One of the biggest stumbling blocks to recovery seems to be placing unrealistic expectations on… others.
Basic Text, p. 82
Many of us come into Narcotics Anonymous feeling pretty poorly about ourselves. By comparison, the recovering addicts we meet at meetings may seem almost superhumanly serene. These wise, loving people have many months, even years of living in accordance with spiritual principles, giving of themselves to others without expecting anything back. We trust them, allowing them to love us until we can love ourselves. We expect them to make everything alright again.
Then the glow of early recovery begins to fade, and we start to see the human side of our NA friends and sponsor. Perhaps a fellow member of our home group stands us up for a coffee date, or we see two oldtimers bickering at a committee meeting, or we realize our sponsor has a defect of character or two. We’re crushed, disillusioned—these recovering addicts aren’t perfect after all! How can we possibly trust them anymore?
Somewhere between “the heroes of recovery” and “the lousy NA bums” lies the truth: Our fellow addicts are neither completely bad nor completely good. After all, if they were perfect, they wouldn’t need this program. Our friends and sponsor are ordinary recovering addicts, just like we are. We can relate to their ordinary recovery experience and use it in our own program.
Just for today: My friends and my sponsor are human, just like me—and I trust their experience all the more for that.
We need not lose faith when we become rebellious.
Basic Text, p. 35
Many of us have lived our entire lives in revolt. Our initial response to any type of direction is often negative. Automatic rejection of authority seems to be a troubling character defect for many addicts.
A thorough self-examination can show us how we react to the world around us. We can ask ourselves if our rebellion against people, places, and institutions is justified. If we keep writing long enough, we can usually get past what others did and uncover our own part in our affairs. We find that what others did to us was not as important as how we responded to the situations we found ourselves in.
Regular inventory allows us to examine the patterns in our reactions to life and see if we are prone to chronic rebelliousness. Sometimes we will find that, while we may usually go along with what is suggested to us rather than risk rejection, we secretly harbor resentments against authority. If left to themselves, these resentments can lead us away from our program of recovery.
The inventory process allows us to uncover, evaluate, and alter our rebellious patterns. We can’t change the world by taking an inventory, but we can change the way we react to it.
Just for today: I want freedom from the turmoil of rebelliousness. Before I act, I will inventory myself and think about my true values.
Humility is a by-product that allows us to grow and develop in an atmosphere of freedom and removes the fear of becoming known by our employers, families, or friends as addicts.
Basic Text, pp. 75-76
Many of us may not have understood the idea that “anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions.” We wondered how this could be. What does anonymity have to do with our spiritual life?
The answer is, plenty! By guarding and cherishing our anonymity, we earn spiritual rewards beyond comprehension. There is great virtue in doing something nice for someone and not telling anyone about it. By the same token, resisting the impulse to proudly announce our membership in NA to the world—in effect, asking everyone to acknowledge how wonderful we are—makes us value our recovery all the more.
Recovery is a gift that we’ve received from a Power greater than ourselves. Boasting about our recovery, as if it were our own doing, leads to prideful feelings and grandiosity. But keeping our anonymity leads to humility and feelings of gratitude. Recovery is its own reward; public acclaim can’t make it any more valuable than it already is.
Just for today: Recovery is its own reward; I don’t need to have mine approved of publicly. I will maintain and cherish my anonymity.
Daily practice of our Twelve Step program enables us to change from what we were to people guided by a Higher Power.
Basic Text, p. 86
Who have we been, and who have we become? There are a couple of ways to answer this question. One is very simple: We came to Narcotics Anonymous as addicts, our addiction killing us. In NA, we’ve been freed from our obsession with drugs and our compulsion to use. And our lives have changed.
But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Who have we really been? In the past, we were people without power or direction. We felt like we had no purpose, no reason for living. Our lives didn’t make any more sense to us than they did to our families, our friends, or our neighbors.
Who are we really becoming? Today, we are not merely clean addicts, but people with a sense of direction, a purpose, and a Power greater than ourselves. Through daily practice of the Twelve Steps, we’ve begun to understand how our addiction warped our feelings, motivations, and behavior. Gradually, the destructive force of our disease has been replaced by the life-giving force of our Higher Power.
Recovery means more than cleaning up—it means powering up. We have done more than shed some bad habits; we are becoming new people, guided by a Higher Power.
Just for today: The guidance I need to become a new person is ready at hand. Today, I will draw further away from my old lack of direction and closer to my Higher Power.
We become able to make wise and loving decisions based on principles and ideals that have real value in our lives.
Basic Text, p. 105
Addiction gave us a certain set of values, principles we applied in our lives. “You pushed me,” one of those values told us, “so I pushed back, hard.” “It’s mine” was another value generated by our disease. “Well, okay, maybe it wasn’t mine to start with, but I liked it, so I made it mine.” Those values were hardly values at all—more like rationalizations—and they certainly didn’t help us make wise and loving decisions. In fact, they served primarily to dig us deeper and deeper into the grave we’d already dug for ourselves.
The Twelve Steps give us a strong dose of real values, the kind that help us live in harmony with ourselves and those around us. We place our faith not in ourselves, our families, or our communities, but in a Higher Power—and in doing so, we grow secure enough to be able to trust our communities, our families, and even ourselves. We learn to be honest, no matter what—and we learn to refrain from doing things we might want to hide. We learn to accept responsibility for our actions. “It’s mine”is replaced with a spirit of selflessness. These are the kind of values that help us become a responsible, productive part of the life around us. Rather than digging us deeper into a grave, these values restore us to the world of the living.
Just for today: I am grateful for the values I’ve developed. I am thankful for the ability they give me to make wise, loving decisions as a responsible, productive member of my community.