Gratitude

Hopeless living problems have become joyously changed. Our disease has been arrested, and now anything is possible.

Basic Text, p. 106

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The NA program has given us more freedom than we ever dreamed possible. Sometimes, though, in the daily routine, we lose track of how much we’ve been given. How, exactly, have our lives changed in Narcotics Anonymous?

The bottom line of recovery, of course, is freedom from the compulsion to use. No longer must we devote all our resources to feeding our addiction. No longer must we endanger, humiliate, or abuse ourselves or others just to get the next “fix.” Abstinence itself has brought great freedom to our lives.

Narcotics Anonymous has given us much more than simple abstinence—we’ve been given a whole new life. We’ve taken our inventory and have identified the defects of character that bound us for so long, keeping us from living and enjoying life. We’ve surrendered those shortcomings, taken responsibility for them, and sought the direction and power we need to live differently. Our home group has given us the personal warmth and support that helps us continue living in recovery. And topping all this off, we have the love, care, and guidance of the God we’ve come to understand in NA.

In the course of day-to-day recovery, we sometimes forget how much our lives have changed in Narcotics Anonymous. Do we fully appreciate what our program has given us?

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Just for today: Recovery has given me freedom. I will greet the day with hope, grateful that anything is possible today.

Doing good, feeling good

We examine our actions, reactions, and motives. We often find that we’ve been doing better than we’ve been feeling.

Basic Text, p.43

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The way we treat others often reveals our own state of being. When we are at peace, we’re most likely to treat others with respect and compassion. However, when we’re feeling off center, we’re likely to respond to others with intolerance and impatience. When we take regular inventory, we’ll probably notice a pattern: We treat others badly when we feel bad about ourselves.

What might not be revealed in an inventory, however, is the other side of the coin: When we treat others well, we feel good about ourselves. When we add this positive truth to the negative facts we find about ourselves in our inventory, we begin to behave differently.

When we feel badly, we can pause to pray for guidance and strength. Then, we make a decision to treat those around us with kindness, gentleness, and the same concern we’d like to be shown. A decision to be kind may nurture and sustain the happiness and peace of mind we all wish for. And the joy we inspire may lift the spirits of those around us, in turn fostering our own spiritual well-being.

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Just for today: I will remember that if I change my actions, my thoughts will follow.

Over time, not overnight

We found that we do not recover physically, mentally, or spiritually overnight.

Basic Text, p. 28

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Have you ever approached a recovery celebration with the feeling that you should be further along in your recovery than you are? Maybe you have listened to newcomers sharing in meetings, members with much less clean time, and thought, “But I’m just barely beginning to understand what they’re talking about!”

It’s odd that we should come into recovery thinking that we will feel wonderful right away or no longer have any difficulty handling life’s twists and turns. We expect our physical problems to correct themselves, our thinking to become rational, and a fully developed spiritual life to manifest itself overnight. We forget that we spent years abusing our bodies, numbing our minds, and suppressing our awareness of a Higher Power. We cannot undo the damage in a day. We can, however, apply the next step, go to the next meeting, help the next newcomer. We heal and recover bit by bit—not overnight, but over time.

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Just for today: My body will heal a little, my mind will become a little clearer, and my relationship with my Higher Power will strengthen.

Copyright © 1991-2016 by Narcotics Anonymous World Services, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Active listening

Through active listening, we hear things that work for us.

Basic Text, pp. 106-107

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Most of us arrived in Narcotics Anonymous with a very poor ability to listen. But to take full advantage of “the therapeutic value of one addict helping another,” we must learn to listen actively.

What is active listening for us? In meetings, it means we concentrate on what the speaker is sharing, while the speaker is sharing. We set aside our own thoughts and opinions until the meeting is over. That’s when we sort through what we’ve heard to decide which ideas we want to use and which we want to explore further.

