve. I also think that it doesn't necessarily have to be a "higher power" to work(though many people may understand the program better that way)as much as a "higher ideal". If you think you might need a program like OA it's best to give it a shot and try to benefit from it than to exclude something that may help. If you find zero help there, it's free anyway, you've lost an hour or so, at best.

bitkit
04-03-2011, 11:01 AM
These are excellent answers!

I am struggling with this issue myself--- how to surrender to a non-religious HP--- and am grateful for the wisdom shared here about it.

I like the idea of surrending to the program, with the program representing collective wisdom, experience, and love. The best of humanity. Perhaps my own "best of" will emerge with this program.

Thanks for getting this topic out there.

Cat

hpnodat
04-03-2011, 11:50 AM
The best thing about practicing the 12 steps is you don't have to go with someone elses idea of what a Higher power should be. It's a Higher Power of YOUR understanding, not someone elses. I choose to call my HP God but others do not. I have heard of people using the program as their HP, also Meetings, Sponsors, Mother Earth, even door knobs. lol Having faith in something doesn't mean you have to be religious or have a belief in God or someone elses god. I've even known people who have "borrowed" someone elses HP because they couldn't define their own, this is OK too. You also do not have to be have belief in God or religion to be a spiritual person.

Having faith simply put means to believe in something. If you can believe in something then you can have faith.

I believe if I keep practicing the principles of MY program, I will have success. I have faith in my program.

dannyb
04-05-2011, 12:55 PM
i am an atheist trying to make the program work for me. i have several ways i'm going about it, but I would be interested in speaking with other atheists who has done/attempted this also and how they managed. I've seen folks say they know one - but i'd really like to talk to some myself if possible.

specifically curious know how they solved the higher power and spirituality issues. and how they dealt with all the prayer and faith that is dominant in the steps, traditions, literature, and meetings.

I am an atheist who is working the OA steps. I reached out for and found a sponsor who helped me work through the HP concept. I think there are a lot of us.

bitkit
04-18-2011, 03:50 PM
Hey everyone,

TRG online has a loop for "OA Free Thinkers" which I have found really interesting and hopeful and helpful so far.

If you can't find it off their site listings, contact them and I'm sure they'll hook you up.

Lots of old-timers with recovery and a healthy critical perspective to OA, too.

Catherine

tommy
04-19-2011, 02:45 PM
Many people in 12 step programs sub the word good for god and it seems to work for them. Compulsive overeating is soul sickening and the polar opposite of good. Good luck.

dannyb
04-22-2011, 10:32 AM
Here's a copy of a post that I just shared w/ the TRG Freethinker's Loop:

The more I thought about it, the more I thought that the "Humanist 12-Step" list that I circulated this morning had some shortcomings. So, I took a stab at writing one. I tried to be true to the intent and aim of the OA and AA 12-steps,but substituted Humanist principles for the theistic ones. I'm interested to hear what you think, and I'm happy to hear any suggestions for improvement:

DAN Bís HUMANIST 12-Steps for Overeaters (DRAFT):

1. We admitted we were powerless over food and that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. We came to believe that it was possible to be restored to sanity by turning to a fellowship of other sufferers and by relying upon various tools and techniques that could enhance and strengthen our own power over food.

3. We made a decision to turn to that fellowship and to rely upon those techniques and tools in order to improve all aspects of our lives.

4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. We admitted to ourselves and to another person, in a spirit of penitence, the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. We became willing to improve ourselves and committed to address our shortcomings, which commitment included a willingness to accept the help of our fellowship and to rely upon tools and techniques that could assist us in this endeavor.

7. We made a symbolic gesture that had personal meaning to us that commemorated our willingness and commitment to be rid of our shortcomings.

8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it

11. We sought to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

milmin2043
04-22-2011, 10:37 AM
dannyb-I like it! Very good.

cassandra4
05-09-2011, 10:21 PM
Here's a copy of a post that I just shared w/ the TRG Freethinker's Loop:

The more I thought about it, the more I thought that the "Humanist 12-Step" list that I circulated this morning had some shortcomings. So, I took a stab at writing one. I tried to be true to the intent and aim of the OA and AA 12-steps,but substituted Humanist principles for the theistic ones. I'm interested to hear what you think, and I'm happy to hear any suggestions for improvement:

DAN Bís HUMANIST 12-Steps for Overeaters (DRAFT):

1. We admitted we were powerless over food and that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. We came to believe that it was possible to be restored to sanity by turning to a fellowship of other sufferers and by relying upon various tools and techniques that could enhance and strengthen our own power over food.

