Ambition as a Character Defect

A reader writes:

Hi Lydia,

Thank you so much for sharing this list. What brought me here to read through these character defects is because it’s very hard to not think that my actions are based on my character defects. When I read each of them I can totally relate to each one and it does make me very confused because one of the things that I haven’t been able to manage or figure out if what I am doing it’s okay is my ambition. This is something that when I was acting out, I always acted with ambition regardless how I would get things (by cheating, lying, withholding, manipulating so on) because I needed to be validated and have a sense of superiority. However, when I want now to get back on the high way and get rid of from my depression, victimhood role, inferiority, not good enough, I get all confused because I think that ones again I want to be driven by my ambition and get what I couldn’t get when I was acting out feeling envious of what others are getting while I am the one who suffers and with a stupid idea that my recovery is not helping at all to get back up and get going with my dreams because right away I feel that whatever I am trying to do is because I want to compete,, have a place in society and get what others seem to be getting except me. So it’s very confusing at this stage of my recovery the healthy ambition and the non-healthy one, the one I had but I couldn’t keep up with it because each day it was more difficult to look at myself in the mirror.

Hope you can have some thoughts about this.

Thanks a lot and let’s hanging in there. Hoping that my stepwork is leading me to what I am meant to become.



From the 12 and 12:  Still more wonderful is the feeling that we do not have to be specially distinguished among our fellows in order to be useful and profoundly happy.  Not many of us can be leaders of prominence, nor do we wish to be.  Service, gladly rendered, obligations squarely met, troubles well accepted or solved with God’s help, the knowledge that at home or in the world outside we are partners in a common effort, the well-understood fact that in God’s sight all human beings are important . . . True ambition is not what we thought it was.  True ambition is the deep desire to live usefully and walk humbly under the grace of God.


Healthy ambition, I think, is making an effort to live up to my potential.  The ideal isn’t to feel inferior, of course, and it also isn’t to feel superior.  Some people in AA call it being “right-sized.”


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