Posted by: RealisticRecovery | February 21, 2009

List of Character Defects for 12 Step Recovery Work

List of Character Defects for 12 Step Recovery Work

Here’s a list I found of possible character defects to consider while doing stepwork. It’s by Lydia at her recovery blog:  Don’t Drink and Don’t Die

Lydia’s Character Defect List ( visit her site for updated versions of this list)

  • anger, hatred
  • anxiety – Not as a clinical diagnosis, but as a general way of viewing things with an eye toward what is wrong, what might be wrong, what has been wrong or what is going to be wrong. Excessive worry, especially about things I cannot change.
  • arrogance – Offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride.
  • closed mindedness – Contempt prior to investigation. Disregarding things and ideas just because they are new and unknown. Being unwilling to try things or follow suggestions. Failing to remain teachable.  Having a mind firmly unreceptive to new ideas or arguments.
  • dependency, over dependency, co dependency – Relying on others to provide for us what we ought to provide for ourselves. Feeling we must be in a relationship, or must hold on to others who want to move on. Letting others control us to an extreme due to our fear of being alone, abandoned, or independent.
  • depression, pessimism – Not as a clinical condition, but as a way to generally see the dark side of things.
  • dishonesty – Sins of omission and commission. Telling lies, hiding things, telling half truths or pretending something is so that isn’t. Withholding important information. Adding untrue details to stories and situations.  Stealing, cheating, taking things that aren’t ours and that we aren’t entitled to.
  • controlling attitude toward people, places and things – Trying to control others by manipulation, bribery, punishment, withholding things or tricking them into acting as we wish, even when we believe it is in their best interest to do so. Failing to be equal partners with others and to consider their knowledge and opinions.
  • fear
  • gluttony, greed – Wanting and taking too much: food, sex, time, money, comfort, leisure, material possessions, attention, security.  Acquiring things (material things, relationships, attention) at the expense of others.
  • gossiping – Speaking or writing about others in a negative manner, especially to get them in trouble or to feel superior to them and bond with someone else against the target of the gossip.  When I find myself talking about someone, I must pause and check out why I am mentioning their name.
  • humility, a lack of humility – Feeling better than and worse than others, and being self centered.
  • impatience – Being frustrated by waiting, wanting often to be some time in the future, wanting something to change or improve rather than accepting it as it is.
  • intolerance – Not accepting people or things for who or what they are.
  • inventory taking, being judgmental – Noticing and listing, out loud or to ourselves, the faults of others.
  • jealousy and envy – Wanting what others have, feeling we don’t have enough or deserve more, wishing we had what others do instead of them. This applies to material possessions like houses, cars, money and such. It also applies to nonmaterial things like relationships, a nice family, children, parents, friends and partners, and fulfilling work relationships. We can envy others their looks and physical appearance, their talents and physical abilities or attributes such as thinness, tallness, sports ability or musical talent.
  • laziness, procrastination, sloth – Not doing as much as is reasonable for us to do. Putting things off repeatedly. Not carrying our own load as much as we are able. Letting others provide things for us that we ought to get for ourselves.
  • perfectionism – Expecting or demanding too much from ourselves or others. Treating things that aren’t perfect as not good enough. Not recognizing a good try or progress.
  • prejudice – Pre-judging people based on a group they belong to. Negative feelings about someone based on their religion, race, nationality, age, disability, sexual orientation, accent, politics, economic status, physical characteristics like height, weight, hair style, clothing style, physical fitness.
  • rationalization, minimizing and justifying, self-justification – Saying and/or believing I had good motives for bad behavior.  Saying that I did bad things for good reasons, or that what I did really wasn’t that bad.
  • resentment – The feeling of displeasure or indignation at some act, remark, person, etc., regarded as causing injury or insult.
  • rigidity and fear of change
  • self centeredness, selfishness – Spending excessive time thinking about myself. Considering myself first in situations. Not having enough regard for others or thinking about how circumstances hurt or help others. Thinking about what I can get out of situations and people, what’s in it for me? Spending too much time considering my appearance, acquiring things for myself, pampering myself, indulging myself.
  • self pity

source: Lydia at Don’t Drink and Don’t Die

for more Character Defect lists, try : List of Character Defects and Assets , and also 194 Character Defects


  1. Authentic words, some truthful words dude. You rocked my day.

    • Thanks a lot.
      For sure, this is a great post, but just in case you didn’t notice, I got this from a recovery blog – Lydia over at her really cool blog: Don’t Drink and Don’t Die.
      Be sure to visit her site too when you have a chance.

      Thanks again for visiting here and taking the time to comment, take a look around, there might be some more articles that catch your eye.


