I recently produced a podcast on this very topic. We all have them, character defects. Transforming the emotional and spiritual realms requires a critical analysis and inventory of one’s thoughts and actions. That takes some getting used to doing but it is important work.
In my former life as an active alcoholic, I was a most excellent judge of the character defects in others. For myself, not so much. The reason is that it is very difficult to turn a critical eye on one’s own deficiencies in character.
Standing in the full light of truth leaves one psychologically naked, the ego fully exposed. In the addict or alcoholic, character defects are used as a means to a self-indulgent end or as a weapon of justification for self-will run riot. It is not hard to see the connections between the actions of the addict and a listing of their character defects. They are always on full display.
Here is a brief listing of some: conceit, arrogance, intolerance, insincerity, resentment, dishonesty, envy, selfishness, indifference, vengefulness, gluttony, disrespect, irreverence, aggressiveness, faultfinding, manipulative, self-pity, guilt, procrastination, impatience, greed, irresponsibility, fear, anger, cowardice, possessiveness, false-pride, discourtesy, hopelessness, pessimism, bitterness, procrastination, lying. There are others, of course. They are all self-reinforcing. Do any of these sound familiar?
All of us, addicted or not, recovering or not, can cop to many or all of these defects at one time or another. For the active addict, these defects are the activities of daily living. For meaningful recovery to take root, all of an addicts character defects must be acknowledged before they can be adequately addressed. This requires more than just a few minutes of thought.
It’s a process that begins in any 12-Step program of recovery with Step-4 and continues through Step-6. After making a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves (Step-4) we admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs (Step-5) then became entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character (Step-6).
It is a very difficult task but not an insurmountable one. However, it is one that many often skip only to stumble and fall over later. There just is no easier softer way.
After I became fully invested in my own recovery, I began to think with a brain not influenced by alcohol. This is when my Transformation began. I saw the wisdom and benefits of taking a hard introspective survey of the character defects that fueled my addiction. As a result, I no longer allow them to dictate my actions.
I have continued to grow in my program of recovery and have let go of some of my character defects altogether. Others still remain but I feel their influence diminishing over time. In moments of mental, physical, spiritual, or emotional weakness I might revisit some of those defects from time to time. I claim progress not perfection.
It is during those times of hardship, disappointment, mental anguish or pain that I turn to the serenity prayer, the 12-Steps and my recovery community network for support. My choices are no longer dictated by my character defects.
Anyone who’s life is unmanageable for any reason can benefit from eliminating their character defects. Whether you are addicted, in recovery or neither, choosing a better course of action based on your superlatives, not your defects, makes all the difference in outcome.
The steps necessary to eliminate character defects are few in number and easy if employed.
Step#1. Recognize you have them.
Step#2. Use rigorous honesty and take a personal inventory of your character defects.
Step#3. Write them down in a list from the most negative impact to the least negative impact that they have on your life.
Step#4. Become willing to part company with them.
Step#5. With an earnest desire make a promise to yourself that you will try to eliminate them.
Step#6. Start at the top of that list and with all of your might work to eliminate that #1 defect from your inventory. When you are satisfied that you have made a significant positive impact on that character defect then go to the next item on the list.
Step#7. Continue to take personal inventory and apply your efforts wherever they are most needed. This is a process and it will take time but the rewards are great.
You may completely eliminate some character defects, others will be significantly and positively impacted, and others may get resurrected from to time to time. Remember, it is important to be able to claim progress, not perfection.
Do you recognize your character defects? Have you made an honest attempt to eliminate them? How difficult is this for you to do?
Please return soon for another installment in this series on Transformation.