Character Building

“But in other instances only the closest scrutiny will reveal what our true motives were. There are cases where our ancient enemy, rationalization, has stepped in and has justified conduct which was really wrong. The temptation here is to imagine that we had good motives and reasons when we really didn’t. We ‘constructively criticized’ someone who needed it, when our real motive was to win a useless argument. Or, the person concerned not being present; we thought we were helping others to understand him, when in actuality our true motive was to feel superior by pulling him down. We sometimes hurt those we love because they need to be ‘taught a lesson,’ when we really want to punish. We were depressed and complained we felt bad, when in fact we were mainly asking for sympathy and attention. This odd trait of mind and emotion, this perverse wish to hide a bad motive underneath a good one, permeates human affairs from top to bottom. This subtle and elusive kind of self-righteousness can underlie the smallest act or thought. Learning daily to spot, admit, and correct these flaws is the essence of character-building and good living. An honest regret for harms done, a genuine gratitude for blessings received, and a willingness to try for better things tomorrow will be the permanent assets we shall seek.”

-from the chapter on Step Ten from the AA Twelve and Twelve.

Putting What We Learn Into Practice

Most of us at some point and time both during the height of our using, and even after receiving addiction treatment, have had a hard time taking care of ourselves and the relationships we have had with others. Many of us know all too well what it’s like to sacrifice doing the healthy and right thing in order to continue feeling okay in the moment. This leads to the punishing, and harmful cycles it talks about in the excerpt above. If we do not get help, and we remain spiritually sick, then we will continue these behaviors as well as continue rationalizing them. Through a drug addiction detox, AA or 30-90 day rehab facilities we can begin to learn how to take care of ourselves and live an honest life.

It is through this as well as continuing to strive for personal growth that we can begin to heal and become happily and usefully whole.

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