Honest Self Reckoning is Powerful and Liberating
Honest self reckoning is crucial for character growth. Why? Because we human beings have an incredible capacity to fool ourselves. Sometimes, we do it unwittingly, unconsciously. Character-impaired folks do it habitually and automatically, but mostly knowingly. In either case, our self-deceptions can significantly arrest our character development. That’s why there’s incredible power in facing and embracing the unvarnished truth.
(Note: For technical reasons, self-reckoning is often not hyphenated throughout this article.)
Facing and embracing the truth about ourselves is hard. Moreover, we first have to recognize and admit just what the truth of matters is. Then, we have to have the faith and courage to deal with it. Fortunately, when we do, we empower ourselves. The truth has the power to set us free. It wrests us from the shackles that hinder our spiritual and character growth.
Searching One’s Soul
The fourth step of most 12-step programs involves taking a “moral inventory.” The step outlines a process by which folks search their souls for the errors they’ve made in life. Two words in this popular step describe how to undertake the task effectively: searching and fearless. To reckon with your character effectively, you have to probe deeply. You have to be willing look under every nook and cranny. Moreover, you have to do it without reservation. This kind of self-examination can be quite unsettling. However, can also be quite liberating.
Folks who aren’t particularly character-impaired don’t need much confrontation to honestly self-reckon. But honest self reckoning is completely foreign to folks all-too-used to lying to themselves. Such folks need someone to hold them to account. Indeed, some disturbed characters are virtually “at war” with the truth. (See also: Narcissism and the War on Truth.) That’s why as a therapist who often dealt with character-disturbed people, I worked tirelessly to refine the art of “benign confrontation.” (See also: Learning to Confront Effectively and Benignly.)
Spiritual and Character Growth
Spiritual and character growth go hand-in-hand. You simply can’t evolve spiritually without cultivating character. Character is all about embracing and living out time-tested principles and values. That helps us behave in a socially responsible way. But it also advances us along our spiritual paths. Now, finding a heart for virtue requires we do something particularly daunting. It’s been said before: To find our larger, truer, and more noble selves, we must shed our smaller, false, egoic selves. This is the hardest task in life. And most of us need a structure within which to accomplish it. Folks actively embracing their 12-step programs know this well. And it’s what the “10 Commandments” I’ve been talking about for weeks now are all about.
Honest self-reckoning is a crucial step in the process of evolving into a more spiritually centered character. But to take this step effectively it helps to have already taken the essential preparatory steps. Let’s recap those steps for a bit. First, you have to see the big picture and humbly recognize your place in it. Then, you have to appreciate the great gift of life. You also have to cultivate a solid sense of your worth, knowing deeply where that worth comes from. Embracing all these things prepares you for the honest self reckoning that can truly empower you. And getting straight with yourself prepares you for even further growth.
The Next Steps
Honest self reckoning requires deep reverence for both the truth and its power. And a faithfully completed soul search prepares you to embrace the next two commands of solid character development. (See pp. 140-146 in Character Disturbance.) These commandments are all about self-mastery. And we’ll be talking a lot about them in the coming weeks.