Dealing with Character Flaws in Recovery
All Humans Are Flawed
Humans are obviously not perfect; everyone will have their flaws and weaknesses. It is only when these imperfections lead to suffering that there is a real cause for concern. Most people will have many minor character defects, and a few major ones. It will be these major flaws that will cause them the most problems in life.
It is necessary that recovering addicts puts a bit of effort into removing their more serious character defects. They will not be expected to fix everything overnight, but a continual effort to develop as a human is required. Those who fail to deal with their major character flaws will find that this prevents them from finding true happiness in sobriety – they become a dry drunk. It could even be a trigger for a return to substance abuse.
Character Flaw Defined
A flaw is defined as any type of imperfection. It could be described as anything that gets in the way of something being perfect. A character flaw then refers to any type of imperfection in the way people think or behave. These imperfections can also be referred to as defects of character.
The Most Common Character Flaws
The imperfections that people are most likely to struggle with include:
* Judging others
* Taking things too seriously
* Overly critical
People will differ in the extent to which they have these character defects. For example, most will individuals will experience a bit of jealousy from time to time. For other people this emotion may have an impact on their life and relationships.
Identifying Character Flaws as Part of the 12 Steps
The 12 Steps offers a program for people hoping to build a successful recovery. Step six states that that the individual reaches a stage where they were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. This does not mean that the member has to instantly become perfect; only that they are willing for this to happen. In order to successfully follow the 12 step path, the individual needs to be regularly take an inventory of their own personal failings. They will then have to work hard to combat these defects of character.
The Aim is Progress and Not Perfection
When people become sober they are not expected to turn instantly into saints. In fact they are likely to become even more aware of their imperfections. This is because addition allows the individual to hide from their character flaws When people first become sober they may be alarmed to find that they have many imperfections. This is normal, and it is actually a good sign. It does not mean that recovery is causing any type of deterioration; only that they can now see things more clearly. The benefit of being able to notice character flaws is that it makes it easier to chip away with them.
There is no expectation that the individual will be able to remove every one of their character flaws. If they do somehow manage to do this then that would be wonderful, but it is not going to be a realistic aim for most people. The aim is progress and not perfection. All that is required is that people keep trying to overcome the worst of these imperfections.
Acceptance of Character Defects
It is people’s quirks and foibles that make them unique. Minor character flaws may sometimes be the cause of annoyance, but they tend to be generally harmless. It is probably best to reach a degree of acceptance with these minor imperfections; after all, nobody is perfect. It is only when character flaws are causing pain for the individual or other people that they really need to be dealt with.
Pain is the Touchstone of Recovery
It is often suggested by recovery experts that pain is the touchstone of recovery. What this means is that people will generally not make changes in their life unless things become uncomfortable. It is this discomfort that drives the individual to face their character flaws; people become so fed up with their imperfections bringing them into conflict with the world that they are motivated to tackle them. Progress in recovery occurs as people face each of these challenges and overcome them.
The Dangers of Ignoring Character Flaws
If people keep on doing the same thing they will keep on getting the same results. Here are some of main dangers of ignoring character flaws:
* Character flaws get in the way of progress. If people are not prepared to overcome them it may mean that they stop making progress in recovery. This is dangerous because it leads to dissatisfaction and relapse.
* True happiness only occurs when people are comfortable in their own skin. Eradicating character flaws is not about wanting to become a goody two-shoes. The real reason for doing it is that it means less stress in life and improved mental well-being.
* These character flaws will cause other people to suffer. Family, friends, and work colleagues are likely to already have suffered a too much during the years of addiction. It is not fair that they should continue to suffer once the individual has become sober.
* The goal of many individuals in recovery is to reach a stage known as serenity. This is a state where they will feel at peace most of the time. When problems arise they will intuitively know how to handle them. In order for people to attain the desirable state of serenity they need to be willing to deal with their character flaws.
How to Deal with Character Flaws
Here are a few suggestions for how people can deal with their defects of character:
* It is vital that people develop a willingness to deal with these imperfections. Without such willingness there can be no progress.
* Journaling is a useful tool for identifying and tracking defects of character. Progress usually occurs slowly, and this makes it hard for people to appreciate their accomplishments. It can be highly satisfying for the individual to read back on their journal and realize that they no longer engage in certain negative behaviors.
* Meditation is a useful tool for anyone hoping to eradicate defects of character. It allows people to have a better awareness of how the mind impacts their thoughts and behavior. It makes it easier to spot self-destructive habits and patterns.
* Identifying even small progress is highly beneficial for people. It builds their sense of self-efficacy; the belief that they can change their patterns of behavior. Cynics claim that a leopard never changes its spots, but by observing change the individual will be able to see that his is not true. It will increase their confidence to make further changes in the future.
* Some people find that membership of a 12 Step program makes it easier deal with character flaws. Just attending the meetings is probably not enough; the individual will have to actually practice the 12 Steps.
* Those individuals who follow a spiritual path will usually find that this involves facing and overcoming character defects.