Humans are flawed by default. At the very least, each of us has several minor character flaws and a few major ones. For most people, our major flaws will cause the most trouble. When our imperfections start to negatively affect ourselves or other people, that’s cause for concern.
It’s critical for those in recovery to address their more major character flaws, but learning how to handle them isn’t something you can learn in a day. Those who don’t address their character flaws often find that they can’t experience real happiness in sobriety and become what’s known in the 12-step program community as a “dry drunk:” someone who no longer drinks alcohol or uses drugs, but behaves in many ways as if they are still in the midst of addiction.
Confronting character flaws takes a lot of work, but it’s something that ultimately bolsters your recovery.
What Is a Character Flaw?
A character flaw, or character defect, is any type of imperfection in the way a person thinks or behaves. Some of the most common types of character flaws include:
- Being judgmental.
- Being overly critical.
Of course, everyone will experience a bit of jealousy or be a little judgmental from time to time. But for some people, these emotions are something much bigger and start to affect their relationships and lives.
Character Flaws and 12-Step Recovery
Step 6 of the 12-Step program states that “We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.” But this step does not mean that you have to become perfect–you just have to be ready and willing for it happen. Step 6 requires you to take stock of your shortcomings and actively work on replacing these character defects with healthier behaviors.
Addiction enables you to hide from your character flaws, so when a person becomes sober, they may be surprised to learn that they have a few of them. This is normal, and it’s a good thing. In recovery, there is no expectation that you should be able to get rid of each character flaw. It’s just not realistic. Progress is what’s important–not perfection. Working through the 12 steps will help you build self-awareness, so it’s easier to understand your character flaws and improve your well-being.
How to Handle Character Flaws in Recovery
If you do keep doing the same thing, you’re going to keep getting the same results. Character flaws can hinder your progress in recovery. If you ignore them, it can cause dissatisfaction, which could lead to relapse.
There are a few things you can do to build awareness:
- Be willing. You have to be accepting of your character flaws and willing to deal with them.
- Journal. Progress is a process. Keeping a log of your day-to-day is a great way to identify common themes and things you tell yourself, exposing things you need to work on. Looking back on your journal can also help you realize the progress you’ve made.
- Meditate. Building awareness of how the mind directly affects your thoughts and behavior can teach you how to identify negative and self-destructive behaviors.
- Practice the 12 steps. For many people, attending 12-step meetings isn’t enough. You actually have to learn how to live the 12 steps and put them into practice every day.
- Celebrate the small stuff. Any amount of progress, however small, is still progress. Recognizing even the most minor improvements builds self-efficacy and helps you understand that you’re capable of making change.
Overcoming character flaws isn’t about wanting to be perfect. It’s about wanting to deal with less stress, feel happier and be comfortable with who you are–and that’s true happiness. For more information about how Immersion Recovery Center’s 12-step approach can help you overcome addiction and recreate the life you’ve always wanted, contact us at 561.419.3349.