A patient came to my office because she was upset
that someone was named
a saint by the Catholic Church. As a child she
knew the women and
didn't like her. Once she had seen a character
flaw in that saint.
Years later, she was still angry about it.
Sinners and saints all have
character flaws. Some are much worse than others.
These flaws tend to
aggravate us. You recognize them in others.
Character can be defined as that blend of virtues
and flaws that make up
your moral fiber. My personal view is that
character is the robe of
qualities, both good and bad, that your soul
wears as it presents itself
to the world. We judge a person's character by
the flaws that we see.
Flaws make a personality colorful. We all have
them and we vicariously
enjoy another person's struggle with them
So when I tell you that everyone has character
flaws, you aren't too
surprised. If I told you that it is not
necessarily bad however that we
have our flaws, you might think that peculiar. So
let me ask your
patience before hand, though if impatience is one
of your flaws it might
You, and everybody you know have some flaws. They
seem to be
tenaciously ingrained in our being. They tend to
stay with us for our
entire lives. Psychologists and Psychiatrists
believe character can't
be changed because it is the substrata of
personality and far too deep.
They are partially correct. For centuries,
however, development of
character has been utmost in the minds of
educators. Today it is
self-esteem. (Yawn) How standards have been
lowered. When you do
those things that are consistent with your
virtues - those things you
esteem - self-esteem takes care of itself.
Character flaws have traditionally been seen as
the key to discovering
your self potential. Each and every flaw that
creates havoc in your
life is the key to uncovering which virtue you
must work on in order to
discover you full potential.
Everybody has certain character traits that they
are born with. If you
have raised even one child you know that to be
true. Freud and his turn
of the century colleagues, though well
intentioned, mistakenly believed
we came in "Tabula Rasa." That means
"clean slate," empty. They
believed that nurturing molded one's personality.
But we humans aren't
In the East, Vedantic philosophy talks of
Samskars or ingrained traits
that are carry-overs from past lives. These
Samskars color one's
character. They are the deep issues that carry
the "Big" karmic
Western society, being scientific, believes in
the idea that some of our
traits are biologically programmed in. Simply
speaking, you were born
with it. It is your nature. These character
traits then are by
definition relatively impossible to change. So
character seems to be
looked at as a relatively static mix of good and
bad traits that make up
your moral fiber. For millennia though, both East
and West have dealt
with the issue of these almost intractable
negative character traits.
Changing character has been a priority since the
dawn of civilization.
In order to change these flaws, you need to know
what they are and how
they effect you.
What does a flaw look like? I address this issue
thoroughly in my
upcoming book, Flawless! - Your top ten character
flaws and what to do
about them. Let me give you a quick preview. Do
you know anyone who is
addicted to being right? You probably know more
than one. It is the
most common of all character flaws. How about a
person who is
chronically dishonest? You probably watch the
same politicians as I do,
who would rather stand on their heads to lie when
they could more easily
sit down and be honest. They go the extra mile to
deceive, not because
they choose too, but because they are compelled
to. Character flaws are
experienced as compelling. That doesn't let any
one off the hook.
Do you know anyone who becomes quickly enraged? I
call that flaw
"Raging Indignation." You might be able
to get away with it if you are
a dictator somewhere, but unfortunately most
people who have it are
lucky to be someone else's boss. What about
Inadequacy? Have you ever
noticed that some people use inadequacy as an
excuse for everything.
"Don't blame me. I'm inadequate and don't
want any responsibility,"
they say to the Blamers and Resentful. Blame is
another common flaw.
The list goes on and on. I will outline ten major
flaws for you over
the coming weeks. Hopefully you will get the idea
that you have one or
two of them already. Or better yet, you will come
to realize that the
flaw has you and it is time to do something about
There are ample reasons for trying to change a
flaw. Don't buy the
excuse that character can't be changed. God can
change anything, even
your character if you are willing. As I identify
flaws this winter - or
better yet as you identify a flaw or two within
your character - become
willing to change. Life will provide the lessons
to teach you how to
let go of the flaw. I will give you some
guidelines, and guidance for
dealing with them.
If you recognize that you came into this world as
an imperfect being ,
become willing to acknowledge that imperfection
and see what happens.
You can change your character. Usually it takes
something profound. We
call these character building events. For some it
is a trauma or an
emotional bottom, for others an event of unusual
joy. Regardless of
what it takes for you, remember that changing
even one flaw into a
virtue will literally change your destiny.