It seems that the older we get, the more we are set in our ways. But we never stop developing, it’s just that the rate of change slows. The trick is to steer things in the best direction.
Facing the Challenge
The Twelve Step programme distinguishes between ‘defects of character’ and ‘shortcomings.’ It’s a distinction between cause and effect. The deep-seated problems about who we are lead to more immediate problems in the way we behave day-by-day.
It would be easy to give up at this point, dismissing any possibility of reforming the fundamental nature of our character. And it must be admitted that the influences on our life so far, our genetic make-up and the effect of family, friends and all our environment, have created dispositions, assumptions and attitudes which are going to be hard to change.
But Step 1 led us to commitment. ‘I am powerless over my addiction,’ we admitted, and that, ‘my life is unmanageable.’ And we accepted the challenge: ‘I need to surrender to the belief that recovery is the only way forward, however hard the path.’ There is not much that is harder than re-shaping one’s own character, but it must be done, and we are committed to doing it.
We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
In Step 4 we undertook a moral inventory. We have already looked at how we behave towards family and friends and others and, in doing so, have identified the ‘defects of character’ which threaten recovery. It’s worth reviewing that and making sure the picture is clear.
It’s OK to look out from the flaws we identified in that moral inventory and to list the positive values and virtues that are their opposites. But one of the main reasons people become addicts is to cope with too much negativity in their lives. So rather than sinking into (or maybe indulging in) more self-condemnation, we need to put aside the list of what’s wrong with us and focus on the positive ideals we would like to match.
With help from your guides and sponsors, draw up a list of all the ways in which the perfect character could make life good for you and develop a programme of reflection, meditation and action which will help you become more like the person you would like to be.