Narcotics Anonymous Way of Life

~ 2012 Form ~

Twelve Principles of Narcotics Anonymous


"Open-mindedness is our bridge to the experience of others.
It is the passage way out of loneliness into the life of the Spirit."

Fear and guilt keep us from doing what we can do today. Fear is concern over future pain. Guilt is an echo of knowing we could have done better. Both limit us and prevent us from re-experiencing past pain. Our pain has taught us to avoid situations where we have failed. Are the limitations of the past really protecting us? Or are they merely carry-overs from our active addiction and early recovery? Recovery allows us to lose the defects that cause us pain and gain the principles that make us happy, joyous, and free.

Open-mindedness becomes a key principle in recovery because it is something we can do on a daily basis. It can provide both the opportunity and break we need to grow at the same time. It turns negative situations into positive ones. Open mindedness allows us to move from the problem to the solution. When we become willing to look at our part in the problem, we get to the solution quicker. Many times when our part it taken away, the problem doesn’t even exist. A problem is only a problem is we are not willing to experience a solution. Open mindedness opens the doors that have closed our spiritual growth. Once we are able to view the world through other’s eyes, we begin to see more clearly. As a result, we spend less time angry and more time enjoying the beauty that life has to offer. We literally give ourselves a break when we check our past limitations by attempting to do things that we have rightfully associated with failure. in the past. Not always, but sometimes the impossible has become possible.

The only time we’re living in the limited past is when we make the decision to be miserable. By choosing to be open-minded, we can exert our willingness to try and see what happens. Sometimes, the failure will set in immediately and we will need to draw back. If we find ourselves on thin ice, it is no time to put our foot down. Practice and repetition will surprise us often enough to reward our efforts. We are not the people we once were. Our minds are clearing. Our memories begin to function properly and our ability to act meaningfully increases. This process never stops – this is what it means to be alive. If our range of action doesn't increase as time goes by, we will be one of those who say, "Recovery isn't paying off. I'm not changing!" This very dissatisfaction can be used for positive change. We can snap out of it, and say to ourselves, "OK, I'm going to get with the program and change a few things today,. I am going to change my negative attitude!" Admission of our disease, coming to believe in a Higher Power, and turning ourselves over to the care of a Loving God is a damn good start! The negativity of our self-assessment is gone in the moment of real surrender.

Well, guess who is in charge of your recovery? If we are not willing to step out on faith occasionally, we have no way of changing unless we’re hit with dumb luck or good fortune. Fortunately, we even get a little of that occasionally. With open-mindedness, we can sit and think about something without feeling the urgency to jump to conclusions or apply narrow limitations to situations placed on our minds. on what we is surfaced in our minds.

The underlying fear that if we don't keep our thoughts and feelings in strict control we will relapse or go out of control ceases to apply. We mind our own business. We transfer control of our wills and lives to the care of a loving God of our understanding. How else can we experience the miraculous nature of recovery? If we have come this far without consciously realizing the miracles we are given, we are living under a cloud. Pray for its removal. A great part of our freedom is in our increasing ability to just listen, just read, and just observe. We all get to choose whether we want to add something to our living and thinking, wait a while, or simply decline the matter at hand for the present.

It is our freedom of spirit to be able to do this Making good decisions based upon principal driven thinking allows us a freedom of spirit we only dreamed was possible. This freedom of spirit is a great treasure in itself. How They are different from the old pathways grown up laden with past pain and despair, pathways that got smaller and more confining as our addiction progressed. Open mindedness allows us to move from life’s restraints and into today’s possibilities. Today, We can entertain new viewpoints and ideas when they come up. We can search for new information and apply it to help make our spirit happier. Open-mindedness is willingness put into action. It is a way of growing.

Part of the miracle of personality change comes clear to us when in the midst of learning how to do something new,. We find ourselves snapping out of some unpleasant feeling carried over from our using days. New understandings help us see past these painful memories and allow us to explore the present. Another important thing about genuine open-mindedness is being able to hold ourselves in check when we need time to think something through. We keep doing whatever works for us until the new idea proves itself on some feeling level. We can progress steadily. We no longer need to flee the present. Some of our members sit quietly, pray, and meditate. Through meditation, answers to seemingly unfixable problems have been presented to members who are open minded enough to believe in our literature.