We can apply our active listening skills in sponsorship, too. Newcomers often talk with us about some “major event” in their lives. While such events may not seem significant to us, they are to the newcomer who has little experience living life on life’s terms. Our active listening helps us empathize with the feelings such events trigger in our sponsee’s life. With that understanding, we have a better idea of what to share with them.

The ability to listen actively was unknown to us in the isolation of our addiction. Today, this ability helps us actively engage with our recovery. Through active listening, we receive everything being offered us in NA, and we share fully with others the love and care we’ve been given.

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Just for today: I will strive to be an active listener. I will practice active listening when others share and when I share with others.

Regular prayer and meditation

Most of us pray when we are hurting. We learn that if we pray regularly, we won’t be hurting as often or as intensely.

Basic Text, p. 45

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Regular prayer and meditation are two more key elements in our new pattern of living. Our active addiction was more than just a bad habit waiting to be broken by force of will. Our addiction was a negative, draining dependence that stole all our positive energy. That dependence was so total, it prevented us from developing any kind of reliance on a Higher Power.

From the very beginning of our recovery, our Higher Power has been the force that’s brought us freedom. First, it relieved us of our compulsion to keep taking drugs, even when we knew they were killing us. Then, it gave us freedom from the more deeply ingrained aspects of our disease. Our Higher Power gave us the direction, the strength, and the courage to inventory ourselves; to admit out loud to another person what our lives had been like, perhaps for the first time; to begin seeking release from the chronic defects of character underlying our troubles; and, at last, to make amends for the wrongs we’d done.

That first contact with a Higher Power, and that first freedom, has grown into a life full of freedom. We maintain that freedom by maintaining and improving our conscious contact with our Higher Power through regular prayer and meditation.

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Just for today: I will make a commitment to include regular prayer and meditation in my new pattern of living.

The Power of love

We begin to see that God’s love has been present all the time, just waiting for us to accept it.

Basic Text, p. 47

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God’s love is the transforming power that drives our recovery. With that love, we find freedom from the hopeless, desperate cycle of using, self-hatred, and more using. With that love, we gain a sense of reason and purpose in our once purposeless lives. With that love, we are given the inner direction and strength we need to begin a new way of life: the NA way. With that love, we begin to see things differently, as if with new eyes.

As we examine our lives through the eyes of love, we make what may be a startling discovery: The loving God we’ve so recently come to understand has always been with us and has always loved us. We recall the times when we asked for the aid of a Higher Power and were given it. We even recall times when we didn’t ask for such help, yet were given it anyway. We realize that a loving Higher Power has cared for us all along, preserving our lives till the day when we could accept that love for ourselves.

The Power of love has been with us all along. Today, we are grateful to have survived long enough to become consciously aware of that love’s presence in our world and our lives. Its vitality floods our very being, guiding our recovery and showing us how to live.

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Just for today: I accept the love of a Higher Power in my life. I am conscious of that Power’s guidance and strength within me. Today, I claim it for my own.

Responsible recovery

…we accept responsibility for our problems and see that we’re equally responsible for our solutions.

Basic Text, p. 97

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Some of us, well accustomed to leaving our personal responsibilities to others, may attempt the same behavior in recovery. We quickly find out it doesn’t work.

For instance, we are considering making a change in our lives, so we call our sponsor and ask what we should do. Under the guise of seeking direction, we are actually asking our sponsor to assume responsibility for making decisions about our life. Or maybe we’ve been short with someone at a meeting, so we ask that person’s best friend to make our apologies for us. Perhaps we’ve imposed on a friend several times in the last month to cover our service commitment. Could it be that we’ve asked a friend to analyze our behavior and identify our shortcomings, rather than taking our own personal inventory?

Recovery is something that has to be worked for. It isn’t going to be handed to us on a silver platter, nor can we expect our friends or our sponsor to be responsible for the work we must do ourselves. We recover by making our own decisions, doing our own service, and working our own steps. By doing it for ourselves, we receive the rewards.

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Just for today: I accept responsibility for my life and my recovery.