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The Truth about Character ‘Flaws’

The Truth about Character ‘Flaws’

On Saturday night, I was sitting around the house in my pajamas watching Battlestar Galactica – yes, that’s how fabulous my life is – and I decided to call one of my oldest friends. I love talking with her because she and I have overcome some similar dark nights of the soul, so our conversations often lead to some pretty fantastic insights.

We were talking about, you know, the whole process of personal growth and how it requires us to stop feeling so damn guilty about our supposed “shortcomings.” Chinese Five Element Theory says that we’re all made up of a unique combination of fire, earth, metal, water and wood. Our particular cocktail of elements determines many of our strengths, as well as the qualities that can present challenges and issues we’ll likely have to grapple with in our lives. Ayurveda’s concept of doshas is similar in certain ways. Even Western astrology promotes the idea that we come into life with certain inclinations and tendencies that are fundamental to our character and personality.

On one level, these traditions are all different ways of explaining the truth that we are who we are – and that’s not necessarily good or bad, it just is what it is (I know, that’s a major simplification – but stay with me on this). Our mission in life – if we choose to accept it – is to use those character traits as tools to help us grow. So – stop criticizing yourself! If you’re an introvert who tends to work better in a quiet space alone, being critical of yourself and trying to become someone who works well in fast-paced offices with a lot of people is counter-productive. There’s nothing wrong with the way you are.

We live in a society that values certain characteristics much more than others. Being outgoing, extroverted, tenacious almost to a fault and bold when it comes to asserting authority are traits that we tend to see as positive in this country. Think of the archetypical high-powered corporate CEO. But not everyone operates that way. If that’s not you, feeling bad about yourself and wishing you were someone you’re not will only be self-destructive. It’s important to accept your lovely self just the way you are – and to see that the strengths and challenges your personality traits have given you are among the building blocks of personal growth.

Or maybe you’re not someone who can sit for hours, poring over the same project. Maybe you need to take breaks to let your mind wander. That’s perfectly fine! It doesn’t mean you’re not willing to work hard – it just means you have a different style. So allow yourself to take a few minutes and get some fresh air – or watch some stupid cat videos (here, we’ll help you out). You’ll be more effective – and a whole lot happier – if you do what’s best for yourself.

So if you have a character trait you wish you could change, know that there’s a good chance that the trait itself is not inherently bad. If you’re fighting it rather than accepting it and working with it – that’s when the trait can lead to undesirable outcomes. So try to accept yourself as you are – you don’t need to fit into anyone else’s mold.

Related:
5 Super Simple Ways to Be More Productive

Read more: Life, Mental Wellness, Self-Help, Spirit, , , , , , , ,

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Sarah Cooke

Sarah Cooke is a writer living in California. She is interested in organic food and green living. Sarah holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University, an M.A. in Humanities from NYU, and a B.A. in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University. She has written for a number of publications, and she studied Pastry Arts at the Institute for Culinary Education. Her interests include running, yoga, baking, and poetry. Read more on her blog.

98 comments

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3:08AM PST on Dec 22, 2013

Thank you :)

5:27PM PST on Dec 21, 2013

Nobody is perfect.

8:48AM PST on Nov 16, 2013

make the best of the hand you are dealt

1:57PM PST on Nov 3, 2013

To Sofia E - Allow yourself a "pity party" for 5 minutes, then start kicking yourself in the back end. I've been an introvert from grade school on. An only child, moved every year, so different school every year. I became the quiet girl who no one noticed,sitting in the back of the room, unless assigned some different seat. I went through school making only a very few close friends. As I grew up, I stayed quiet, hating parties where I knew very few, finding a corner to watch everyone until it was time to go home.
Now that I'm older, I've learned that if you only find one or two very close friends in your life, feel blessed, because they are rare and should be nurtured. Not every person is so lucky.
Do Not believe you Need a relationship, Need someone to complete you. When you start thinking like that, you limit yourself, and get desperate. Desperation does Not make a good partner, it can lead to abuse, or worse, feeling alone in a relationship. I have been there, done that, and it's not a good place to be.
As I've grown older I've become more outgoing, still hate large groups where I don't know anyone, and have found that a person can do too much soul-searching, go too much inside. This can also cut you off, leave you alone with blinders, or rose-colored glasses.
Get out, volunteer, take a class or two. Meet people on Your terms, slowly, and you will find yourself taking small steps towards coming out of your shell. Don't rush it. Don't expect to find what

12:03AM PDT on Oct 28, 2013

As Deborah W said we have the power to choose and change or do whatever it is we want to do. As Sofia said self-acceptance works for self, but our lives can be infinitely affected for the worse when others have trouble accepting us as we are. Ditto Steve M!

12:27PM PDT on Oct 25, 2013

virtually every character or personality trait has both a positive and a negative side. For example, persistence is essential for various successes it also can be seen as stubbornness--which is a possible downside.

1:10PM PDT on Oct 24, 2013

I absolutely love this post. Thank you!

12:04PM PDT on Oct 23, 2013

TY

7:06AM PDT on Oct 22, 2013

No one's perfect.

Look in the mirror, like what you see? If not, change it, you have the power to rethink, evaluate, adjust and give it another go.

We're all works in progress and most get the chance for do-overs again and again, as each day is brand new and full of possibilities. Don't waste them.

We are, after all, products of OUR choices and each life lesson helps present the options needed to make desired change happen ... AND, if you wake up dead, game over, no more problems.


5:35AM PDT on Oct 22, 2013

Thank you Sarah, for Sharing this!

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