3. We made a decision to turn to that fellowship and to rely upon those techniques and tools in order to improve all aspects of our lives.

4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. We admitted to ourselves and to another person, in a spirit of penitence, the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. We became willing to improve ourselves and committed to address our shortcomings, which commitment included a willingness to accept the help of our fellowship and to rely upon tools and techniques that could assist us in this endeavor.

7. We made a symbolic gesture that had personal meaning to us that commemorated our willingness and commitment to be rid of our shortcomings.

8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it

11. We sought to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

This is very helpful for me. Thanks for sharing!

bitkit
05-10-2011, 01:15 PM
Hi all.

I've grown partial to this alternative 12 steps. Obviously subsitute "food" or "compulsive food behaviour" where applicable.

Not sure it fits totally, but I am not quite on board with the fellowship as an HP, which seems to be the message of the Humanist Steps. I like "power other than self" to remind me a) there are people in the world; and b) we are all part of something greater... the world, the universe, energy, etc.

I also like the emphasis on prayer and meditation, which I need badly and have been resistant to for so long.

Anyway, just another list to ponder. I am 40 days abstinent on my POE today! Thanks for reading.

A Buddhist’s Non-Theist 12 Steps:

1. We admitted our addictive craving over alcohol, and recognized its consequences in our lives.
2. Came to believe that a power other than self could restore us to wholeness.
3. Made a decision to go for refuge to this other power as we understood it.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to ourselves and another human being the exact moral nature of our past.
6. Became entirely ready to work at transforming ourselves.
7. With the assistance of others and our own firm resolve, we transformed unskillful aspects of ourselves and cultivated positive ones.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed.
9. Made direct amends to such people where possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. In addition, made a conscientious effort to forgive all those who harmed us.
10. Continue to maintain awareness of our actions and motives, and when we acted unskillfully promptly admitted it.
11. Engaged through the practice of meditation to improve our conscious contact with our true selves, and seeking that beyond self. Also used prayer as a means to cultivate positive attitudes and states of mind.
12. Having gained spiritual insight as a result of these steps, we practice these principles in all areas of our lives, and make this message available to others in need of recovery.

dakiniverona
05-22-2011, 03:29 PM
I am more agnostic than atheist. I was in OA years ago and my sponsor was not great and I left the program after being told I would burn in **** for trying Buddism.

I now practice Wicca Religion.. I like the ritual and use the ways of nature.. burning a candle to help me focus.. writing out my positive affirmations. I saw some great advice in this thread and am again seeking help with my food addiction.

Hope we can provide support for each other.

Valerie

dannyb
05-23-2011, 06:38 PM
I am more agnostic than atheist. I was in OA years ago and my sponsor was not great and I left the program after being told I would burn in **** for trying Buddism.

I now practice Wicca Religion.. I like the ritual and use the ways of nature.. burning a candle to help me focus.. writing out my positive affirmations. I saw some great advice in this thread and am again seeking help with my food addiction.

Hope we can provide support for each other.

Valerie

Did your sponsor say that? Outrageous that any person would say that to another, much less one sufferer to another. There are all kinds of approaches to HP, and a Wiccan approach would work very well. Personally, the approach that I take is very heavily influenced by Buddhism. Best wishes finding a more sympathetic sponsor.

FloridaGoldenGirl
01-19-2012, 09:07 PM
You asked about other atheists at OA. I tried going to a couple of meetings years ago then again just at Christmas we tried again and attended a few meetings. I could not get past the religious emphasis on spirituality and using God every other word it seemed, Each step is heavily based on this spiritual belief and it just did not work for me. I am looking for another help group, I do need help and I know it but cannot afford any private therapy or a health spa. Maybe you will have better luck than I did. When we went to the meetings, it was very sad, people obviously in deep need of help also, I am sure many were just intensely lonely, and I wish I could have been able to stay and maybe contribute but it was impossible. So, that is my experience. My husband went with me and he also agreed.

mistypaw
01-20-2012, 03:47 AM
Hey everyone,

TRG online has a loop for "OA Free Thinkers" which I have found really interesting and hopeful and helpful so far.

