Principle 8: Overhauling our character traits
Rabbi Twerski once wrote as follows about someone who was convinced he could never give up these behaviors:
His conviction that he cannot overcome the addiction is the addiction talking to him, saying, “Give up the fight, it’s useless. You’ll never succeed, so why put yourself through the misery.” Other than just try to stop, what has this young man done to make essential changes in his character? That’s where one should begin.
I attended an AA meeting where the speaker was celebrating his 20th year of sobriety. He began by saying, “The man I once was, drank. And the man I once was, will drink again” (but the man I am today, will not). Alcoholics who have not had a drink for many years but have not overhauled their character are “dry drunks” and will often drink again. The same is true for this addiction.
How does one become a different person? By working diligently on improving one’s character traits. Learning how to manage anger, to rid oneself of resentments, to overcome hate, to be humble, to be considerate of others, to be absolutely honest in all one’s affairs, to admit being wrong, to overcome envy, to be diligent and overcome procrastination. In short, one should take the Orchos Tzaddikim (I’m sure it’s available in English), and go down the list of character traits, strengthening the good one’s and trying to eliminate the bad ones. This does not happen quickly. When one has transformed one’s character and has become a different person, one will find that this “new person” can accomplish things that the old person could not.