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RECOVERY ATTITUDES

A LOOK AT OUR CHARACTER DEFECTS
Whenever a major disaster strikes the land, the time comes when an important official, such as a governor or president, boards an airplane so that they might survey the exact nature and extent of the damage. The same is true for us. In order for us to heal we need to conduct our own type of “fly-over” so that we might objectively learn about the extent of the damage in our lives. If we are to improve, we must look at some of the more common defects of character that impact our addictive and compulsive behaviors. We do this so that we might learn more about the exact nature of our wrongs; and, by doing so, become entirely ready to have God remove them. Just as we lived lives of denial about our addictions, we now must face that we have lived in denial about our character defects. If we wish to become whole, we must understand that it is just as important to understand our defects of character as our addictions! Character defects lead to compulsive behaviors and perpetuate them indefinitely. Unless we are willing to identify and work on our character defects, we are doomed to repeat our addictive cycles. In this series of lessons we will examine the defects of selfishness, anger and rage, resentment, entitlement, perfectionism, rebellion, procrastination and dishonesty. While there are many other defects that could be studied, our purpose is to get us thinking about some of the more common attributes that trip up most of us. We’ll conclude this series by offering some useful advice on overcoming our character defects.

PART 1, OVERVIEW Character Defect Check List* (A List of Things I Might Need to Work On) Acceptance Aggression Alibis Anger Arrogance Avarice Belligerence Closed-mindedness Courage Dependency Entitlement Envy Faith Fear Forgiveness Grandiosity Gratitude Greed Guilt Honesty Humility Impatience Intolerance Jealousy Laziness Loneliness Lust Perfectionism Possessiveness Pride Procrastination Profanity Punctuality Rebellion Responsibility Resentment Self-Centeredness Selfishness Sexual Infidelity Stubbornness Willfulness Willingness

*Copyright © 2004 by The Steps Foundation (www.stepsfoundation.com) 1. Look at the list and circle 10 of the defects you most recognize. 2. From your list of ten, narrow your list to the top five defects you think deserve the most attention for you. 3. Briefly describe what each of these defects has cost you over the years.

PART 2, SELFISHNESS DEFINITION: Selfishness is acting in a way that disregards our obligations to others. It’s behaving in a way that disregards the consequences of our behaviors on others. It’s a willingness to do anything to satisfy our personal whims. When we are selfish, we seek to glorify ourselves, put our ambitions before others, ignore the rights of others and constantly evaluate what is good according to the benefit it brings us. Our selfishness dehumanizes others and makes them feel used and less than valuable. The bible offers a three-fold cure for selfishness: God first, others second, treat others as you want to be treated. 1. Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. I Corinthians 10:31 2. Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves. Romans 12:10 3. Do to others what you want them to do to you. Matthew 7:12 A very good way to work on ridding ourselves of selfishness is to practice Other Centered Communication. We do this by talking very little about ourselves and listening—really listening-to the things that others tell us while doing our best to focus upon their wants and needs. Other ways of practicing Other Centered Communication includes: 1. Keeping in mind our desire to make a meaningful connection with others with no thought of reward or benefit, 2. Asking others about their lives instead of beginning a conversation by talking about ourselves, 3. Avoiding interruptions or behaviors that show impatience when listening, 4. Avoiding talking about our personal lives unless asked—and even then very sparingly, 5. Avoiding the temptation to turn the conversation back to ourselves, 6. Avoiding “autobiographical” references (i.e. “Oh yeah, that reminds me when I did such and such..”), 7. Avoiding trivial disagreements and the need to be right in our discussions. 8. Avoiding communication that promotes fear, guilt, shame, blame, coercion, threat, justification or punishment. 9. Being willing to affirm as well as give credit and praise whenever possible, 10. Our willingness to avoid making judgmental statements (Avoid “you statements.”). 1. As you read the definition of selfishness, which aspect gives you the most trouble? 2. List three selfish acts that you have been guilty of this past week. 3. Which three things in the Other Centered Communication list bothers you most when others communicate with you? 4. Which things listed above are you most guilty of? 5.

PART 3, ANGER AND RAGE The purpose of this section is to learn two helpful principles for handling our anger and rage based upon teachings presented by The Peacemakers. (www.peacemaker.net) The first principle is based upon an understanding of the Slippery Slope. As the chart below indicates, there are two extreme ways of handling conflict in our lives. We can either engage in escape or attack responses—neither of which are effective ways of dealing with our conflicts. For many of us, these are the only two response we know. What we must learn to do is make peacemaking choices—those responses found in the middle. Study each of them for a moment.

