All humans have character flaws, so it would be unreasonable to expect you to become some type of perfect individual just because you are sober. The aim in recovery is always progress rather than perfection, but there are some behaviours that have the potential to derail your new life if you are not careful. Here are just some of the character flaws that you may need to deal with right away in order to protect your sobriety.
1. Anger and Resentment
If you find it hard to manage your anger, it could easily end up costing you your recovery. This is because by losing control, you are unable to make good decisions – and anger usually means a loss of control. It is also vital that you let go of the anger that you have about stuff that happened in the past. If you are finding it too difficult to manage your emotions, this may mean that you need the assistance of a therapist or that you need to attend some anger management classes. If you started drinking or using drugs at an early age then you may have failed to pick up effective tools for managing anger, so you need to do this now.
It is human nature to want to defend your ego, but the problem with defensiveness is that it can stop you from learning from what others have to say. It can also make it harder for you to develop good relationships with other people. A good strategy is to use the ‘principle of charity’; this means that you try to always assume the best motivation for why the person is saying something to you (rather than just believing that they are ‘having a go at you’). Remember how it was with addiction denial – the fact that you are so defensive may mean that you really need to listen to what is being said.
Arrogance is often a sign of low self-esteem as well as a type of defensiveness. This way of behaving can alienate other people and make it almost impossible for you to learn. In order to start progressing in recovery, you need to develop humility. Never be afraid to admit that you do not know something and realise that others can only help you if you admit that there is a problem.
Being a bit sceptical is actually a good thing as it means you question things rather than just take them at face value. This is not the same as cynicism. If you are cynical about recovery, it means that you are at risk of dismissing stuff that could really benefit your new life. Cynicism is a type of stinking thinking that easily leads you back to addiction.
One of the things you need to know about recovery is that you tend to be as sick as your secrets. The only way to get the help you need is to completely open up in an honest way. If you are being deceitful, it can easily lead to dry drunk syndrome. This is where you are technically sober but still act as if you were in the midst of addiction.
If you expect things to turn out badly, you can actually create the conditions that cause the bad stuff to happen – this is referred to as a self-fulfilling prophecy. By developing a more optimist view of your future, it will give your motivation a real boost so that you are in then in a better position to make the good stuff happen. You do not have to believe in the ‘law of attraction’ in order to understand that being positive can have an incredible impact on your opportunities in life.
7. Demand Resistance
If you tend to react to any new suggestions by saying ‘no’, it is likely to mean that you are dealing with demand resistance. This habit can develop in childhood if you felt there were unrealistic demands being placed on you, so you started to rebel against these demands. In order to recover you need to start saying ‘yes’ a lot more in your life; the good news is that this can be a new habit that you can develop so that it becomes natural.