Chapter 9: Just for Today & Living the Program

Chapter 9 Page 90
Just for Today-Living the Program

Tell yourself:
JUST FOR TODAY my thoughts will be on my recovery, living and enjoying life without the use of drugs.
JUST FOR TODAY I will have faith in someone in N.A. who believes in me and wants to help me in my recovery.
JUST FOR TODAY I will have a program. I will try to follow it to the best of my ability.
JUST FOR TODAY through N.A. I will try to get a better perspective on my life.
JUST FOR TODAY I will be unafraid, my thoughts will be on my new associations, people who are not using and who have found a new way of life. So long as I follow that way, I have nothing to fear.

We admit our lives have been unmanageable, but sometimes we have a problem admitting our need for help. Our own self- will leads to many problems in our recovery; we want and demand that things go our way. We should know from our past experience that our way of doing things did not work. The principle of surrender guides us into a way of life in which we draw our strength from a Power greater than ourselves. Our daily surrender to our Higher Power provides the help we need. As addicts we have trouble with acceptance which is critical to our recovery. When we refuse to practice acceptance, we are, in effect, still denying our faith in a Higher Power. Worrying is the practice of lack of faith.

Surrendering our will puts us in contact with a Higher Power which fills the empty place inside that nothing could ever fill before. We learned to trust God for help daily. Living just for today relieves

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the burden of the past and the fear of the future. We learned to take whatever actions are necessary and leave the results in the hands of our Higher Power.

The Narcotics Anonymous program is spiritual. We strongly suggest that each person make an attempt to find a Higher Power of their understanding. Some of us have profound spiritual experiences, dramatic and inspirational in nature. For others, the awakening is more subtle. We recover in an atmosphere of acceptance and respect for one another’s beliefs. We try to avoid the self-deception of arrogance and self- righteousness. As we develop faith in our daily lives, we find that our Higher Power supplies us with the strength and guidance we need.

Each of us is free to work out our own concept of a Higher Power. Many of us were suspicious and skeptical because of disappointments we have had with religion. As new members, the talk of God we heard in meetings repelled us. Until we sought our own answers in this area, we were trapped in the ideas gathered from our past. Agnostics and atheists sometimes start out by just talking to “whatever’s there”. There is a spirit or an energy that can be felt in the meetings. This is sometimes the newcomer’s first concept of a Higher Power. Ideas from the past are often incomplete and unsatisfactory. Everything we know is subject to revision, especially what we know about the truth. We reevaluate our old ideas, so we can become acquainted with the new ideas that lead to a new way of life. We recognize we are human with a physical, mental and spiritual sickness. When we accept that our addiction caused our own hell and that there is a power available to help us, we begin to make progress in solving our problems.

Lack of daily maintenance can show up in many ways. Through open-minded effort we come to rely on a daily relationship with God as we understand Him. Each day most of us ask our Higher Power to help us stay clean, and each night we give thanks for the gift of recovery. As our lives become more comfortable, many of us lapse into spiritual complacency, and risking relapse, we find ourselves in the same horror and loss

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of purpose from which we have been given only a daily reprieve. This is hopefully when our pain motivates us to renew our daily spiritual maintenance. One way we can continue a conscious contact, especially in hard times, is to list the things for which we are grateful.

Many of us have found that setting aside quiet time for ourselves is helpful in making conscious contact with our Higher Power. By quieting of the mind, meditation can lead us to calmness and serenity. This quieting of the mind can be done in any place, time, or manner according to the individual.

Our Higher Power is accessible to us at all times. We receive guidance when we ask for knowledge of God’s will for us. Gradually as we become more God-centered than self- centered, our despair turns to hope. Change also involves the great source of fear-the unknown. Our Higher Power is our source of the courage we need to face this fear.

Some things we must accept, and others we can change. The wisdom to know the difference comes with growth in our spiritual program. If we maintain our spiritual condition daily, we find the pain and confusion easier to deal with. This is the emotional stability that we so badly need. With the help of our Higher Power, we never have to use again.

Any addict clean is a miracle. We keep this miracle alive in ongoing recovery with positive attitudes. If, after a period of time, we find ourselves in trouble with our recovery, we have probably stopped doing one or more of the things which helped us in the earlier stages of our recovery.

Three basic spiritual principles are Honesty, Open-mindedness, and Willingness to try. We say these are the HOW of our program. The initial honesty that we express is the desire to stop using. Next we honestly admit our powerlessness and the unmanageability of our lives.

Rigorous honesty is the most important tool we have in learning to live for today. Although honesty is difficult to practice, it is most rewarding. Honesty is the antidote to our diseased thinking.

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Our newly found faith serves as a firm foundation for courage in the future.

What we knew about living when we got here had almost killed us. Managing our own lives got us to the program of Narcotics Anonymous. We came in, knowing very little about how to be happy and enjoy life. A new idea cannot be grafted onto a closed mind. Being open-minded allows us to hear something that might save our lives. It allows us to listen to opposing points of view, and come to conclusions of our own. Open-mindedness leads us to the very insights that have eluded us during our lives. It is this principle that allows us to participate in a discussion without jumping to conclusions or predetermining right and wrong. We no longer need to make fools of ourselves by standing up for nonexistent virtues. We have learned that it is O.K. to not know all the answers, for then we are teachable and can learn to live our new life successfully.

Open-mindedness without willingness, however, will get us nowhere. We must be willing to do whatever is necessary to recover. We never know when the time will come when we must put forth all the effort and strength we have just to stay clean.

