Confronting Character Defects in Addiction Recovery

We will give you the support and guidance you need to get started on the road of long-term recovery.

Get Help with Addiction Treatment

Step 6

“We were entirely ready to have a higher power remove all these defects of character”

Step Six Summarized

Utilizing the self-knowledge we gained by completing Steps Four & Five, we make a list of the character defects in ourselves that are hindering our growth. These “defects of character” could be old beliefs that aren’t working (for example: “I’m incapable of love,” or “I’m not good enough” or “People will always let you down”),  or they could be personality defects such as being quick to anger, being judgemental or envious, being a perfectionist or a procrastinator, or holding too high of expectations of others. These defects are the blocks standing in the way of our ability to experience the love, relationships and life we want. Until we can clearly see these blocks, we cannot change. Some of our character defects have certain payoffs for us. For instance, perhaps our defect of self-righteous anger gives us a sense of superiority and importance. Or our defect of procrastination allows us to avoid the hard tasks and enjoy immediate gratification rather than work. Giving up these defects might be a difficult sacrifice. In Step Six, we get entirely ready and willing to let these defects go.
Into the Steps by Guardian Recovery is a series of articles that dives into each one of the 12 Steps, which have been shown to be a highly effective treatment for addiction.

Into the Steps

Into the Steps is a series of articles that dives deep into each of the 12 Steps. While Guardian Recovery is not affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous, we have been utilizing the 12-Step process in a treatment setting for more than 15 years. We have found that the steps, especially in combination with our clinical therapy offerings, are a powerful tool for  helping individuals transform their lives and find lasting freedom from addiction. 

It is highly encouraged that you do not attempt to take these steps alone, but rather with a trusted guide called a sponsor who can walk you through them and be your support. Or, you can come work them at a Guardian Recovery treatment program. Unlike many other treatment centers, we don’t just teach individuals about the steps, we actively work them. Find a facility here.

Steps 4-5 Recap

In Step Four we made a searching and fearless inventory of our lives. We reviewed all the people and situations in our lives that caused us resentment, fear, pain and remorse. We analyzed them carefully and saw our part in each scenario. In Step Five, we shared this inventory with a trusted friend who listened to us, supported us and helped us see new perspectives. In going through this process, we gained a new level of clarity on how our choices, beliefs and character traits contributed to our troubles. We begin to see our flaws clearly.

Step Six Explained

Human beings are innately flawed — no matter how hard we try to be “perfect,” we will always grapple with some personal issues that encourage us to continue working towards self-betterment. When it comes to addiction recovery, we spend ample time identifying our “character defects” — not so we can stew in self-pity and wonder why we are so horribly defective, but so we can make a conscious effort to improve ourselves, therefore improving our overall quality of life. It is important to understand the distinction between “character defects” and simple imperfections or mistakes. While an imperfection might include something like spending too long getting ready in the morning and a mistake might include forgetting to take out the trash every Tuesday, a “character defect” is more severe and self-destructive. These flaws often negatively impact others. It is a persistent behavioral issue that compromises your ability to progress and grow in your personal program of recovery. These shortcomings must be thoroughly identified and addressed; if they are not, you might find that you have a difficult time staying sober long-term.

What is a Character Defect?

Examples of common character defects include:

  • Anger and Hatred
  • Selfishness and self-centeredness
  • Being dishonest and lying regularly
  • Defensiveness
  • Constantly playing the victim
  • Blaming self and others
  • Antagonistic
  • Close-mindedness
  • Codependence
  • Being judgmental towards others
  • Self-loathing
  • Being overly critical
  • Overly apologetic
  • Perfectionism
  • Resentment
  • Arrogance and over-confidence
  • Being dishonest
  • Impatience
  • Laziness and a persistent lack of motivation
  • Irresponsibility
  • Failure to fulfill personal obligations and take care of responsibilities
  • Intolerance
  • Being overly critical of self/self-deprication
  • Preoccupation with physical appearance
  • Stubbornness
  • Selfishness
  • Too Much Pride
  • Jealousy
  • Taking things too seriously
  • Consistently reacting to situations with aggression and anger
  • Actively avoiding confrontation
  • Being controlling of others

These are only several examples, personal character defects vary on an individual basis. Over time, as you work through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, you will hone in on your own personal – and significantly more specific – imperfections. For example, you might find that your version of “reacting to situations with aggression and anger” comes out in the form of road rage. You might find that “playing the victim” comes to the surface whenever you are feeling under the weather. Whatever you discover about yourself, the important thing is that you become willing to overcome these defects of character and work through them without placing unrealistic expectations on yourself. This is called “taking a moral inventory,” which means looking deeply and sincerely at yourself, areas that need improvement in your own life and the way you interact with the world around you.

