Self-knowledge as a key to happiness is nothing new; four centuries before the birth of Christ, Socrates said, “Know thyself.” Acknowledging our strengths, weaknesses, gifts, and faults is clearly an asset in life, but it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by our faults, as though they were much greater than our strengths. Have you ever felt that a certain personality defect is ruining your life and sowing discord around you? Fortunately, it’s possible to learn how to manage these faults and minimize their negative impact.
First of all, be patient and determined. If you have several vices you’d like to correct, address them one at a time. This work is not actually about eliminating a tendency, but transforming it. Therefore, the focus should be on replacing each defect with a virtue. To do this, you have to be kind to yourself. Find the strength to admit your faults, and then learn to use these traits in a positive way so that they don’t hinder you or your relationships with others.
Here are five faults you can correct with a bit of work:
Anger is considered one of the seven deadly sins — but there’s the emotion of anger, which we have to a real or perceived injustice, and then there the reaction we have to a physical or emotional wound. The latter is the real problem.
Repressing our emotions isn’t helpful, therefore, the goal is not to avoid anger altogether, but to control its expression and repercussions. Repressing anger will only lead to internal tension. So, what can you do?
Try to transform this fault with the virtue of temperance. Look for words to express your anger: What am I feeling? Why? If you lose your temper, take time afterwards to analyze the situation: What happened? How did I react? How could I have reacted differently?
If it helps, write out your thoughts. Try to recall these thoughts the next time you are hurt or frustrated. Learn how to control your reactions in the moment and take time to distance yourself from the situation before reacting. This will allow you to choose a more temperate approach. Visualization and relaxation techniques such as mindfulness exercises and meditation can be helpful, as well as various forms of art, since they favor emotional expression.
Another option could be to find a sport or activity that allows you to release your negative energy and tension. Find the way that’s right for you to release what’s inside, whether it’s calm or energetic!
The lack of desire to do what is necessary can lead to other problems, which is the reason laziness — considered part of “sloth” — is also considered a deadly sin. As a result of procrastinating indefinitely, lazy people find themselves with an ever-growing list of unaccomplished tasks. Eventually, they will be subject to external pressures that will leave them with no choice but to get to work.
How can we overcome laziness? If you lack desire to do a necessary task, try setting yourself a realistic deadline. If you have several things to do in one week, give yourself small objectives for each day, alternating with things you enjoy doing. In this system of alternating action and reward, it will be less psychologically difficult to accomplish your tasks. Don’t forget that by delaying your tasks, you make them accumulate. They won’t diminish over time. Why not do the dishes right after supper? It would take only 15 minutes, while five days of dishes would take an hour — and in five days, you won’t have a choice but to wash them because there will be no clean dishes left.
Concentrate on the satisfaction you will feel once the task is accomplished, keeping in mind the snowball effect: neglect a task once, then again … and in the end a month will go by and it still won’t be done! Beyond the displeasure, keep in mind the result. Once your task is accomplished you will be free to rest without guilt!