Welcome to A Nerds Guide to Self Help: A Midlife Personal Development Journey. This week we will be diving into some character building and what it means to have a major character flaw. If you’re new here, welcome. I invite you to look at how all this started in this post. If you’re returning, then I want to say thank you for taking the time to follow along.
Last week we talked about the traps that can befall us in our journey to self-improvement. The main one we focused on was the dreaded Pit of Excuses; how excuses can be damaging for our personal clarity and what steps we can take to disarm them. I set additional daily tasks to carry out for myself over this past week. Focus, which was to use the morning to walk and meditate for at least thirty minutes and Reflect, which was to jot down in a notebook all the good and bad things that happened at the end of each day. Did I succeed? What is a major character flaw? Read on to find out!
Heroic Character Flaw
Eric, the wizard’s hand clutches desperately to a root protruding from the wall of the pit, which just moments before opened up, dropping him toward danger below. His breath rapidly escapes his lungs as he holds out his wand trying to cast its light into the darkness. Tens of feet down he discovers his narrow miss, a set of jagged spikes carved from old rotting wood awaiting victims who would fall into its deadly embrace.
The wizard stares at the spikes, a sudden strange allure flowing up from their pointy peaks. His eyes gloss over and he doesn’t notice his grip on the root beginning to loosen. The pit of excuses, beckons him to let go, give up, stop fighting and succumb to its sweet surrender. A chittering cackle sweeps into his ears from a distance. Failure, the goblin minion entices him to be free of his quest, to live his days in blissful ignorance.
Something suddenly stirs within Eric’s soul, a conflict within his heart. The desire for change outweighs the perils of his quest. He shakes the haze from his head, eyes refocusing and taking in the dangerous spikes awaiting below. The wizard grits his teeth and strengthens his grasp. He points his wand into the side of the root, closing his eyes, focusing on the task at hand. Soft words escape his lips, incantations learned as an apprentice many years ago. The root begins to grow, doubling in size, turning up on itself. It pushes through the stone, twisting, turning, stretching out to carry our hero back to the top of the pit, safely on the opposite side. “The pit of excuses”, he reflects. “A dangerous trap and it won’t be the last time we see it.”
A Step Too Far
Our hero takes a moment to replay the event that just took place. The conflict still stirring within his body bubbles up into anger at himself for almost giving up. How could he consider ever letting go? It took so much for him to take a step through that dungeon door and he’s got such a long way yet to go. He knows what awaits him if he were to turn back. Failure and his poisonous blade. Disorder, the goblin boss is counting on it. It sets his heart on fire even more and his thoughts bring his gaze up to his companions, still on the opposite side of the pit. “What are you waiting for? Let’s go. We have a long journey ahead of us”, he barks.
His companions hesitate. “Come on, let’s go.”, he repeats, but they don’t move. After a long moment, one of them steps forward, a dwarven man, stocky, strong, long flowing hair falling heavy on iron armor. His face a dark complexion, exotic and weathered with concern. He looks to the other companions who nod with encouragement and locks eyes with our hero, an uncomfortable air permeates the space between them. He opens his mouth and speaks.
Time passes and silence follows. Only the sound of distant rock crumbling from the pressure of time. The words hang heavy in the air. Eric struggles. His thoughts betray him. Anger. Hurt. Fear. Remorse. Regret. Betrayal. He can’t believe his ears. Is this some trick of the dungeon? Did those words really come from his companions mouth? Is he under a spell? Almost at the same moment the thoughts occur, he knew it was no trick or spell by the pained look in the faces of his party. A major character flaw exposed. Now, he must face it or be doomed to continue his quest alone.
Characteristics of A Character Flaw
What does it mean to be a person? To be human or elven or dwarven? What does it mean to be flawed? To be imperfect? We’re all flawed and there will come times in our lives when those flaws are exposed for the dirty, ugly truths they are. Yet, our flaws are built into our individuality, they make us human or elven or dwarven. In Dungeons & Dragons we typically pick flaws to add flavor to our characters. Is our hero an alcoholic? Arrogant? Has a gambling problem? These flaws then play into how our heroes makes choices in the challenges they face. In our our own lives, those flaws manifest through experience. We don’t pick and choose our flaws, they form over time.
We are all fallible, corruptible, deceivable; there’s no doubt about that. So flaws will penetrate anyones character given time. It’s what we do when a major flaw is exposed that defines the kind of person we are. The character we are. Can we change? Should we change? What parts do we keep and what parts do we discard? It’s not black or white. It’s a vast many shades of grey.
