We are, after all, adult children of alcoholics. The way an adult child of alcoholics approaches the process of a personal inventory is to rip himself or herself to shreds, as if it were an invitation to self-gutting, an opportunity to insult ourselves, really use all of our black-and-white thinking skills to see only the worst in ourselves.
Balance, the grey area of life (most of life!), doesn’t come easily to us. We’re used to black and white thinking. Ain’t it easy, too. You know the drill: You love mom, or you hate her. You’re with dad, or against him. For myself, I know that disagreeing with my father, back when he was an active alcoholic, meant disliking him to the core--a difference of opinion against his meant disowning him. Boy did that teach me black and white thinking.
You can see why undertaking a personal inventory as a child of alcoholics, as person prone to be hard on oneself, is like skipping on quicksand. Ya sink.
BE SPECIFIC WHEN TABULATING YOUR FLAWS
Specificity will keep you from tearing yourself apart unfairly.
The truth is, this is going to be different for each one of us, simply because our flaws are unique. But one thing we all must do is keep in mind our tendency toward being merciless with ourselves.
A tip I hope helps is to use specificity when examining your faults. For example, if “terrible lover” is on your list of flaws, realize that’s a blanket statement and needs to be refined. Maybe the more specific flaw in that is, “rarely initiate sex,” or “overly focused on fairness in the bedroom,” etc. If your flaw is, “selfish friend,” then work on making it more specific, for example, “tendency to only call back friends when I’m in a good mood, not when they call, though I expect friends to be there when I call.’
Keep balance in mind as you approach yourself with that magnifying glass.
APPROACH YOURSELF WITH CURIOSITY
Try to approach the process of examining your shortcomings with curiosity, not with fork and knife in hand.
And keep in mind you’re looking at who you are now, not who you are becoming nor who you will become later in your life. You are not a fixed being. And you are certainly apt to change if you’re undertaking a personal inventory--you won’t be able to stop an epiphany from greeting you.
Be like the overtime-working inventory specialist doing a real, physical, factory inventory. Look around, walk up and down the aisles, at the shelves, the products (your character)--look at yourself, objectively, and simply record what you see (fairly and without judgment), and record it, write it down on paper. Remember: there is tremendous freedom in that identification.
Be good to yourself.