How Do I Spot My Character Defects?

Someone asked this question on my Character Defects page.

Michael R

I recently completed my 5th step with my sponsor.As I look at step six “We were entirely ready to have God remove these defect of character.” I hit a roadblock.What is a defect of character? ,and how do I identify mine? Every one of those list I have.Can you suggest anything that I can do to help me spot my own D of C ? I don’t feel I should use others hard work and I don’t want to cheat myself of the opportunity to grow in this valuable step.Thank you. Mike R.

If you’ve done a 5th Step then you’ve done a 4th Step.  You can take any list of character defects (like my list) and see which defects were active in which situations that caused you trouble.  Most defects on any list relate back to fear and selfish self-centeredness.  The reason I made my list and why I like it is that it defines self-centeredness in many ways and helps me recognize it in its many forms.

If you have every defect on the list (and I think we all do have every one to some degree) I suggest you take them one at a time and pay special attention to that one for a day or a week or so.  That’s what I intend to do though I frequently slack.

When I experience an excess of negative emotion (page 88 in the 12 and 12) I know that my character defects are operating.  If I possibly can, I stop and think about what’s going on with me.  Is my pride hurting?  Did I not get something I want?  Am I afraid of something?  In this way I come to spot my character defects quickly and try to deal with them constructively.

Back to the original question.  I believe that the essence of Step Six is an acknowledgement that I am willing to work to change myself.  What’s wrong with me was spelled out in the 4th Step and shared in the 5th Step.  Those things were in the past though of course the character defects still operate now.  To me, to say I’m “entirely ready” is to say that I won’t ignore my shortcomings any more.  I won’t justify them and I won’t feed them.  I’m ready to have God remove them, and God will give me tools to do it and people and situations to practice on.

I like to relate things back to my “oldtimer” condition.  It’s been a very long time since I did my first 4th Step, and since then I’ve done it two more times.  When I did it again, I did the entire thing, not just focusing on one area of my life like some people do when they do subsequent inventories.  Of course the times I chose to do them were times of turmoil for me.  I’m really glad I did them and I imagine that if I live long enough I’ll do yet another.

Daily, for myself, I aim to keep an eye on character defects and diminish them further when I can.  The way I spot them is by taking things that upset me and applying the list.  This is the ongoing Step 10 daily inventory.

Also, I’m lucky enough to have several people in my life who don’t mind pointing them out to me.  But that’s another post.

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