1. Describe a time when you should have used the peacemaking response of Overlooking. 2. Describe a time when you should have used the peacemaking response of Reconciliation. 3. Describe a time when you should have used the peacemaking response of Negotiation. 4. Describe a time when you should have used the peacemaking response of Mediation (seeking advice from an emotionally healthy outside third party). 5. Describe a time when you should have used the peacemaking response of Arbitration (seeking an outside expert whose decision will be considered as binding). 6. Describe a time when you should have used the peacemaking response of Accountability (having someone hold you accountable for keeping your agreements).

The second peacemaking principle is known as the PAUSE Principle. The following information is taken from the peacemaking site at www.peacemaking.net. Even when you manage to resolve personal offenses through confession and forgiveness, you may still need to deal with substantive issues, which may involve money, property, or the exercise of certain rights. These issues should not be swept under the carpet or automatically passed to a higher authority. Instead, they should be negotiated in a biblically faithful manner. As a general rule, you should try to negotiate substantive issues in a cooperative manner rather than a competitive manner. In other words, instead of aggressively pursuing your own interests and letting others look out for themselves, you should deliberately look for solutions that are beneficial to everyone involved. As the Apostle Paul put it, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Phil. 2:3-4; see Matt. 22:39; 1 Cor. 13:5; Matt. 7:12). A biblical approach to negotiation may be summarized in five basic steps, which we refer to as the PAUSE Principle: Prepare (pray, get the facts, seek godly counsel, develop options) Affirm relationships (show genuine concern and respect for others) Understand interests (identify others' concerns, desires, needs, limitations, or fears) Search for creative solutions (prayerful brainstorming) Evaluate options objectively and reasonably (evaluate, don't argue) If you have never used this approach to negotiation before, it will take time and practice (and sometimes advice from others) to become proficient at it. But it is well worth the effort, because learning the PAUSE principle will help you not only to resolve your present dispute but also to negotiate more effectively in all areas of your life. 1. Describe how you might apply the PAUSE principle to some situation—either past or present.

PART 4, RESENTMENT The primary reason why we resent others is because we feel we have been victimized by them. It’s a normal and natural feeling to avoid those who have hurt us; but, like so many things, we can go overboard if we allow our emotions to get the better of us. In fact, it’s entirely possible that our negative emotions can cause more harm to ourselves and others than the original harm that was done to us. At some point, we must come to understand that we only cause ourselves additional harm and suffering if we hold on to anger, nurse grudges, or seek avenues of revenge. The only way out of our misery is to begin the process of peacemaking—even with those who have done unspeakable harm to us. Here is an overview of the process. 1. We make a list of people who’ve harmed us. 2. We admit the pain that they have caused us without making excuses for their behavior or offering quick forgiveness. If we feel hurt, we allow ourselves to feel it. 3. In prayer, we ask God to forgive us for relying upon our negative emotions to sooth us instead of him. 4. We affirm that God says he is the only one who is to avenge our wrongs. 5. Reminding ourselves that God has forgiven us for harms that we have caused ourselves and others, we realize we must begin the journey of forgiveness. 6. We ask that God make us ready and bring us to a point where this will be possible—if not now, then at some future point. 7. We admit to the futility of holding on to resentments because it keeps us in pain and causes us to act out as a form of self-medication. 8. We realize that forgiveness is a process that takes time, but we commit to stay in the process as long as it takes so that we may become whole. 9. We remind ourselves that resentful attitudes serve only to isolate us while reconciliation leads to wholeness and loving community. 10. We allow God to guide us into healthy ways of living and relating. _________________________________________________________  Write the name of a person you need to begin the process described above.

PART 5, ENTITLEMENT Entitlement is a “something for nothing attitude.” You can spot an entitlement attitude when you hear someone saying words and phrases like these: “They owe me,” “You’d think that so and so would do such and such,” or “I deserve this or that.” Entitlement is a form of control where we have the egocentric expectation that people should treat us in certain ways because of: who we think we are; the important things we believe we have done; or because of things we have done for others. It is the idea that material things should be ours for the same reasons. At its worst, an entitlement attitude takes the form of criminal behavior such as shoplifting, stealing or the illegally downloading of music and videos we haven’t purchased. Other examples of entitlement attitudes include unreasonable expectations that we “should”: 1. receive yearly raises regardless of the shape of the economy or what we have done, 2. receive raises at work, or perhaps get good grades in school, not because of the quality of our work, but because, in our mind, we’ve worked very hard, 3. always be treated with kindness and respect from others, 4. expect others to always be polite, 5. receive good service in every circumstance, 6. expect others to be appreciative because we have done something for them, 7. never expect that a bad things will happen to us when we work hard or do what we’ve been told, 8. expect that others will overlook our deficiencies and mistakes, 9. expect that others will accept our apologies and amends when we say we are sorry, and 10. receive help or sympathy from the government or others whenever we are going through a rough time in our life. Doubtless, many other things could be listed. 1. 2. 3. 4. List five examples from your life where you felt a sense of entitlement. List five reasons why an entitlement attitude is not helpful for our recovery. Which three of the items listed above are the biggest entitlement gremlins in your life? Take the entitlement quiz on the next page.