  2. working on my character defects at the moment glad i found the list it helps

    • Hey Anna, welcome to the site and thanks for taking the time to comment.
      Good luck with the character defect work.

      Don’t forget to check out the other Character Defect Lists on this blog, especially the List of Defects and Assets, because you get to list the stuff you like about you.
      No balance sheet is complete without listing the assets.


  3. Thanks a lot. I’ve been having a lot of trouble with my 10th Step lately. After the first 2 years, every time I’ve tried to do it at night, I start to fall asleep! In the last year and a half (I’ve been sober for about 3.5 years), I’ve slacked a lot on it and I’m feeling the pain now. Just a general sense of being lost and irreparable. This little check list is going to help a ton. If I don’t have a way to see how my defects are manifesting themselves in my behavior, I won’t know what they are, right? And if I don’t know what they are, then I can’t specifically ask for them to be removed! A ha! Thanks! And I’ll check the other lists too. I’m not all bad, after all:)

    • You are not bad at all!!
      In fact, you are extremely awesome. 🙂

      And if you want to thank the person that provided the internet with this list , make sure you visit Lydia’s blog over at : Don’t Drink and Don’t Die

      Thanks for visiting and commenting, good luck with the recovery work GS.


  4. Really like your blog and the variety of topics you tackle. I’ve started one with some essays on living the program. Perhaps you’d consider sharing a link?

    Thanks for the ES&H.

  5. Thanks Dave for taking the time to visit and comment.
    I will check out your site as well
    And when I start putting up others blogs links, I will definitely consider yours, great work.

    Good job,

  6. Great Site!!!! Thank you…

  7. Thanks for a list of character defects im working my 4th step in N.A. and know i got em jst didnt have words to put to them got 6 and a half months clean pretty stoked glad these programs exist saved my life!

  8. I’ve been thinking about my charactar defects lately and exactly what they are. I really hadn’t thought about fear being a charcter defect until last night when I shared at an AA meeting and thought that my fear was from a lack of trust in my Higher Power. I know it all started in my childhood and I started working an ACA program Last July to address my dysfunction. And then I came accross this site this morning. I know HP is letting me know I’m on the right path. Thank you for 12 stepping me and others. There is so much to see. I’m just getting started.

  9. Thanks, for the list im just starting to do my steps for the first time, im in treatment and make as many meetings as i can i am 14days clean, so i need all the help i can.

    • Good work Denise, keep it up!!

  10. thank you for sharing this information that can help a newcomer like me

    • Your welcome Hana, and thanks for visiting.
      If you find anything useful here, feel free to pass it on.

  11. I am in treatment and doing the steps . I am on step two. I am having problem with characteristics my Higher Power does not have? what characteristics he does have? will some one give me advice?

    • My list…

      HP is not: punishing, human or even human-like, angry, forceful

      HP is: loving, always acting in my best interests (even though I might not see it), everywhere at all times, patiently waiting for me to ask for guidance and help

    • This was a suggestion for me when I was having trouble with “my own conception of God”: Write a want ad for what you need in a higher power. THAT is your conception in the beginning. It can always change or grow, or you grow in understanding of Him.

    • technically the book of alcoholics anonomous is designed to help you find a power greater than yourself that will solve your problem. from my own personal experience using an infinite creator of the whole entire universe greatly increases the affects of a spiritual awakening remember that we want quality not quantity we want to be sure we get this part of the program to the best of our ability. for example a person uses a piece of rope for a higher power then slowly puttin along he comes to his fourth step then does number 5 then is entirely ready to have god remove all of his defects of character and humbly asks him to remove his shortcomings and once he is free from his general makeup which was his defects of character and were probably the only thing holding him together is gone he now experiences the promises where he is thrust into concious contact with the god of his understanding could then a rope be responsible for such an awesome change inside of a person you decide

  12. please teach the big book

    • Reality is the biggest book.

  13. […] the recovery world the term “character defects” is often used to describe this kind of state with which addicts (and humans in general) […]

  14. Agree with Sudhakar. I prefer the original list of 7 from the “Twelve and Twelve” book:
    pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth. These have worked well for my inventories completed over the years.

    • That’s awesome Danny, keep up the good work.
      And remember if you ever need a more comprehensive list of defects, it will be right here.

  15. life is so hard when you stop poisioning your self but realize thet you and your family are still being slowly poisioned, It is really hard to stay sober 18 months have passed and nothing changes the microscopic particales that blow under my famlies 2 houses that asorb into our skin and lungs that create insomina , stinging pains , chest pains like anging.staph infections and a rainbow halo around lighrs at night because of this thin layed covering our eyes and orgains and the government the social services just say your crazy thats the scarry part for american famlies this is a hidious crime for proptery and pensions. even the womem and children suffer this slow terriable crime it could happen to you next if we dont speak out

  16. Do you have a spiritual principles list like this?

    • Yes Eric, sorry for just noticing this unanswered question just tonight.
      Here’s a link to a list of : Basic Universal Spiritual Principles
      Hope this is helpful in some way, sorry again about the delay.

