Have you ever noticed something about yourself that truly chaps your hide? Of course, we all have, unless you are a sociopath and have no defects. Maybe its something that you thought you had overcome or perhaps grown out of. Like when someone obviously delivers you a verbal jab and all you do is shrug (passiveness) or you are offered a piece of something remarkably decadent and you really want to taste it but you find yourself saying, “no thank you, I don’t have room for one more bite” (insincerity). What about that juicy story about a friend of a friend that truly bears repeating (gossip) or pretending you are more important and more prosperous than you really are (phony) to compete with someone's possessions or accomplishments (envy)?
Looking your defects dead in the eye is uncomfortable. What have you seen? Well, let me tell you what I found. It would seem I have a very strong cast of character defects. One look at the list I had written sent me running to another session with Dr. Weakly. Our transcript follows:
Dr. Weakly: So, you are back again. It has been a while.
Me: I guess I thought I was better.
Dr. Weakly: (with arrogant smile) what do you think is the root of your obsession with inconsequential things?
Me: What do you mean?
Dr. Weakly: You have more mood swings than a big band.
Me: I was hoping you would help me overcome my defects, not criticize and judge. Two heads are better than one you know.
Dr. Weakly: Really? If you introduce another head into this equation chances are you will simply bump heads. Besides, I’m not so sure your head is operating at 100% of a full head. It could be as effective as pumping oxygen into an open field.
Dr. Weakly: Take a look at all the things you have achieved in your life.
Dr. Weakly: Never mind. What you need to do is look at your defects with clean glasses. Use some lukewarm water and gentle soap or a microfiber cloth. You can’t reach your mental infrastructure by reverse brainstorming.
Me: Can you give me an example of how to see my defects more clearly?
Dr. Weakly: Are you expecting me to do your work? You think because I charge you two hundred dollars an hour that it will bribe me to lie to you? Do you think I have amassed my great wealth by means of fraud? Think hard. I know it sounds like a monumental task but can you name one thing you have any ability in?
Dr. Weakly: What is that voice in the back of your mind saying about you? It must be exhausting to drag that uncertainty around day in and day out. Have you considered joining an enthusiasts club?
Me: I’m not a joiner.
Dr. Weakly: (after an impatient sigh) I can see that finding your backbone is going to be a long drawn out process. It will require commitment, focus, periodic evaluation to determine your progress, patience to tolerate the plateaus and a lot of time. Our time is just about up. Let me ask you this, if you were I, and I was you, what advice would you give?
Me: (after thinking for a long moment) I suppose I would tell me to be optimistic for one thing. A few foul ups don’t define me. Putting a positive spin on the events of my life doesn’t cost me a thing. It would be to my advantage to remember I’m most likely not going to hit the ball out of the park my first time at bat and I would remind me that I will survive the humiliation of revealing my imperfect self. A few initial failures are a small price to pay for learning and experiencing new things. Getting back to my yoga and meditation routines will distract me from negative thoughts and release endorphins that will help me feel happier and more relaxed. I need to define my self-improvement goals in terms of baby steps. I must be accountable to a mentor regarding my weaknesses and admit to any defects that come to the forefront. I should trust that I am guided by a higher power greater than myself to establish a list of defects and the correct order they are to be addressed. Most of all, I would remind me that challenges and difficulties are a part of life and my goal is not to have a problem free life but to monitor how I respond to obstacles.
Dr. Weakly: (his eyebrows flew up in surprise). I think the first order of business will be to get your ego to right size and remember who is the therapist and who is the patient. Attacking others, especially professionals, will only bring you setbacks. We need to project the right images onto your mental screen. I have an undergraduate degree, a doctorate degree in psychology and a master’s degree in forensic psychology. I believe that qualifies me to tell you that you will require at least six months of intense therapy and another six months of follow up therapy to address your issues. Next week, same time?
Me: Yes. Check okay?