When we ask to have our defects removed, it does not mean we expect all our character defects to be lifted out of us immediately. A few of them may be, but with most of them we shall have to be content with patient improvement. The words “entirely ready” underline the fact that we want to aim at the very best we know or can learn. This is essentially to say that no one who is in recovery is expected to effectively shed all of their defects as soon as they identify them. Addiction recovery is a process — one that involves a life-long journey of self-discovery and immense personal growth.

Building Awareness

There are numerous ways to build awareness surrounding your own personal character defects.

Ways to build awareness include:

  • Becoming willing to address your flaws and imperfections head-on – It can be difficult to take an honest and fearless look at yourself and the areas of your life that need improvement. However, once you become willing to work towards self-betterment no matter how hard that might be, you open up doors you never deemed imaginable.
  • Fully engaging in the 12-Step method of addiction recovery – While Guardian Recovery provides an in-depth introduction to Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and includes stepwork and 12-Step meeting attendance in every individual treatment plan, it is up to clients to continue on in AA or NA once they complete clinical care. Staying engaged in a 12-Step program helps individuals successfully avoid relapse for years to come.
  • Congratulating yourself on even the “smallest” of successes – Say one of your main character flaws is laziness. In order to combat this lack of motivation, you start making your bed every day and cooking yourself breakfast in order to get the morning started on the right foot. You should be congratulating yourself every morning you get up and get moving – every accomplishment is worth celebrating!
  • Writing a journal– Progress is a process. Keeping a log of your day-to-day is a great way to identify common themes and things you tell yourself, exposing things you need to work on. Looking back on your journal can also help you realize the progress you’ve made.
  • Meditation and self awareness – Building awareness of how the mind directly affects your thoughts and behavior can teach you how to identify negative and self-destructive behaviors.

Guardian Recovery & the Sixth Step

Learning to change our negative thinking patterns, behaviors and attitudes is strenuous work. Sometimes we don’t have all the tools we need to change our thoughts and actions. Sometimes we need extra help. At Guardian Recovery, we utilize a powerful combination of 12-Step immersion and therapy to help individuals truly change. The therapeutic techniques we use — which include cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy — are proven techniques to help individuals stabilize their moods, change their thought patterns and shift their behaviors. These techniques, in combination with seeking the help of our Higher Power, can be very effective. If you feel you or a loved one might benefit from therapy while going through the Steps in a structured, supportive and professional environment, you might consider treatment at a Guardian Recovery facility. While we are not affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous in any way, our programs have utilized the 12-Step recovery process for more than 15 years. At our facilities we don’t just teach you about the Steps. We actively take you through them. While in residential inpatient and partial hospitalization treatment, individuals generally complete Steps 1-7. However, many individuals continue on in our Intensive Outpatient Programs during which they finish all 12 Steps. Throughout every phase, individuals participate in extensive therapy with licensed therapists. To learn more about Guardian Recovery’s facilities, contact us today. Our team of compassionate Treatment Advisors are available 24/7 to help you craft a plan for your recovery. Freedom from addiction is possible. Find hope at Guardian Recovery.

Integrated, Holistic Care

At Guardian Recovery we believe in taking an integrated approach to addiction treatment, meaning that we simultaneously focus on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing. We take a “whole person” approach to recovery, which allows for the development of vital relapse prevention and life skills. Clients learn how to work through uncomfortable feelings and emotions and engage in self-care as they navigate early recovery and transition back into independent living. To learn more about our integrated approach to recovery, or to learn more about the importance of mindfulness and meditation, contact us today.

Get Started Now
Give us a call 24/7

(888) 693-1872

Get Local Help

Helpful, Recovery

Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

More About Author
Guardian Recovery

Check Insurance Coverage

Find out today what options are available to you. Fill out the form below.

Do it for YOU, Do it for LOVED ones

Live a BRIGHTER Future Today!

Guardian Recovery is here to assist you in your journey of healing.

Do it for YOU, Do it for LOVED ones

Live a BRIGHTER Future Today!

Guardian Recovery is here to assist you in your journey of healing.

Do it for YOU, Do it for LOVED ones

Contact Alumni Services Today!

Guardian Recovery is here to assist you in your journey of healing after coming to one of our facilities.

Your Name

Stay in touch ALUMNI

Join our alumni newsletter to get up to date information on events, news, and more.


Personalize Your Experience

Allow us to guide you to the information your looking for.

Begin HEALING Today

Check Insurance Coverage

Find out today what options are available to you. Fill out the form below.

Do it for YOU, Do it for LOVED ones

24/7 Help: (888) 693-1872