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Attraction rather than promotion
When I first arrived at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, I wasn’t aware that I was looking for a new way to live. What I had arrived at in my mind was that the way I was living wasn’t working anymore. I felt like I had run out of options but wasn’t prepared to make many changes yet. Life appeared hopeless. Narcotics Anonymous did not seem to be much of a solution for me in the beginning. People were friendly and inclusive, so I kept coming back, but my eye was searching for a prize that I did not yet understand. There were a lot of different personalities and ideas about what recovery could, should, or would look like. I saw people share their experiences, strengths and hopes that were foreign to me. As a newcomer, I learned a lot more from what I saw more than what I heard. I found the constant ranting about gratitude was unattractive as people seemed more concerned with themselves. Gratitude has been a source of discomfort for me for many years because people promoted lifestyles that I found unattractive. I remained silent for years until recently when I became aware of the source of my own discomfort and the reasons behind it. Tradition 11 in NA states “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.” I have spent considerable time recently exploring this idea of “attraction rather than promotion”. I did find one interesting definition that intrigued me as I sat down to write this article and that was “promotion involves making promises of results.”
Step 11 of most 12 step programs says, “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” I remember clearly when doing my step 3 that decision of turning my will and my life over to the higher power of my choosing, and then doing step 11 to build on that decision. The act of living step 3, and then focusing my efforts on improving that contact pushes me to practice spiritual principles in all my affairs. I question some of the experiences I have in my life since I got clean and how this could be attractive. I make a very good living, own a home and enjoy many luxuries, but is this attractive in a society that seems more focused on wealth and materialism ahead of basic human needs? Does the suffering addict arriving at the doors of Narcotics Anonymous see my success as attractive? There are phrases in the Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text (Grey book, “Step 11”) that point to attraction;
The Tenth Step clears the errors of the present so we may work this step. Without this step, it is unlikely that we could ever experience a spiritual awakening, be able to practice spiritual principles in our lives, or carry a sufficient message to attract others to recovery.
We have found that our spiritual condition is the basis for a successful recovery that offers unlimited growth.
My self-obsessed thinking immediately turns to my circumstances when I read this. My experience in Narcotics Anonymous tells me that growth also applies to the Fellowship. Tradition 1 asks us to link our personal recovery with the unity of our Fellowship. In fact, our tradition 1 specifically states that ‘personal recovery depends on unity’.
If they can identify with us and if they want what we have to offer them, they may join us. This is attraction. We never promise anything other than a chance to stop using if they want to. This is all we really have to offer and to make any other promise would distract from our primary purpose.
Identification and offerings are the attraction. Another word for identification is empathy. My experiences are that when I practice spiritual principles in all my affairs, then I struggle with self-will. I have often heard at meetings that my will and God’s will are not always the same thing. Those struggles allow me to connect with other addicts even if our lives are completely different and if I am willing to share with others. The empathy of the newcomer for my dilemma seems to be part of the attraction. Healthy bonds come from mutual respect. When my life is content, and I have fully appreciated the grace of my higher power, I find my thoughts turn to those around me. By attending regularly, I’m able to help others when they ask for support. My abundance is available when I am generous of spirit. My life is bound to those around me when I am apart of. No where is that more evident than when I am supporting a Narcotics Anonymous group. My group or ‘home group’ meets regularly and we offer a single meeting a week to help carry the message to other addicts. Sometimes my home group works with other groups to further our purpose of carrying a message to the still suffering addict.
Basic Text (Grey book, chapter 4, ‘How it works’) “There is one thing more than anything else that will defeat us in our recovery; this is an attitude of indifference or intolerance toward spiritual principles.”
Indifference and intolerance look like dishonesty and self-deception to me. Again, the experiences of other addicts help me. Narcotics Anonymous, IP No. 6 “Recovery and Relapse”, says;
By the same token we have observed some members who remain abstinent for long periods of time whose dishonesty and self-deceit still prevent them from enjoying complete recovery and acceptance within society.
By practicing living with spiritual principles in all aspects of my life, the disease of addiction shows itself daily. There is no respite from disease, and we describe addiction as an incurable disease. The application of spiritual principles and the struggles I share create bonds with other addicts. By meeting regularly, we help each other stay clean.
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