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Criticism Avoiders Anonymous

"Hello. My name is Clark." (The people gathered in the room respond, "Hi, Clark.")

"I am a…" (Group says, "You can say it. It's okay.")

"I'm a…criticism avoider." (Applause all around.)

"It started when I was a kid…" ("Come on now. Tell it.")

"…and my mom would praise me for everything. She'd say, 'Can you say Momma?' I'd say it, and she would gush about what a smart kid I was." ("We know, man. We know.")

"Then I would take the trash out when she asked me to, and she'd make a big deal over that too." ("We feel your pain, man.")

"And those good grades in school…" ("Oh, tell me about it. You're not alone.")

"So with me thinking I had to be the perfect kid and all that…" ("Yes, you can do it. C'mon. Pour it out, man.")

"…I learned not to say anything that would result in…" ("Just say the word. It's not that hard.")

"…that would result in…criticism." (More applause.)

"Then, when I expressed my opinion in class, and a couple of the older kids taunted me…" ("Let it out, man.")

"…I decided I would just go along to get along, even if it meant not telling the truth about what I believe or how I feel." (Lots of applause and cheers.)

The group leader rises, pats the CAA rookie on the back, and says to the group, "And now, let's all repeat the CAA Six Steps." (They rise to their feet, taking off their caps.)

"Step one, I will admit that I'm not perfect."

"Step two, I will accept the fact that conflict will always exist."

"Step three, I will not avoid conflict, but rather will speak truth, even when others disagree."

"Step four, I will blend truth with tact and timing, so as not to blow others away."

"Step five, I will seek courage from other truth tellers."

"Step six, when I slip and fall back into criticism avoidance, I will attend another CAA meeting and admit my mistake, take responsibility for my own actions, and gain strength to go out there and tell the truth, boldly and with compassion."

The group leader places his hand over his heart and says, "And now the CAA prayer."

"God, grant me the courage to speak the truth, the love to speak it compassionately, and the wisdom to know when to keep my mouth shut and when to open it."

A CAA veteran walks over to the rookie and says, "Hey, you wanna head back to my place, where my wife can show you photo albums from our last 36 summer vacations?"

"Uh," the rookie stammers, "you know, I really appreciate it, but I'll take a rain check. The last time I looked at someone else's photo albums I fell asleep on their couch and didn't get home until 4 a.m. Boy, was my wife ticked!"

The rest of the group bursts into applause. "That was a test. The photo album thing? That was the initiation question. You passed with flying colors. Welcome aboard."

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