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A New Year's Resolution - Other's Rights and Your Responsibility  

We all make resolutions this time of year. What are you going to do
differently this year? If you don't change something, chances are you
will get the same results you have been getting with your life. You
know the old Alcoholic Anonymous definition of Insanity: Doing the same
thing over and over, expecting different results. I have an offer for
you. Make a New Year's Resolution to change one character flaw and I
will give you some simple steps that will help.
Why Change? If you change your character you will have a profound
impact on you personal destiny. You know that. It's just common
sense. But changing a flaw into a virtue can be frustrating, so let me
help you.
Before you get started, you'll need to modify a common attitude that
will insure your success in this quest for better character - Take the
focus off your rights this year. For the past fifty years, Americans
have been obsessed with "Rights." There are rights groups for
everything. I am not asking you to give up belonging to any of those
groups but with your personal life I suggest you focus on your
responsibilities not your rights. You can still respect other peoples
rights, but for this year long exercise in character development focus
on your responsibility while you work on a specific flaw. You
understand that you can't change other people. They often choose to
behave strangely. They usually have deep seated needs that drive them
to keep their flaws. Work on your own, even if you start to recognize
that what you are doing for yourself would be beneficial to your
partner, friend, spouse or child. You can't push a rope, so change
yourself first. Your character will be the golden chord that pulls
others along with you.
You have a responsibility to change your character. No one can do it
for you. So lets get going. And again let me caution you. If you
start to notice the ten most common flaws in other people, work on
yourself. Others are really difficult to change.
Here is an encapsulation of the process. First pick a flaw, any flaw
that you have. It might be "addicted to being right," "self pity, "or
"dishonesty," whatever it is that is a chronic problem with you. Write
it down. I usually caution people to write it down in a place that is
safe from prying eyes, but if you are like me, you wear your character
flaws on you sleeve. Everyone else knows what your big flaws are.
Don't worry even if someone finds what you have written it will come as
no surprise. It may surprise them that you made a resolution to change
or better yet to release the flaw. Our friends accept us, flaws and
all. Often those who know us for a very long time give up hope that we
will try to change. That's okay. Their hope isn't going to change you.

The next step is to make a decision to become willing to let the flaw
go. Did you get that? It sounded strange to me when I read it. Make a
decision to become willing. I am not asking you to give up the flaw.
You and I most probably couldn't figure out how to let it go anyhow.
Just be willing to. Willingness is a very humbling task. It will bring
you in touch with all sorts of truths about yourself. First of all you
will have to confront whether you really are willing to let it go. Even
if you are you will be faced with that gnawing feeling that you are
letting go of a friend.
Character Flaws are friends? Did I just write that? Yes, and for some
of us they are best friends. Watch anyone who compulsively lies. He is
probably using dishonesty to feel in control and protected. When you
decide to release a flaw, you will be directly confronted with a
belief. What do you believe gives you the right to use that flaw?
Face it, we use our flaws because we believe we have a right to. We may
say it is our nature, or we were born that way; or we may say it is
something we learned from our childhood. Whatever we blame for teaching
us the belief doesn't matter. What really matters is that you recognize
that there is a belief down deep that says we have a right to our
character flaws. It is protecting a need that I have.
What are the basic needs that the character flaw is protecting? Here
they are in a nutshell: Belonging or the need to be loved; Fun or the
need for some variety in life; Acceptance or the need for approval; and
finally freedom or the need for security. You can call them by other
names if you like. It doesn't matter, but chances are excellent that
you believe that the flaw is protecting one of those needs.
What is the first step to letting it go? This is the simple part,
because you can put anything down. Just focus on willingness to do it.
Something will happen to test you. Life is like that. Make a decision
to let go of a flaw and life will provide the opportunity.
Decide what is the virtue that would balance or replace the flaw. You
can't stuff a virtue into yourself. You have to create a little vacuum
that draws it out. Release the flaw and then use the virtue in it's
place. Something remarkable will happen. The flaw will be temporarily
gone and the virtue will fill the need you had. It's temporary, but all
you have to do is remain willing and life will offer you more
opportunity.
So what was the flaw you were willing to release? Have you written it
down? What did you believe gave you the right to use that flaw? What
needs did that belief fulfill? What virtue can replace that flaw?
Finally you will discover a new belief that you can adopt, that will
allow you to use that virtue and take care of that need. It's simple if
you work it. Have a Joyful New Year. May your family be healthy and
prosperous and may your change in character bring great rewards to you
and your loved ones.


 

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