While doing my Step Four personal inventory work, I started to see how the difficult emotions I experienced could be powerful triggers for my addictions. As emotions are triggers, character defects are the building blocks of addiction, and self-centeredness is the cement which holds the addicted nature together within me. So, finding the freedom to recover and live in a way that was healthy long-term was impossible without removing these addicted structural components from me.
I know today how my character defects started innocently when I was a child. They were my means of survival. I learned to manipulate to get my needs met. I lied to protect myself. I hid my emotions to avoid embarrassment and shame. I rationalized to escape ugly truths which were too much for me to handle. My character defects were really nothing more than broken and ineffective tools I used for coping and control. They were my methods of minimizing pain, and diffusing perceived threats. They were my strategy to care for myself when I believed that no one else would. At times I feared what life would be like for me without my character defects. When I felt that a character defect — like my lying — was necessary to survive, I would mourn the thought of having it removed from me. Fortunately, my sponsor and counselor and recovery partners helped me see how fearing the loss of one of my coping mechanisms was understandable, but it was also critically important for me to grieve these personal losses without complaint so I could move on down the path of my recovery.
I knew I had made the decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God daily and, as I did this, the self-centered cement holding my addictions together began to slowly erode. There was little I could do to avoid the difficult emotions I felt. They came and went like the wind. All I could do was recognize them and speak honestly about them to a trusted recovery partner or spiritual guide. And while I could make the decision cognitively to get rid of the addicted building blocks of my character defects, my best efforts seemed to actually reinforce them. So, like everything else in my life, I turned them over to God, asking Him to remove them in a way that fit His plan for my life. Then I began doing whatever I could to live without them in the future.
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