Friday, March 1, 2013

Transforming Personality Disorders Into Virtues

Virtues lie hidden within personality patterns. When accessed with God’s help, and freed from manipulative rigidity, these virtues house the power to disarm the very patterns that contain them. To transform personality through the process of becoming Christlike. 

Becoming Christlike

Growing more like Jesus is at first tentative and feels self-conscious. It is a process that requires rhythmic swings between the compass points of Love and Assertion, Weakness and Strength, resulting in fewer manipulative ploys. More core self-disclosure.

When the Dependent Pleaser patterned person asserts rather than placates, for example, the need for always pleasing others lessens. The core self grows less dependent on others, resulting in less anxiety, more authentic caring. There is more congruence between an interior feeling and its external expression.

Out of a pattern’s rigidity, its virtue is born. And now the person takes hold. With God’s guidance, for evermore.
  • Out of the Dependent Pleaser pattern comes the virtue of Charity: kindness, untainted by placating neediness.
  • From the Histrionic Storyteller: Good Cheer. Confident lightheartedness.
  • The Paranoid Arguer: Courage. The ability to speak hard truths diplomatically.
  • The Antisocial Rule-breaker: Creativity. Risk-taking that does not harm.
  • The Avoidant Worrier: Empathy. Sensitive rapport.
  • The Schizoid Loner: Objectivity. Fair-minded exchange of ideas.
  • The Narcissistic Boaster: Autonomy. Confident leadership.
  • The Compulsive Controller: Discipline. Competence, with room for error.

Compass Virtues

Compass virtues are born, not of striving, but from unforced rhythms of grace. They grow from experiential trust upon the Holy Spirit coupled with relaxed growth stretches into neglected compass points. Virtues flow energetically from the alternating polarities of Love and Assertion, Weakness and Strength, as they did in Christ’s personality. Such movement creates a dynamically balanced Self Compass that provides direction in emerging life situations.

How do these virtues emerge? As personality patterns are redeemed.
When persons offer themselves to God in this transformative process, they are aligning with the full power of the Trinity. When they acknowledge their wrongs and begin the journey that will claim their entire Self Compass, they find hope in Jesus Christ: “In (Jesus) we have redemption through his blood,” Paul declares, “the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph 1:7).

For example, Redeemed Pleasers cultivate the virtue of charity as they catch it when compliance verges on placating. They recognize the curls of tension forming in their chest and stop to ask an internal question: Am I appeasing this person when both of us would be better served if I said what I really feel?

The old undercurrent of resentment caused by overly pleasing behavior now replaced by authentic love, the virtue of charity.

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