  17. […] I think I’ll try it with this list of character defects. […]


    • May your god bless you too PP.

  19. I am a retread and one reason why is because i never addressed the character defects. thank you for this site it will be very helpfill to me this time around.

  20. thank you for this site it has helped me alot* good luck to everyone and remmember *ONE DAY AT A TIME* linda b.

  21. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Thanks for posting. Great list and great message

  22. Thank God for this list, really helped me move forward on my 4th step.

  23. It is in point of fact a great and useful piece of info.
    I am glad that you simply shared this helpful info with us.

    Please stay us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  24. […] Its important we keep these in mind, and take inventory daily (reminder to self!); So here is a reminder to you and to me I borrowed this quickly from great blog- there are however many out there, so be thorough and make sure you are ticking them off and you role, Thanks to […]

    • This is where the program takes over when I allow myself to see what is the problem which is me and how to recover which is GOD as my strength and the program as my structure trully thankful for the list will have it in my big book for now on. GOD BLESS

  25. […] List of Character Defects for 12 Step Recovery Work […]

  26. I found this again, and I still think this is such an amazing list. Thank you so much for your ESH (experience, strength, and hope). When I think I can do it alone, it’s a great reminder that the fellowship is the best recovery tool out there.

  27. thank you for this list


  29. I wanted to discuss this posting, “List of Character Defects for 12 Step Recovery Work
    Realistic Recovery” with my good friends on facebook
    or twitter. I reallyonly just needed to pass on ur great posting!
    Many thanks, Hildegard

  30. […] […]

  31. […] these two women knew me and saw me on a regular basis. They became my closest friends. They knew my defects of character IN DETAIL and called me on my crap on a daily basis. Guess what? That was almost six years ago. […]

  32. pleasure seeking when lonely

  33. iam on step one

  34. Thank you so much I have been procrastinating on my 6th step and this really helped me! Obviously working on the step is needed!

  35. I Appreciate this message for it help me to recover from a life not pleasing to God.It all start in the heart.

  36. Great to have this,I really like this,Im in meetting right now on step6!

  37. The only way to practice step 7 is fairly simple. First, take an inventory of your thoughts. The mind must have something to think about. If we do not direct our thinking, the mind can and will go negative. And it will usually go negative starting with a thought about sex. Psychologists tell us we have a sexual thought every 18 seconds. But with we alcoholics, who have been drinking a depressant, will,in the beginning practicing our program will usually find most all of or thoughts are negative.

    So spend some time pay close attention to your thought patterns. Then begin to develop new habit of asking God to remove a single negative thought as it happens. Then quickly thank him for removing the thought. Do this with every individual thought. as you go through your day. It may take you a few weeks to develop this new habit, but once developed, you will find yourself thanking God all through your day.

  38. Reblogged this on My Blog.

  39. Great stuff here, I’m following you!

  40. Everybody has some or maybe all of these personality defects whether or not they realize or accept them. The biggest problem here is once you recognize which ones you may have deciding to even attempt to improve upon yourself. This is willingness. I myself as a recovering alcoholic am just beginning to attempt to improve myself for me and better relationships with the people I love and care about. This being said I am much appreciative of those who continue to help me in my struggles to get my life back together. I am not perfect and am not portraying myself to be. I hope that everyone realizes I am only human and before judging me or anyone else please open mindedly consider these personality traits they may possess and are imposing upon others with unrealistic expectations. Here the serenity prayer comes into play and acceptance should always predominate over anger and blatant misunderstanding of another’s true feelings and intentions to arrive at a better place in their life. Imposing your will upon others will only alienate them and cause more despair then they may already be dealing with. I hope what I have said here may help you enjoy a better life and find peace in your own lives. May God our heavenly father bless you all.

  41. […] takes time, humility, prayer and a whole lot of effort.  God wants to give us victory over our character defects.  He is the God of my past, present, and future.  But the positive changes found in […]

  42. […] I think I’ll try it with this list of character defects. […]

  43. So many of these are my character defects I just couldn’t put a name to them. Thank you for posting!

  44. […] have character defects, faults and flaws.  I can be viciously unkind.  Either by nature or due to my upbringing I tend […]

  45. I would like this sent to my email

  46. thanks for this list I’ve been able to add a few more defects to work on in my life long recovery hope alls well for everyone who reads this thanks again just for today peace

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