Bearing in mind the spiritual aspect of our admission in the First Step of our powerlessness over others, the CoDA Fellowship Service Manual (FSM) offers guidelines for personal, written, and electronic communications for individual members and groups, including those engaging in outreach and fellowship service work.
Guidelines for sharing – Approved 2010
The following statement is to be read before the meeting opens for general sharing
When many of us were growing up no-one listened to us. We were told our feelings were wrong or that they did not matter. We were often interrupted and criticised.
As adults we are used to taking care of other people and not taking responsibility for our own lives.
So in our meetings we speak about our own experiences and feelings. We listen without comment to what others say because it is true for them. In this way we work towards taking responsibility for our own lives, rather than giving advice to others.
It is important for our recovery to know that we can share without fear of interruption, contradiction or criticism.
- We do not judge, offer advice or comment on what other people say in meetings, even if the comment is positive or solicited – this is ‘feedback‘.
- We do not interrupt one another or engage in discussion – this is called ‘crosstalk‘. When sharing, we use ‘I’ statements and avoid using the word ‘you’, ‘we’, ‘one’ or addressing someone by ‘name’. Crosstalk can include: physical contact or touch, passing tissues, excessive laughter, verbal sounds and noises.
Crosstalk and feedback are strongly discouraged in CoDA, since as codependents we are working to break away from dependency on what others think, feel or advise.
Crosstalk infringes on boundaries, and many people find crosstalk or feedback unsafe. When we ask for no crosstalk, we have set a boundary in order to create a safe environment. No crosstalk nurtures recovery rather than codependency. It reminds us to focus on our own recovery rather than be distracted with helping or controlling others.
If a previous member’s share echoes within you and inspires you to speak, we suggest you stick to the ‘general topics’ you identify with, only. If you would like to speak to someone about something they have shared, please do so after the meeting, asking their consent first.
The secretary may read these guidelines again to remind members of this CoDA principle. Please do not be upset or embarrassed if this happens – it is only to maintain the safety of the room, to help us identify codependent behaviour and to further our recoveries and awareness of this principle.
If you think these guidelines have been violated or are not being observed, please ask the secretary to read them again at the end of that particular share.
To be read during meeting, AFTER a specific share, by the secretary
If FEEDBACK occurs…
We would like to gently remind the group that all feedback, including positive comment, is discouraged, since as codependents we are working to establish our own realities and opinions free from the judgement, advice and opinions of other people, even those we love and respect. This is not a criticism but only a reminder and a useful tool to preserve the safety of the room and further our recovery from codependency.
If CROSSTALK occurs…
We would like to gently remind the group that crosstalk or mentioning people by name is discouraged in CoDA, as we all have a right to share without fear of being misinterpreted or having our boundaries violated.
We would like to gently remind the group that we are encouraged to further our personal recovery from codependency by refraining from using the word ‘you’, ‘we’ or ‘one’ in our sharing and instead, keep the focus on our own recovery by using ‘I’ statements. Changing the language we use in meetings and working to keep the focus on ourselves is a valuable tool in recognising and nurturing our own reality and identity.
CoDA UK – Sharing Guidelines
Healthy Meetings – handbook
For Safety Sake – guidelines
Communication & Recovery
CoDA.org – Online communications guidelines