In 12-step fellowships, there’s an idea of confronting personality flaws; step 6 is, “[We] were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.” The idea is that traits like selfishness, resentment, or envy poison your thinking and can lead to addictive behaviors.
The Term “Character Defects” Might Be Complicated for Some
To me, this is complicated. Many people find this exercise beneficial, and it furthers their recovery. Part of my own recovery has been about divorcing from the idea that there is something inherently wrong with me. I know I am not alone in this—several of my sober friends have said the same.
Perhaps it’s because some of us are LGBTQIA; it might be because some of us were pathologized from a young age; perhaps it’s because, as kids, many of us struggled more than our peers did. Like anything, it’s likely a combination, and different for each of us.
Whatever the reason, recovery has been an empowering process of realizing that I am strong and capable. Believing there is something irrevocably wrong with you keeps you stuck and paralyzed. That lack of self-worth often contributes to addiction. The idea behind character defects is useful in many ways, but I struggle against the implications of the term—at least for me personally.
Building Self-Awareness is Beneficial
That said, it’s very useful to take an honest inventory of your challenges and the things you need to work on. In fact, I think self-awareness is crucial for recovery. I’ve built it through therapy; many people find it in working the 12 steps; a good number of people do both. This is self-work, but someone else’s perspective can help you see things more clearly.
In cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), you learn to identify and interrupt negative thought patterns. The idea is that thoughts ultimately lead to behaviors. In that way, the foundation of CBT is similar to that of character defects in 12-step programs. You identify and change destructive thought patterns to help create healthier habits.
Everyone’s Recovery is Different
Like everything else in recovery, what works for one person may not work for another. In your own recovery, you get to decide what’s useful and what’s not. Remember that things can feel hard without being wrong for you. Much of the work in recovery is challenging, but be on the lookout for things that help you grow.
If you are struggling with addiction or a mental health disorder, there is hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for substance use and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you find a recovery program that works for you and build a great sober life. To learn more, call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.