Debtors Anonymous: Step Six —Surrender your character defects

Spending money I don’t have makes me feel special

Debt Diaries, Step Six: Surrender your character defects to be removed

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One woman’s 12-step path of recovery from debt addiction. Step Six involves surrendering yourself to allow your shortcomings to be removed

We list patterns of thought and behaviour that are not working for us anymore.

If you’ve ever been in therapy, your therapists will call these “areas for growth.”

Like all the steps, I approached this one with the grace and willingness of a toddler, mid-tantrum. I was able to see, thanks to a decade of therapy and a very thorough step four and five, what my defects were.

But a lot of my defects are very seductive and hard to let go of.

PREVIOUS STEP: Ask a higher power to remove your defects

One of the character defects that came up over and over again was entitlement. For some reason, I felt that I should be able to buy a lot of fancy things I couldn’t pay for; that it was appropriate, for example, for a twenty-something with $10,000 in debt and living at home (and paying no rent) to buy Chanel sunglasses at $300 a pair. I felt like I was special; like I shouldn’t have to play by the rules. This defect had gotten in the way of happiness countless times; it had also proved ruinous in relationships.

So, obviously, I’d want to get rid of it, right?

Not necessarily.

Hanging onto it gave me a delicious hit, this feeling that I was better than others, that I was more gifted, talented, special than the unwashed masses. To let go of this defect I might have to show humility (yawn). That sounded kind of blah and pedestrian.

But again. I had taken steps one through five.

NEXT STEP: Admit what got you into this mess

Maybe I could give this one a try.

What I learned:

  • The word “entirely” was offputting. I just needed to be a tiny bit willing.
  • I don’t have to DO anything really, with this step. I just needed to be aware of my defects, and with each defect, ask: why do I do this? How does it benefit me? Do I want this defect removed? Why or why not?

Tips on what to do:  

  • Make a list of all the flaws that became apparent in step four and five. Write down the pros and cons of clinging to these defects
  • Write out a vision of what your life could be like without these defects
  • Ponder why, after all this deep thinking and soul searching, you are still clinging to your defects

Jane Dough is a pseudonym. The writer has decided to remain anonymous

Read the full Debt Diaries series:

Step 1: ‘I was trying to fix my pain with spending
Step 2:  ‘My higher power cares about money’
Step 3:  ‘I surrendered my free will to finally control my debt’
Step 4: Stop blaming other people
Step 5: Admit what got you into this mess
Step 6: Why spending money makes you feel special 
Step 7: Ask a higher power to remove your defects
Step 8: Make a list of the people you’ve harmed
Step 9: Make amends to those you’ve hurt
Step 10: My money problems can’t be fixed by reading ‘The Wealthy Barber’
Step 11: How meditating helps me with my debt problem
Step 12: My urge to binge shop won’t go away