Character defects are something that we all suffer from. Whether it is lying, stealing, cheating, or defects more innocuous like sloth or overspending, not a single human being on this planet escapes having a defect or two to contend with. They are a part of being human. They are what separate us from unachievable perfection, and they are what keep us striving to do better.
However, as much as all of us suffer from character defects, people who are in the throes of their addiction seem to have more than their fair share. It’s almost as if addiction is a character defect machine that brings out the worst in people and then amplifies the character defects by 1,000. Lying becomes pathological, stealing becomes burglary, and assaults on character become assassinations designed to destroy the person on the other end. Addiction, as ugly as it can be simply because of what it is, is made all the more uglier by the introduction of character defects run rampant and out of control.
Yet, when a person gets sober, many of these character defects are kept at bay. For the most part the lying subsides, the stealing relents, and the cheating all but disappears. This is because of the work that a sober person puts in towards their recovery and the self-discovery that occurs in Steps 4 through 7, but even with that said, character defects do not just up and vanish entirely.
I think that sometimes we get the wrong idea about character defects when we enter recovery. I know for myself, I honestly believed that when I did my 6th and 7th Step I was going to just be freed from all of my defects of character. This may sound crazy, but I really believed it. Since the rest of the Steps worked so perfectly I genuinely believed once I was done with 6 and 7, I was going to be struck lily white and would no longer suffer from the things that had plagued me for so long. Needless to say, that didn’t occur, and while over the past few years many things have been removed from me, many character defects still remain.
Looking at it now, I guess this is to be expected because no man or woman, regardless of how good they are, can be completely freed from the parts of their character that they find objectionable. No matter how much of a spiritual life they live, there will always be some cause for envy, jealousy, or even the possible lie or two. It is just what it means to be human and in fact, I have found that by accepting the fact that I will have character defects, it has actually helped in their elimination. By understanding that from time to time I will act out, it has removed some of the taboo from it, and taken away some of my subconscious desire to engage in my defects of character.
15 Character Defects That Will Come Out in Sobriety
Like stated above, you will experience some of your ‘old’ defects of character while in sobriety. This is nothing to be ashamed of or even anything to really worry about because it is just a fact of nature and something to be expected.
While some of the defects I am going to list do have the possibility of taking a person back out, I have found that it is usually not the defect that causes this, but the person’s inability to deal with a certain situation that crops up continually in their life.
For instance, lust, in and of itself, usually does not cause a person to relapse, but when a person continuously avoids being alone, or uses others as a means to mask a sense of spiritual loneliness, they run the risk of using again because the are avoiding a part of themselves and not dealing with the issues at hand.
For the sake of time and to avoid explaining things that we all already know, I am just going to list the 15 defects that are bound to come up in recovery and then discuss a little bit more about what these things mean.
What To Do If Defects Crop Up
The reality is that none of us really want to live in our defects. We do not like the guilt and shame that we experience when these things rise to the surface, especially once we are self-aware enough to know what they are. So we are always looking for a way to get rid of the defects and move past them.
For some of the things listed above, like lying and stealing, the solution is fairly easy; just stop doing them. If you find that you lie a lot, try to really think before you open your mouth. I know this is what I had to do when I was first getting sober. I genuinely didn’t speak unless I could be sure that what was coming out of my mouth was true, and the same thing goes for stealing. If you liked to steal a lot when you were using, then be conscious of this fact and don’t put yourself in situations where you are going to be tempted to steal. If you can’t afford it, save up for it, and you will find that your life dramatically improves.
For a lot of the other defects on this list, they will seemingly come out of nowhere and seem to be uncontrollable at times. Since this is the case, the only thing you can really do is just pray and try to do the best you can. If you are a very controlling person and if you find it difficult to stop doing that, then pray and really try to focus on what you can do to change this pattern.
Having defects of character removed is never really easy and in the end, we will never truly be free from them, but with continual effort and continual trial and error, their reemergence will becomes fewer and far between.