An The old NA saying, "If it ain't practical, it ain't spiritual," reminds us to keep our recovery real. As we have less guilt about ourselves, we have less need for elaborate efforts to make up for our past wrongs. We can avail ourselves of use common good judgment and check out our ideas with our sponsor. In matters of real concern to us, we can seek help through NA in many ways.

If we are upset, emotional, or overly concerned about anything, we learn to suspend action, pray, and seek out a member who understands our situation and has personal experience to share with us. It is through our surrender, our faith, and our inventory, that we are able to grow. At many points in recovery, we need to remember these things because we are going to gain the appearance of power over our lives and the lives of others. When we start feeling like we have all the answers, we limit our ability to stay open-minded thus restraining our ability to grow spiritually. We must practice surrender on a daily basis. Ongoing surrender is ongoing recovery.

If we cannot remain open-minded and teachable, we will find ourselves stagnating and reverting to the games of manipulation and control. There is a difference between discipline and control. Control deadens because ift offers no choice. and The lack of flexibility in our lives has us giving the same negative response to every situation we experience. Our lack of ability to experience new situations as a result of staying open minded turns our dreams into reality quicker than the one track robotic approach that has been limiting new opportunities in life and killing our spirits. having a say in our lives is killing to our spirits.

Discipline allows us to cultivate our lives by exploring the meanings of words like: Training, moderation, restraint, concentration, caution and forbearance. We are free to avoid the excesses that lead to much of our pain and guilt. We can develop habits of conduct and methods of preparing ourselves before we get into something instead of floundering from one crisis to another. Caution and discretion will become functional parts of our living rather than elaborate over-reactions to the ordinary events of life. Taking care of our body, helps our mind to settle down and function properly. When the mind takes care of the body, the body chemistry works. When the body is working, it helps the mind.

As order and balance replace the desperation that gave us the desire for recovery in the first place, open-mindedness takes on another important function. We use openness as a form of enlivening our daily awareness. There is always something happening and yet if we are not open to happiness, we'll walk out the door on some sunny day and see nothing but rain clouds. Our addiction will stell us that our hard won ease and comfort is boring and uneventful! Many of us never think of going to the library, walking in the park, taking a nice drive, or visiting the sick or going to see relatives - just to say hi! Sometimes we have to make a written list to remind ourselves of new things we can do. Then, we have to overcome all the 'important' reasons to put off doing them! God, it's enough to make you call your sponsor! If we forget some of the things we should do to stay open-minded, we can always seek our sponsor’s help. We need to remember to look at the way our sponsor is living and do the things they do if we want to have the things they have.

We need to must be as able as a newcomer to renew our spirituality on a daily basis. We have to find things to be glad about and express our gratitude for it to have a real effect in our lives. We have to practice being happy. We have to find our errors and amend them to prevent the build up of negative feelings that if left unattended, will fill us with foreboding and worry. We have to step out on faith and do something new occasionally. These things weren't necessary in a life filled with compulsion and obsession. Our disease kept us running. Clean, we have to learn how to be sensible and explore living on a new basis open to the new possibilities that life has to offer. When we remain open-minded, we remain ready for opportunities that improve our spiritual condition and allow us the freedom to continue on our journey into a new way of life.


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Reprinted from the 
Narcotics Anonymous Way of Life, 
Traditions War: a pathway to peace,
The Spirit of NA 
or NA Twenty Plus

being edited on this site.

Copyright © December 1998
Victor Hugo Sewell, Jr.

NA Foundation Group
6685 Bobby John Road Atlanta, GA 30349 USA


All rights reserved. This draft may be copied by members of Narcotics Anonymous for the purpose of writing input for future drafts, enhancing the recovery of NA members and for the general welfare of the Narcotics Anonymous Fellowship as a whole. The use of an individual name is simply a registration requirement of the Library of Congress and not a departure from the spirit or letter of the Pledge, Preface or Introduction of this book. Any reproduction by individuals or organizations outside the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous is prohibited. Any reproduction of this document for personal or corporate monetary gain is prohibited.