There’s no doubt that everyone in this world has parts of themselves they don’t like or could improve upon. But, is it because they believe it so, or because others believe it so? We then have to take each exposed character flaw and analyze it, study it, hold it up to a light to get a better look at it. Then we have to ask ourselves how we feel about it, not how someone else feels about it, but how we feel about it. This is an important distinction in personal growth. Someone can express they believe something about you is wrong, but until you believe, it won’t matter. You also have to take into account who told you that. Who are they to tell you how you should or shouldn’t be, because they, like you, are fallible.
Character Flaw Applies to Everyone
No one is perfect, though many like to pretend they are. Everyday people around the world preach from the pulpit of blindness. One of the best things that is coming out of the current movement in America and the world is that people are observing that they have more character flaws than they realized. They are fallible. They don’t have all the answers, don’t know all the facts.
More are now looking inward, many of them for the first time, as to why they do what they do and realizing these flaws need to be addressed. The clear distinction is that it’s not just one individual saying that it’s a flaw, it’s multiple people. If one person expresses their distaste for a part of your personality it’s one thing, but if multiple people expressing their distaste it’s a completely different thing. There are exceptions of course, but that’s another topic for another time.
A Personal Character Flaw Illuminated
A few days ago a friend of mine confronted me and exposed his observation of a major character flaw within me. Accusations were made, argued, contemplated, reflected and I was left bleeding, like a furious battle with a band of stubborn goblins had just taken place.
Now, I already know there are areas of me that need to change, inside and out. I wouldn’t be at this point in my life if I didn’t think I needed to improve. I wouldn’t be writing this blog if it weren’t true. So, when these opinions were dumped on me, I tried to keep an open mind. At first I was defensive, aggressive, bewildered, and downright resentful. I was caught off guard. It was an intervention of sorts and needless to say I wasn’t prepared for it.
The immediate thought in my head was that it couldn’t have come at a worse time, with so much happening in our world right now, this is the last thing I needed to add to my own personal pile of goblin poo. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was actually the best time it could have happened, because I was more mentally prepared to receive it. Take this same situation and rewind a year and I might have rejected it.
The Vulnerability of Character Flaw
I was hurt, embarrassed, and shamed. I was stripped bare and left standing in the cold dark dungeon. An armor corrosion spell was cast and I was left defenseless. Not that wizards really have armor, so it was just a robe. What do we do in those moments of sudden exposure?
In most cases when someones clothes are physically ripped from them, they cover themselves in shame and for protection. We cave our bodies inward, changing our posture and overall physicality. Our exposure sends us into survival mode. We become the prey and often try to either run away or lash out at our attacker hoping it forces them to abandon their pursuit. It’s ugly, raw, animalistic, and hard to not allow the animal within us take over and blind us to what’s happening. It is hard to be logical and analytical in that moment. It’s even more difficult to not cover up, but to open ourselves to the attack and see how we can grow from it. Now, I’m not speaking literally of course, if someone tries to take your clothes, get out of there or hit them with a big stick.
The Arrogant Wizard
The biggest flaw that was exposed that day was how I sometimes have a tendency to speak in a better than you are manner. I was actually totally unaware of this. In fact, I’d always thought that I talked to people with respect and kindness. I was skeptical when this single friend brought this to my attention, because it was one persons opinion. What made this serious was when my other two friends chimed in as well to express their own individual concerns over the same flaw.
I was shocked. Am I blind? How could I not see this? Especially because it was expressed that this had been happening for years. Years? Wow, I must really be blind. Those feelings for me were valid. Often our flaws are hidden. We don’t realize they are even there or that we are even projecting them onto others. Sometimes they are part of our subconscious. Character flaws are so engrained in us, that we can’t see them at all or even know they are there.
The World is Flawed
The world is exposing many flaws these days. As I mentioned earlier, people are starting to revaluate themselves. They aren’t doing it because one person said they may have particular tendencies, but many, thousands of people have expressed their feelings on awareness, privilege, knowledge, discrimination, and more. Therefore, people are starting to look inward and say, “Am I projecting any of that?” Even if it’s not conscious, because sometimes it’s not. Often it takes another individual to see the flaw within you. When I play Dungeons & Dragons, my character will never shout, “I’m arrogant.” But after many encounters with other players and characters within the game, the arrogance, if role-played correctly, will be apparent.
I was that arrogant wizard, strutting around the village, pretending to be above the rest. This arrogance is centered mostly around how I deal with my housemates and not as much how I live my life, but the validity and exposure of it even in that context makes me step back and take into account other instances in my life in which arrogance may have played a role.
