Are You Being Left Behind?

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It's not hard to pick out the worst character flaws in other people, but it can be pretty difficult to see them in ourselves. All humans are flawed in one way or another, and the first step to recognizing them in yourself is by admitting that.

There are two types of character flaws, and to figure out what you are dealing with you need to understand them both. First, there is the minor character flaw. This includes a little quirk like habitual lateness that you just cannot seem to shrug off or being easily irritable, especially in the mornings.

Second, there are major character flaws that are serious problems such as gambling, addiction or alcoholism. Major character flaws are usually seen as being highly treatable by professionals, but minor character flaws are too. They might not be as noticeable, but they can get better through mindfulness and work.

If you are motivated to engage in personal growth and development, you're already doing better than most. Here are a few ways to start identifying your faults and how you can correct them. Perfection is not the goal, but with a little insight, we can evolve our own characters to be fairer, more considerate of others, and less on edge all the time.

Ask your trusted friends and family.

Since it can be so difficult to see the flaws in ourselves, one way of identifying them is by talking with trusted friends, coworkers, family members or your spiritual advisors. Uncovering your faults takes some maturity and courage, so if you are feeling nervous about asking others to help it’s completely normal. Start by asking “would you be willing to share with me three think you think I could improve on?” Explain to them the goal of your exercise is to try and be a better person, and that you won’t be taking any of their negative feedback personally. Keep a list of their answers and identify any that are repetitive. If “lack of communication about important subjects” comes up a few times, then you know that might be an area you can evaluate on a deeper level.

Immerse yourself in different cultures, activities and ways of thinking.

When you spend time engaging in other cultures or activities you wouldn’t normally do, you get exposed to new ideas, thoughts and behaviors. You learn more about how other people work and why they do what they do. You can take the things you learned and begin to apply them to your own life. For example, you may travel to Italy and see how passionate their people are about personal time away from work. Are you one of the Americans that spent too much time sucked into your career? Could you benefit from spending more time with your family instead? Take a step back and look at how you could apply their culture to yours, and if it would benefit you and help you grow.

Hire a life coach or therapist.

There are many professionals with years of experience helping people to become the best version of themselves. By speaking with a life coach or therapist, you get someone that has the capability to facilitate personal development. While we may like to do things on our own or only want to ask friends and family, the truth is there is a reason that these people are called professionals. Don't be afraid to be open about your concerns and any areas you want to grow in. There is nothing that these people haven't heard before. They can identify different strategies that will get you to your goals. You also do not have to stick with the first professional you find. Speak with a few and find one that connects with you.

Keep a personal journal.

Exploring your character flaws will not be an easy journey. It won’t all happen at once and you will hit many roadblocks on the way. The best way to keep yourself organized is by having a journal. Writing each night will help you explain yourself to yourself. Getting all your thoughts out on paper makes it easier to pinpoint repetitive issues, areas where you are still confused, and the like. You can go back and read your entries from an objective view and meditate on any progress you made, or identify areas you are still struggling (or may have even missed completely). Furthermore, you can take this journal with you when you talk to any trusted friend or professional.

Look at yourself from your enemy’s perspective.

Philosopher Antisthenes once wrote, “Observe your enemies, for they first find out your faults.” This is a brilliant piece of advice because if you imagine looking at yourself from your enemy's perspective, you are bound to see something very different than you do when you think about yourself. There are things that your friends and family might not tell you in fear of hurting you, but enemies won’t do the same. Think about why those that dislike you may think the way they do. Not all of the reasons will have to do with your character, but some might.