Character Development! 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 do 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?
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 to 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 on 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.
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. Enjoy!
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