ENTITLEMENT QUIZ Please answer the questions below using the following scale:
1 Strongly Disagree 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly Agree

Do not spend too much time on any one item. Also please respond in terms of how you really feel as opposed to how you think you should feel. Try to avoid using the neutral response if possible.
_____ 1. _____ 2. _____ 3. _____ 4. _____ 5. _____ 6. _____ 7. _____ 8. _____ 9. _____ 10. _____ 11. _____ 12. _____ 13. _____ 14. _____ 15. I deserve respect from others. I demand good service in a restaurant. My closest friends owe me loyalty. I expect fairness from others. I'm owed a good-paying job for my abilities. People should treat me the way I treat them. When I do something nice for someone, I expect them to do something nice for me I deserve a "thank you" when I hold a door open for someone or let someone ahead of me in traffic. People should listen to what I have to say. I often feel "owed" for things I have done. Other people have told me I expect too much. All in all, I deserve a good life. I am entitled to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." I find myself getting angry inside when others don't do things for me they said they would. My children owe me cooperation and obedience for all the sacrifices I have made for them.

Add all of the numbers of your fifteen responses, then divide that total by fifteen. The number you are left with will show you on the scale how convinced you are that you are "entitled" to certain things.

If you score from one to four, you really are not expecting much from other people in the way of gratitude, approval, and response. As such, you probably won't be disappointed in life when such responses aren't forthcoming. If you score from five to seven, you are probably a person who is carrying a lot of internal anger over the fact that not enough people give you what you feel entitled to. If this is the case, you need to readjust your expectations. You need to remind yourself that you are "owed" nothing for all you do and that people have the perfect freedom to fly in the face of what you want. You need to remember that the challenge is to do things for people because it's healthy or mature or "right", not because you can earn "green stamps" that you can cash in whenever you want. Painful as it is, you are not entitled. Don't let that truth get too far away from you in life. The preceding excerpt is from a book called "The Truths We Must Believe" by Dr. Chris Thurman.

PART 6, PERFECTIONISM
Perfectionism is a character flaw that keeps us from trying our best because we have a fear of failure.  As far as your recovery is concerned, what people or things are you most afraid of failing?

Perfectionism is the all or nothing attitude that despises the process of recovery and expects a quick fix instead of slow and steady progress.  How does the statement above apply to your present life situation?

A perfectionist has a hard time giving or receiving compliments—because in their minds, there is always something that could be improved.  How would others describe your ability to give and receive compliments?

Perfectionism takes away our optimism and spirit of adventure to try something different and new.  Would others describe you as optimistic and adventuresome? Why or why not?

Perfectionism stifles our ability to make progress in recovery and makes those around us feel that whatever they do isn’t ever good enough for us.  Think of three times where you may have communicated to another that what they did for us was not good enough. 1. 2. 3. Perfectionism takes the joy out of living as we endlessly critique the things that we and others have done that aren’t as they should be. It’s the critical nature we resort to when things don’t happen as we expect.  What five people or things that you find yourself constantly criticizing—out loud or in your mind? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Philip Yancey says, "There is nothing we can do to make God love us more and there is nothing we can do to make God love us less."  How does this statement above apply to your present life situation?

PART 7, REBELLION AND AUTHORITY Rebellion is our resistance, or unwillingness, to follow legitimate laws and/or allow others to exert legitimate authority over us. Rebellion is an attitude that we know what is best for ourselves and that we are a law unto ourselves.
 Do you show resentment towards authority through complaints or sarcasm? In what ways have disobeyed legitimate authority?

God created families and tells children that they should honor their father and mother. Later he instructs husbands and wives to submit to one another.
 In what ways have you fallen short of obeying these commands?

God created governments and has given them the authority to make laws—even those which we think are silly.
 How should we show respect for laws and governments that we disagree with?

He has created officials and rulers to enforce and judge those who break the laws—and we are to be accountable to them.
 List three things we can say or do to show a Godly attitude towards those who rule and enforce the law?

God has created work and expects us to provide quality service for the pay we receive.
 List three things we can say or do to show a Godly attitude towards those who oversee our daily work?

