Character Challenges: The New Improved 6th Step

RHN_CharacterChallengesI’ve always had a hard time with the language in the 6th step, regarding identifying “character defects.”  I like the words, “character challenges.”  I believe defects implies that you’re somehow defected or damaged goods.  I believe we all have quirks and areas we’re challenged by.  It’s important to become aware of these behaviors and accept certain parts of ourselves.  You can learn how to manage or change the challenges you face.  It starts with awareness.

Character challenges are mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual, and it can get in the way of relationships, personal growth and development.   The first step in identifying our character challenges is the act of awareness.  You get to look at your side of the street.  What are the behaviors that get in the way of you being close to others?  Are there thoughts and behaviors that keep you from growing?  What are they?  Be specific.

It’s hard for people to become aware and admit problem areas, because you like to avoid things that bring you pain, sadness or anger.  Looking at areas you need to improve can often leave you judging yourself.  “I can’t change if I’m not aware.”  “If I judge myself when I’m aware, I create a barrier to change,” you might say to yourself.  The key would be to practice awareness without judgement.  To normalize, we all have things we’re not proud of.  Being aware of your deficits gives you the ability to improve.

Once aware of your challenges, you must acknowledge these behaviors when they surface.  “ we go again.”  “I see it happening right now.”  The ability to recognize when these behaviors surface in your life is empowering.  Knowledge is power.  To admit to yourself and others is a vulnerable position that brings great strength.  When you admit to your imperfection, you look human.  People relate to you and empathize, because they may have been there too.

Once recognized you need a skill to help you through the situation.  Having new skills will help you change or manage this behavior, which will ultimately create a shift in your life allowing you to obtain your goals.  These three tasks can change your life:  awareness of challenges, admitting and acknowledging when challenges are in rare form, and lastly to have new coping skills to manage or change the behavior…creating a new and improved you.


Elana Clark-Faler
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