“Lighten up” is my mantra for 2017. I tend to take life – and myself – pretty seriously. These days, though, I’m finding myself pretty amused by my imperfections, also known as character defects, thanks to engaging in Step 6. I’m especially humored by how many activities I thought required my involvement which seem to turn out just fine – or good enough — without me. But I’m the only one who knows how these things should be done. Hah! Apparently not.
At first glance, Step 6 sounds painful: “Became entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.” It’s easy to imagine God ripping away my long-cherished ways of behaving and leaving bloody scars behind. Yet, as I become more willing I become to let go of “my way,” I instead feel lighter – even before I complete the remaining Steps. Also, I’m noticing that God has gotten a head start on taking these defects away – without pain!
I’m so smart
Being self-centered is one of my major defects. I want to be noticed and applauded. I want to impress those around me by how smart, accomplished, and wise I am. Impressing people with how hard and fast and brilliantly I work is paramount.
If my ego had its way, I’d have my own little mountaintop holy place where people would come to me for advice, in awe over my elevated state of being. I would gladly tell them how to live their lives (with dedication and hard work done to perfection, as any accomplished workaholic would agree). In addition, I would be happy to take charge of most everything and everyone within range of me.
Do you see why I’m amused? This pretending-to-be-God routine is ridiculous. The closer I examine this self-centeredness while working Step 6, the more bemused I become.
Just answer the questions
In working Step 6, I answered the questions in Workaholics Anonymous Book of Discovery. This book is a companion to Workaholics Anonymous Book of Recovery.
What does this defect do for me? Being self-centered gives me the illusion, and sometimes the reality, of being in control. It soothes my ego with feelings of pride, and I savor the admiration I receive. My take-charge mode also makes things easier and more efficient – sometimes.
What does this defect do to me? Well, it annoys and distances others. In fact, when I get lost in stroking my ego, I tend to ignore or hurt people, then dislike myself for this selfish behavior. I miss out on a lot — the gifts, beauty, and ideas of others. I miss out on the joy of loving. I also live in an illusion; I’m not God, and never will be. Living outside of reality and trying to be God – no wonder I’m exhausted and always feel like I’m falling short.
Like the Wizard of Oz, my self-centered behaviors are all smoke and mirrors. I’m not being authentic. (That’s another character defect I get to look at more closely in Step 6.)
What would serenity look like if my self-centeredness were gone? Not exhibiting and proclaiming brilliance from a mountaintop, that’s for sure. But how about acting with kindness and thoughtfulness, a readiness to learn from and appreciate others, and a relaxed intimacy with people around me? These behaviors are definitely less work than my God impersonation, and they promise a sweeter experience of life.
Am I now ready to have this defect removed? Yes. I wrote, “I am ready to open my heart and mind to the magnificence of others and free my ego from its desperate clinging.”
Listen and let others shine
I got of taste of this change already happening at a party I attended. I forgot my hearing aids, which was a good thing. I had to lean in and listen more attentively. I also made a choice to let someone else have center stage in the conversation, not me. I came to know a beauty and tenderness in this woman, whom I had previously held in disdain. I’m glad God gave me this opportunity to try out a new behavior. My heart gained warmth and my ego got a rest.
Now, on to exploring my inauthenticity with the workbook questions. Could I actually show up just as I am? Maybe I’ll actually have a few laughs as I quit pretending and start playing my real self.
For more information on Workaholics Anonymous and its local meetings, contact Pat S. at 763-560-5199.