God created spiritual laws that impact the way we live our daily lives as well as church authorities—such as pastors and church leaders—are expected to oversee those whom they serve.
 List three things we can say or do to show a Godly attitude towards those who are expected to oversee our spiritual lives?

Character defects are the consequences that result when we deny the legitimate authority that God has placed in our lives.
 What defects of character in your life can you trace back to rebellion to authority? See if you can think of at least three.

PART 8, PROCRASTINATION Question: How do you eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Question: How does one reach the goal of a recovered life? Answer: Do the next right thing, then the next right thing, then the next right thing… Procrastination is all the things we do and don’t do that cause us to be sidetracked from the good things that God has in store for us.  What fun things sidetrack you from doing what ought to be done?

What dysfunctional things sidetrack you from doing what ought to be done?

Procrastination is mistakenly based in the idea that we’ll do the right thing tomorrow.  In your life, what negative consequences resulted from this attitude?

When we procrastinate, we delay seeking help for our hurts and habits.  In what areas of your life have you delayed seeking help?

We need to replace procrastination with an attitude of “Do it Now!” For each item below, describe a step you could take to improve your life.       Health Education Achievement at Work Improving a relationship Overcoming a bad habit or attitude Growing spiritually

PART 9, DISHONESTY Addiction and lying go hand in hand. Dishonesty becomes our second nature. Because we are ashamed of what we’ve been doing, we lie when others ask us about our behaviors and we go to great lengths to cover our tracks. Because we feel certain that the consequences of our actions could cost us greatly (i.e. loss of a job, divorce, loss of respect, etc.) we become experts at living a double life—until one day it all crashes in upon us. Perhaps the worst lies we tell are those that we tell ourselves. Some of these include: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. No one will ever know, What people don’t know won’t hurt them, I’m not really so sick, an addict, etc., I’m not hurting anybody but myself, I’m going to do this one last time.

The danger of all of this is that lying becomes second nature to us after a while. If we persist, we become constitutionally unable to tell the truth on a consistent basis and we’ll begin to lie about other things in our lives as well. We’ll find that we lie--even when telling the truth would have no negative consequence. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. What kinds of things did you do to hide your addiction? How were you dishonest in word and deed? Who did you lie to? What were the lies you told? Did you lie when it didn't even matter to your consequences? Were you in a habit of lying?

Now that you are in recovery, 1. What are you still being dishonest about? 2. Who are you lying to? 3. Are you being dishonest about the effects of the disease on your life and the lives of significant others? 4. Are you being dishonest with yourself and/or others about the damage caused by your disease?
An excellent article to read is Guide to Eliminating Deception and Dishonesty - How to Get Real in Addiction Recovery by Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D.

http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/guide_to_eliminating_deception_and_dishonesty_how_to_get_real _in_addiction_recovery.html (underscores between each word)

PART 10, ENTIRELY READY Sample Termination Letter
from www.prodigalsonline.com

This is an exercise we have found to be both thought provoking and fun. We will write a termination letter to a selected character defect. It may be one that we have studied or one of your choosing. The purpose of this exercise is to examine the relationship we have had with our individual character defects and compare their "job performance" with the new character we have discovered in Jesus. In previous steps we examined our character defects and have come to grips with the work our defects have done for us. Beside the cost of wages, that we give our character defects in the form of time, energy and emotional attention, there are the hidden costs all employers must be aware of. The hidden costs of insurance, vacation and the impact the employee will have as it interacts with other employees. As you write this termination letter, ask yourself these questions: 1. What has this character defect done for me? 2. Has this character defect given me what I wanted from it? Has it gotten me what it promised to get me when I asked it to help me? 3. Am I getting good value for the wages I pay this character defect? Is the benefit I get from this character defect worth the time and energy I give it? 4. If this character defect was a person standing in front of me, asking for a raise, would they get it? Would I give it more time and attention? 5. What are the hidden costs I incur because of this character defect? 6. Am I proud to be associated with this character defect? Am I OK comfortable being seen in public with this character defect? 7. Since I do a lot of work at home, does this character defect get along with my family? Is he someone that my family likes and gets along with? If not, is the work my defect does for me outweigh the cost my family pays? When we are able to look honestly at our character defect we see what they have cost us in all areas of our lives. With this righteous indignation in our hearts we sit down and write a letter describing why we hired our character defect in the first place, what it "did" for us and what it cost us. Then we introduce it to the new character trait we have hired to replace it, giving examples from our lives of what our new character employee has done for us. And why the old character defects services will no longer be needed. Have fun, tell your character defects off, and have security throw them out of your office. Then get back to work with the rest of your questionable character employees. Let them know their days are numbered. And don't forget to do a frequent office walk through to see if they have snuck back in to cause problems with the other workers. Remember they have the office keys.