Sep 22: Overcoming Character Defects

Overcoming Character Defects

Hi my name is Ruth F and I’m an alcoholic.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to lead this meeting and am glad to know you are here with me. It’s nice to not be alone as we trudge this road of happy destiny.

I have been going through the steps again with my sponsor. We are spending some time on Steps 6 and 7. I realized that I’ve struggled with these steps, which is partly true. Mainly, I think I have glossed over them, said the 7th step prayer, and moved on to Step 8 pretty quickly.

A realization came to me. My discomfort with myself and others is a manifestation of my character defects affecting my behaviors, attitudes, and even my thinking. Normally, I would look out and decide I had a resentment, or fear or something else that would require another 4th step. So, I’d confirm my character defects again but not feel any better.

I have realized through praying to my Higher Power, reading literature, attending meetings, and talking to my sponsor that what’s really happening is that I haven’t taken action on changing/improving my character defects. I’m not working towards the principles of the program as well as I could.

There’s so little information to go by in the Big Book. I tend to do best with specific instructions or guidelines on how to take whatever action is necessary to help me be a better person.

So, my sponsor and I went looking for another resource that worked with AA. We both knew of the book, “Drop the Rock” but neither one of us had ever read it through or studied it. The book addresses Steps 6 and 7.

We are reading it now, which has helped as another tool in my recovery process.

I am learning that there are specific actions I can take. That turning my character defects over and asking that they be removed requires surrendering. It’s been harder for me than in Step 3.

I realize that the bigger character defects are easier to recognize and “work at” removing. It’s the moderate defects, the ones that bubble just below the surface that are harder. Maybe it’s because I’m hanging on to them or it’s easier to brush them aside thinking that they’re not that bad. The problem for me is that they build up. I can only apologize so many times. It becomes empty and meaningless as long as my behaviors don’t change. I either read or heard in a meeting that I judged myself by my thinking while others judged me by my actions. That really affected me.

A higher level of awareness of my character defects is so important if I’m going to grow and change. I can’t keep my blinders on. One thing I’ve learned from studying “Drop the Rock” along with AA, is that I can act “as if” I’m the person I’ve always wanted to be. I can act with generosity instead of selfishness. I can think of others instead of being so self involved. The opportunities to grow keep popping up and I’m amazed when I can actually adjust my attitude, my reaction, or my behavior. That acting “as if” becomes the new me more than the character defects.

It’s not perfection I’m after, just progress. Progress, for me, takes a lot of practice.

I’ve also realized that I am more than my character defects. We all are. Because as I practice being a better person there’s a shift within me. I still can regress but that doesn’t make me bad, it makes me human. I know what I can do about it and not feel trapped.

My character defects may always be with me. I realize now that I do not have to be ruled by them. Their power can lessen rather than dominate my life. I can move forward using all of the tools available to me and with the guidance of my Higher Power become a better person.

I would love to hear how you’ve been using the tools of the program and your Higher Power on character defects. How are you becoming someone more in line with the principles of the program? I look forward to reading your ESH.

Thank you for being there and giving me this opportunity to be of service.

Ruth F.