Those two words can bring up all kinds of memories and images for people. Sending young children off to boarding school to ‘develop their character’, sending young men into military service because it is ‘character building’ etc. But, what does that phrase really mean? And, who is responsible for developing our character anyway?
Let me ask you a question. How much of your energy to you give away during the course of a day to people, situations and events over which you have no control? The answer is likely to be ‘quite a lot’. Most people will go through life unconsciously, not truly ‘living’ every moment. How often has a festive season come along and you’ve asked yourself ‘Where did that year go?’ How many times were you fully present, how much of it did you really live?
So, if we take that example and transfer it to the phrase character development, I will ask another question. How much of the development of your character have you taken ownership of, and how much have you delegated (unwittingly) to others? Have you gone through life unconsciously handing over responsibility for your experiences to those around you – parents, siblings, teachers, partners, or have you taken control of your growth and decided how and when you have developed the character you were born with and become the person you were born to be?
When the world is your oyster
The only life we have responsibility for is ours. The only character we have the right to develop is ours. Other people’s journey is their responsibility, to try to control how they develop is disempowering of both them and us. All we can do is create a safe space for people to be who they truly are and support them as and when asked. That is all we can ask of others too. But, a lot of people live in blame. It is easy to ‘pass the buck’ of responsibility for our lives to everyone around us, rather than to recognise we are ultimately alone in our journey through this human experience. Once we do accept this fact, however, life actually becomes a lot less stressful and a lot more fun! When we fully absorb the knowledge that we can reclaim our lost energy and become fully present within our bodies and our emotions, we can also relish the joy of knowing that anything is possible. From that centre of optimism, we can develop our character in any direction we choose, without judgement or censor. From that strong, grounded and rooted centre the world is, quite simply, your oyster.
I spent many years in my younger life giving away control. Understandable to a degree, when we are children we look to the adults to guide us. At times that guidance was not all it should have been, which resulted in me making, at times, very unwise choices, particularly personally. As traumatic as the result of some of those choices were, they also offered me the opportunity for growth. It was back in 1991, I was 31 and had just come out of marriage number two. I was sitting there thinking, “Why has this happened to me, I’m a good woman, what have these men got in common?” Then it occurred to me, “That would be me then”! Whilst they were guilty of their behaviour, they were not 100% to blame. It was only once I had taken ownership and responsibility for my role was I able to change my future. I recognised that I had lived in blame for too long and energetically I was attracting the wrong people into my life.
Take back control
As I say to my clients, “If you want to change the reflection from the world’s mirror, you need to change the energy you put into the glass.” Since I changed the energy I put into the glass, the reflection has been fabulous!
So, take back control, reclaim your lost energy, stand proud in the centre of your magnificence, look around you at the world and decide which strands of opportunity you wish to explore and develop. The strong thread of owning your life experiences will ensure you remain rooted to the earth and will always keep you safe. Embrace life with the inner confidence that you can achieve anything you set your mind to, and with the mind set that is willing to take ownership and responsibility for your journey, your decisions and your reactions.