Honesty, open-mindedness and willingness to try, work hand- in-hand. The lack of one of these principles in our personal program can lead to relapse, and will certainly make recovery difficult and painful when it could be simple. This program is a vital part of our everyday living. If it were not for this program most of us would be dead or institutionalized. Our viewpoint changes from that of a loner to that of a member. We emphasize setting our house in order because it brings us relief. We trust in our Higher Power for the strength to meet our needs.

One way to practice the principles of HOW is by taking a daily inventory. Our inventory allows us to recognize our daily growth. We shouldn’t forget about our assets in striving to eliminate our defects. The old self-deception and self- centeredness can be replaced with spiritual principles.

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Staying clean is the first step in facing life. When we practice acceptance, our lives are simplified. When problems arise, we hope to be well equipped with the tools of the program. We honestly have to surrender our own self-centeredness and self- destructiveness. In the past we believed desperation would give us the strength to survive. Now we accept responsibility for our problems and see that we’re equally responsible for our solutions.

As recovering addicts, we have a lot to be grateful for. As our defects are removed, we are free to become all we can. We emerge as new individuals with an awareness of ourselves and the ability to take our places in the world.

In living the steps, we begin to let go of our self-obsession. We ask a Higher Power to remove our fear of facing ourselves and life. We redefine ourselves by working the steps and using the tools of recovery. We see ourselves differently. Our personalities change. We become feeling people, capable of responding appropriately to life. We put spiritual living first and learn to use patience, tolerance and humility in our daily affairs.

Other people in our lives help us develop trust and loving attitudes; we demand less and give more. We anger more slowly and forgive more easily. We learn about love from members of Narcotics Anonymous. Through the love we receive in our fellowship we begin to feel lovable ourselves, a feeling totally alien to our old egocentric selves.

Ego used to control us in all sorts of subtle ways. Anger is our reaction to our present reality. Resentments are reliving of past experiences again and again in our minds, and fear is our response to the future. We need to become willing to let God remove these defects that burden our spiritual growth.

New ideas are available to us through the sharing of our living experience. Rigorously practicing the few simple guidelines in this chapter, we recover daily. The principles of the program shape our personalities.

From the isolation of our addiction, we find a fellowship of people with the common bond of recovery. N.A. is like a lifeboat in a sea of isolation, hopelessness and destructive chaos. Our

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faith, strength and hope come from people sharing their recovery and from our relationship with the God of our own understanding. At first it feels awkward to share our feelings. Part of the pain of addiction is being cut off from this sharing experience. If we find ourselves in a bad place or we sense trouble coming, we call someone or get to a meeting. We learn to seek help before making difficult decisions. By humbling ourselves and asking for help, we can get through the toughest of times. I can’t, we can! In this way we find the strength we need when we need it the most. We form a mutual bond as we share our spiritual and mental resources.

Sharing in regularly scheduled meetings and one-on-one with recovering addicts helps us to stay clean. Attending meetings reminds us what it is like to be new and of the progressive nature of our disease. Attending our home group provides encouragement from the people we get to know. This sustains our recovery and helps us in our daily living. When we honestly tell our own story, someone else may identify with us. Serving the needs of our members and making our message available gives us a feeling of joy. Service gives us opportunities to grow in ways which touch all parts of our lives. Our experience in recovery may help them deal with their problems-what worked for us might work for them. Most addicts are able to accept this type of sharing, even from the very beginning. The get-togethers after our meetings are good opportunities to share things we didn’t get to discuss during the meeting. This is also a good time to talk one-on-one with our sponsors. Things we need to hear will surface and become clearer to us.

By sharing the experience of our recovery with newcomers, we help ourselves to stay clean. We share comfort and encouragement with others. Today we have people in our lives who stand with us. Getting away from our self-centeredness gives us a better perspective on life. By asking for help, we can change. Sharing is risky at times, but by becoming vulnerable we are able to grow.

Some will come to Narcotics Anonymous still trying to use people to help them continue their habit. Their closed mind is

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a barrier against change. A spirit of open-mindedness, coupled with an admission of powerlessness, is a key that will unlock the door to recovery. If someone with a drug problem comes to us seeking recovery and is willing to try, we gladly share with them how we stay clean.

We develop self-esteem as we help others find a new way of life. When we honestly evaluate what we have, we can learn to appreciate it. We begin to feel worthwhile being members of N.A. We can carry the gifts of recovery with us everywhere. The Twelve Steps of Narcotics Anonymous are a progressive recovery process established in our daily living. Ongoing recovery is dependent on our relationship with a loving God who cares for us and will do for us what we find impossible to do for ourselves.

During our recovery, each of us comes to our own understanding of the program. If we have difficulties, we trust our groups, our sponsors and our Higher Power to guide us. Thus, recovery, as found in Narcotics Anonymous, comes both from within and without.

We live a day at a time but also from moment to moment. When we stop living in the here and now, our problems become magnified unreasonably. Patience isn’t a strong point with us. That’s why we need our slogans and our N.A. friends to remind us to live the program just for today.

Tell yourself:
JUST FOR TODAY my thoughts will be on my recovery, living and enjoying life without the use of drugs.
JUST FOR TODAY I will have faith in someone in N.A. who believes in me and wants to help me in my recovery.
JUST FOR TODAY I will have a program. I will try to follow it to the best of my ability.
JUST FOR TODAY through N.A. I will try to get a better perspective on my life.
JUST FOR TODAY I will be unafraid, my thoughts will be on my new associations, people who are not using and who have found a new way of life. So long as I follow that way, I have nothing to fear.