step six: character defects

I just finished the writing portion of my 6th step, we were entire ready to have god remove all these defects of character.

I mentioned in my last post that being angry means I am human, it doesn’t mean I am a violent human. This made me think about how human I really am, and writing about my character defects helped me realize that further.

Here is a list of the character defects I am aware of today: self-righteousness, fear, self-centeredness, dishonesty, procrastination, self-pity, codependent, judgmental, people pleasing, entitled, perfectionist, poor communication, manipulation, jealous, controlling, self-loathing, undisciplined, negative body image, insecure, impulsive, irresponsible, unreliable, materialistic, and financially irresponsible.

I bet I could take this list to 100 random people, and they would relate to at least five, if not all, of these defects. OF COURSE I deal with entitlement and unreliability. I’ve been through some shitty stuff and sometimes I convince myself that it means people/the world owe me things. I like hanging out with my cat more than I like hanging out with most people (not because I don’t like people, but because I fear them), so sometimes I bail on commitments I’ve made. All of these behaviors are understandable. That doesn’t mean they are excusable, but they definitely don’t mean I should die, which is something I used to believe when people would tell me my “challenges”.

While working this step, I found myself trying to be hard on myself for being so defected. But I couldn’t be hard on myself, because all this list pointed to was how human I am. I realized that when I say I have character defects, what I really mean is that I indulge in some behaviors that are not productive or authentic to my true self. And that’s okay! Of course, I do feel uncomfortable when I act on manipulation or self-centeredness, because that’s not who I really am, it’s a survival tactic I learned so that I can control situations because I fear that I will get hurt if I do not have control. It’s not my authentic self, and it is not fair to others. So, each day, I can pray for the desire to act on these behaviors to be lifted.

Let me be clear, this doesn’t mean that I believe a big white male in the sky is going to take away these defects. When I pray, I get to a place of stillness and oneness with the universe. In that moment, I set my intentions and I ask my divine self to be truly authentic. I ask for the ability to let go of my own will, and to give in to the will of the universe as a whole. This can be difficult to do when I am broke and I really want a new pair of shoes, but the freedom it gives me is so powerful that it’s worth not having a new pair of shoes.

Being myself, instead of who I think others want me to be is so freeing because I don’t have to think so hard about every word I say. When I say something out of place or I share too much I can say to myself, “oh, there I go, being very myself again,” instead of thinking that other people must think I am an unacceptable person and I better choose every word carefully from now on.

When I find myself acting on my desire to control situations (this usually happens when others are late or others are the reason I am late) I think of what Eckhart Tolle would do. He would just sit and wait and appreciate a moment to be still.

I wont go through each behavior to talk about what I would do instead, because I did that in my step work and it’s nearly 100 pages long. But you get the idea. There are things I can do instead of act on these behaviors that are more productive, loving, and true to myself.

I just texted two of my friends in recovery because I am worried that you all will think that this post sounds like I am being self-righteous, so they are going to tell me if that is true. And if it is, I am going to apologize for writing a self-righteous post.

 

 

no more cigarettes #5

30 days, no cigarettes!

I’m still relatively dramatic about how sad it is that I am not smoking anymore. I really want people to feel bad for me, like it’s such a tragedy that I’m missing out on this great coping skill.

My e-cigarette gets me through the cravings, but it doesn’t give me the same relief that smoking a cigarette does. When I’m stressed out, puffing on my e-cig is not enough. I turned to nicotine for that relief for eleven years. So, now I have to find that relief in other ways, which has been an interesting journey.

I learned a very cool anger expression exercise where I scribble on paper or cardboard like crazy until I break through the paper/cardboard or I break the marker I’m using. I definitely recommend this for moments of anger.

After expressing anger in this way, I have found that anger might be sadness or fear, but it’s also just anger. I get over anger by expressing the anger more than expressing the sadness. Expressing sadness is important, but I’m already good at that.

I had been telling myself for months that anger is not actually an emotion. The word “anger” brings up memories of screaming and violence and that’s not who I want to be. ever. I am finding some peace knowing that just because I feel anger about something doesn’t mean I am a violent person. It means I am a human. I’ll continue this conversation in my next post about character defects.

For now, I will keep coping in other ways than indulging my self-pity over drags off a cigarette. Also, I am going to lower my nicotine dosage in my e-cig from 16 to 12 today.