We do our best to silence our inner critics as we listen to other members share in meetings. We focus on their words and the feelings behind them. We practice acceptance by listening with care and attention. We set aside our own ideas about their lives and their recovery, even if it's just for the moment.
One member shared, "I can connect to anyone's story as long as I filter it through the message." When we listen for the message, it helps us relate on an emotional level. We can recall our attempts to stop using and the process of losing the desire to use. We find it easier to stop judging and start accepting our fellow members when we recognize all of our struggles as part of finding a new way to live.
We realize that being judgmental sours our ability to empathize, even when we don't give voice to such thoughts. After recognizing the obstacle this creates in our own recovery, we stop silently condemning other people's behavior. When we listen without judgment, we get a glimpse of freedom from the punishing thoughts we've lived with for so long. One of the gifts of NA recovery is that we learn to quiet our minds so we can listen with our hearts.