What did I find? I found that I’ve been arrogant many times in my life. I just didn’t know what it was until now. We must also understand that character flaws are often a product of past experiences. My arrogance came out of valid experiences I had in the past where I felt I was the only one being responsible. I then let these early experiences flow into my other relationships. I looked at how hard I was working to pick up the slack from others and continued with that perception and attitude when dealing with newer people in my life. To the newer people, this was totally unfair and stepping back and seeing it from the outside, I can see how it may have had a hand in pushing people away.
Exposing the Truth of Character Flaw
If a major character flaw gets exposed, ask yourself some questions.
- Is this issue one persons opinion or several?
- Can you find validity to it in your mind?
- Is this flaw a bad thing?
- Can I learn and grow from its exposure?
Individual Versus Multiple Opinions
When a major character flaw gets exposed to you by a friend or other individual, it’s totally okay to get another opinion. When my friend was explaining my issue to me, I took a moment to include the others, asking for their opinions with each item presented. Their individual opinions combined gave more weight and importance to the issue. A pattern formed.
I’m not saying if one person has an issue with you that you shouldn’t consider it important. What I’m saying is that it’s okay to get a second opinion or third or fourth. You must take in what that individual is saying and ask them to give you some time with this new information, then take that information to other friends and ask if they’ve ever been effected by that flaw. Handle it the same way you would a research paper in school. You don’t read one opinion/reference and take that as the truth. You research multiple points of view and find commonality between them.
The Importance of Believing It Yourself
Someone can tell you something, but as I mentioned before, unless you believe it, nothing will change. This is why I say you must sit with the information that was exposed. You have to take time with it in your heart and soul and ask yourself, truly ask yourself, if you think it’s valid. Sometimes it’s not. People say all sorts of untruthful things in an attempt to deceive or hurt others, but if it’s a good friend, it might behoove you to consider its validity. If you find no validity in it, then you need to express that to the one who exposed it. Perhaps they misinterpreted it.
People see things different and we are all built differently, so when a friend exposes a flaw, take time to decide if it is valid or undeserved.
Character Flaw & Individuality
I’ve already expressed that flaws are what makes us different and why a character flaw meaning is variable. My experiences have shaped my flaws and made me who I am, just as your experiences have shaped you. We’re all different. It’s the beautiful thing about humanity; so much variety. Yet, there is a clear distinction between personality flaws that are endearing and unique versus flaws that are potentially damaging to others and more importantly ourselves. This goes back to the importance of being open about the exposure of your “flaw”. Is it potentially damaging or is it just a superficial remark? You have to be the ultimate judge, but don’t be afraid of getting those additional opinions from people you trust.
In this simple to follow article, we get seven steps for reaching out to others for emotional support. A lot of it comes down to just being open and communicative, which is the most important thing you can do.
Learning & Growing
Learning and growing is exactly what I’m doing with this blog and journey to self help. I know problems exists within me and that I can’t identify them without help. This situation means I’m in a better space for receiving it. Not everyone is in a good space when a flaw is presented. You have to want to learn and want to grow. Otherwise, you’ll never truly change.
It’s like my friends who have tried to quit smoking versus the ones who have. The difference usually comes down to commitment. The ones who really wanted to quit, committed themselves to that. They looked inward and made a promise to themselves. The ones who wanted to quit, but didn’t commit themselves to it, usually failed. You must want to learn and grow. You have to want to be your best self. It’s going to be a long and hard journey, but it’s one that I’m personally excited to explore. Growing is exciting. Be eager to learn a character flaw that you didn’t know was there. It’s daunting, sure, but the potential treasure at the end of your personal dungeon will far outweigh any difficulty you may face in getting there.
I’m lucky that I have such amazing friends that care about me enough to enlighten me on how I can be a better person and point out my character flaw. I looked across into my friends eyes and thanked him for exposing this truth. I’m grateful because I know only a true friend would go down such an uncomfortable road with me and help me see something I was blind to. If you have a friend or family member who is brave enough to confront you about a personality flaw, don’t be shy about thanking them. It was a hard thing for my friend to do. He even expressed how difficult and how much conflict there was in whether he should even bring it up. I could see how heavy it weighed on him. That’s a friend. Don’t take that for granted should you be so lucky.
Friendship is more important than we realize. In Psychology Today, we are given 15 solid reasons why we need friendship and the benefits they have on our lives. Don’t throw away your friends because you’re too stubborn to listen.