If you can't find it off their site listings, contact them and I'm sure they'll hook you up.

Lots of old-timers with recovery and a healthy critical perspective to OA, too.

Catherine

I am very glad for this group. Though it, I finally found a sponsor who I think just might be a good fit for me. That's something I never had before.

You asked about other atheists at OA. I tried going to a couple of meetings years ago then again just at Christmas we tried again and attended a few meetings. I could not get past the religious emphasis on spirituality and using God every other word it seemed, Each step is heavily based on this spiritual belief and it just did not work for me. I am looking for another help group, I do need help and I know it but cannot afford any private therapy or a health spa. Maybe you will have better luck than I did. When we went to the meetings, it was very sad, people obviously in deep need of help also, I am sure many were just intensely lonely, and I wish I could have been able to stay and maybe contribute but it was impossible. So, that is my experience. My husband went with me and he also agreed.

While I agree there are a lot of issues to work around with the OA program as a hardcore skeptical atheist - private therapy is very expensive, and OA is cheaper and more available than most other stuff out there. That and I kinda like the challenge of seeing how I might be able to do it. Because if I can manage it, maybe others can too.

my cat is the boss
02-01-2012, 11:36 PM
I belong to another 12 step program and I think the replies you have received as well as the revision of the steps are great. I was raised as an atheist and had issues with an HP too; however, I've learned through the steps and the tools that you can learn to let go w/out an HP. For me I always liked the thought of the power greater than myself as being the collective consciousness of my home group.

WishfulshrinkingSLP
02-05-2012, 08:59 PM
When I started going to OA I had a huge problem with the whole concept of a HP. After reading the AA BigBook I took it exactly as they teach it. Do you believe in a power greater then you. Any power. It opened the door and I actually do now have a relationship with a High Power.

swissy
04-23-2012, 10:26 AM
Never did OA but found that "a god as we understand it" hard to be taught, I'm still not sure as to whether I believe there is a hp or it is a coping mechanism so my brain can relieve itself of some pressure.

pixelllate
04-23-2012, 10:31 AM
I am agnostic. I left OA not because of the religious aspect, but because many of the mantras and the way it was set up was not for me I guess, but joining it did give me that extra oomph to deal with my binging problems.

classykaren
05-11-2012, 04:49 PM
Hello What is TRG Online?

chocoholic21
05-19-2012, 08:08 PM
Here's a copy of a post that I just shared w/ the TRG Freethinker's Loop:

The more I thought about it, the more I thought that the "Humanist 12-Step" list that I circulated this morning had some shortcomings. So, I took a stab at writing one. I tried to be true to the intent and aim of the OA and AA 12-steps,but substituted Humanist principles for the theistic ones. I'm interested to hear what you think, and I'm happy to hear any suggestions for improvement:

DAN Bís HUMANIST 12-Steps for Overeaters (DRAFT):

1. We admitted we were powerless over food and that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. We came to believe that it was possible to be restored to sanity by turning to a fellowship of other sufferers and by relying upon various tools and techniques that could enhance and strengthen our own power over food.

3. We made a decision to turn to that fellowship and to rely upon those techniques and tools in order to improve all aspects of our lives.

4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. We admitted to ourselves and to another person, in a spirit of penitence, the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. We became willing to improve ourselves and committed to address our shortcomings, which commitment included a willingness to accept the help of our fellowship and to rely upon tools and techniques that could assist us in this endeavor.

7. We made a symbolic gesture that had personal meaning to us that commemorated our willingness and commitment to be rid of our shortcomings.

8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it

11. We sought to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Thank you so much for sharing these with us! I too felt extremely weird going to OA meetings and being an atheist. Reciting the serenity prayer and reading the steps did not really have an effect on me because I do not believe in a higher power. It makes so much sense that the higher power could be the group itself.

I have printed these steps off and posted them on my wall as well as putting a copy in my purse. I'm glad there is a way to work the programme as a Humanist :carrot:

Miral Paris
05-22-2012, 07:47 AM
I just could never go to an OA meeting because of the religious overtones.

Sum38
05-22-2012, 08:14 AM
Wow....this was very informative! I always feel out of place with my agnostic views.

:grouphug: