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3 Principles
with guidelines


1.) Confidentiality.
This may be the most important guiding principle of NINE STEP PAGANS meetings, allowing members to share sometimes embarrassing facts about themselves without fear of becoming a subject of gossip or retaliation in the larger community, or having hurtful matters reach the wrong ears.
a) Everyone who participates in the meeting agrees that the personal matters discussed in the meeting stay in the meeting. This includes the identities of people at the meeting.
b) The only time confidentiality is to be breached is when it seems that keeping silence may result in significant harm or death to a person, especially a child or other dependant.

2.) Focus on Self.
Its all too easy to focus on the mistakes of others, or on philosophical abstractions, while avoiding the unpleasant facts about oneself that brought about the need to attend meetings in the first place. This is one setting where being "self-centered" is appropriate and helpful. Others will learn more from your story than they will from advice or instruction. (See "Mutual Respect")
a) The bulk of each members talk should be on themselves, their experiences, strengths, weaknesses, mistakes, successes, lessons learned, tools used.
b) The sharing of others peoples stories should only be done if it can be done without violating confidentiality, and only in the context of how they affect the speakers progress toward health and freedom.

3) Mutual Respect.
The success of the meeting will depend on people feeling secure enough to share the good, bad, ugly, and beautiful parts of their lives, faith, and behaviors without fear of being shamed, judged, or ridiculed.
a) No member of the meeting should criticize anyones history, beliefs, struggles or failures. There should be no direct or implied competition or comparison between members, over who has the most serious or least serious history, addiction, or compulsive behavior.
b) Members should be allowed to finish the entirety of what they are saying without interruption, and also should be mindful that they leave time for others to speak.
c) The giving of advice or "suggestions" is to be generally avoided, as it implies a teacher/student relationship of a type which does not honor the recipients capacity to understand and absorb the information, wisdom, or foolishness presented in overall sharing of stories, and apply the pieces which make sense to them. Even in sponsorship, care must be taken to avoid the formation of over-dependence on any humans wisdom, given the fact of human fallibility.
d) Full attention should be given to the person to whom the moderator has given the floor, with no interruptions. Any questions asked should be asked after the speaker has finished, and only for clarification as to what was meant.
e) Those who need to arrive late or leave early should do so quietly, without drawing attention to themselves.
f) Differences of opinion should be acknowledged, accepted, and moved on from, without taking up time in attempts to establish who is "right"

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