Last Weeks Reflection
I’m getting better at my weekly tasks, but they still aren’t perfect and they probably never will be. That’s okay. You’re going to have bumps in the road your whole life, so get some sturdy leather boots and lace up for the long journey ahead. I successfully completed all of my personal assignments minus my end of the day reflections. I honestly don’t know what happened. They slipped my mind over the week as other concerns manifested. That’s okay. It’s going to happen. Your life will sometimes take a turn and throw you off course. Our person dungeons are going to have twists and turns and often you’re going to take a left when you should have taken a right. You’re going to hit a dead end and have to retrace your steps back. The important this is forging onward and trying again.
I’m feeling pretty good about my first few assignments. Even on the weekend, I still wake up at 6:30 in the morning right on cue and I start getting really tired around ten o’clock at night. The glass of water helps my body feel better and my mind more awake. Making up my bed, as simple as it is, has a small but significant impact on my feeling of accomplishment. It’s a great way to start my morning. Unplugging before bed has given me great joy, because I’ve found myself reading so much more and I can’t wait till that hour approaches so that I may snuggle in with that good book.
Meditation is Hard
I have to admit that I’ve been implementing the walks and meditation prior to this past week and I have to say that just the routine of the walks to the park in the morning and the meditation helps keep me focused throughout the day. It allows my body and mind time to wake up and mentally prepare for the coming tasks.
I’ve tried meditation many times in the past without success. Lately, I’ve been able to still myself down for the ten minutes I allow for meditation. It’s a huge success for me because I couldn’t even do it for five minutes in the past. It’s still new to me and I wanted to set the goal of at least ten minutes for an extended amount of weeks before I tried to increase the time or intensity. If you’ve never tried it before, set a simple short time, don’t try to do a 30 minute meditation from the start. It’s likely you’ll fail and you want to give yourself positive reinforcement by building up small successes. It’s all about those small steps.
Facing the Dungeon Alone?
Next week we will check in with our hero to see the choice he made in regards to his companions. Does he make amends and repair the trust within the party or does he reject his dwarven companions words and strike out into the dungeon alone? It’s an important decision he must make as a first level hero. Can he conquer the dangers of the dungeon alone? Will Disorder, the goblin boss succeed in subverting our hero’s progress?
My mission for this next week is to continue my objectives from the last two. I will continue to be rising at 6:30 in the morning and in bed by 10:30 in the evening. I’ll continue to drink my water and make my bed and I will continue to unplug and read an hour before bedtime. I will further continue my walks and meditations in the morning and I will be sure to actually implement my reflection notes at the end of each day. Remember, that it’s okay to forget or skip something. I mentioned in my last post that we will often fail in our journey to self-improvement, but the important thing is to pick it back up and try again the next day. It’s going to be messy, but that’s the idea.
Instead of the typical two additional goals for this coming week, I’ll be only implementing one. The reason for this is because I don’t want to overwhelm myself and if I’ve already completely failed to implement one new task, so why try to overload myself with what will end up being three new tasks if I were to add an additional two.
Challenge: The Morning Check-in
So, in addition to doing my reflection notebook at night, which takes a moment to analyze the positive and negative parts of my day, I’ll be committing to doing a Morning Check-in with myself. Now, there are many way you can implement this, so if you’re following along and trying these tasks yourself, then I encourage you to find what works best for you.
A Morning Check-in simply means sitting with yourself for at least 5-10 minutes and asking yourself how do you feel today. I learned this exercise in my acting conservatory. You can only be where you are on that particular day, whether you’re feeling sad, happy, angry, sick, or tired. All of those emotions are going to influence the rest of your day. So, it’s a matter of asking yourself, what are you feeling this morning and how can you channel that into positive, productive energy.
Happy energy is much easier to focus into productivity that sadness or anger. This is why we do the check-in. I’m going to pull those feelings apart and ask myself why I’m feeling the way I’m feeling. If you sit with it long enough, most of the time you’ll see the answer. Then I’m going to accept that feeling, even if it’s a bad feeling, because I can only be where I am in that moment.
Acceptance allows me the ability to redirect that energy and move past it. If I’m feeling sad and I realize it’s because I miss my family, I can then acknowledge that. I can then further redirect that energy by looking ahead at all the good things I’ll do once with my family or I can focus on all the positive things of why I love my family so much. Focusing on the positive aspects of a thought can change your energy in the moment, making it more palpable for productivity.
Arming Ourselves Against Disorder
Moving forward, all of these tasks are helping to build our defenses against the goblin boss, Disorder. We are learning and growing as we explore our personal dungeon and preparing ourselves for greater challenges ahead. Next week we will reflect back on this idea of character flaw. If you notice your own character flaw, just remember to take the time to sit with it and see how it feels for you. You have believe it and want to change if true change is ever going to take place.
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