How Big is your Character?

When last did you hear someone say “It’s character building”? Growing up, this was the standard response to any tale of hardship. It frustrated me no end. How big was my character supposed to be? When was it big enough to stop building, stop suffering? What is character anyway and why is it so important that it has to grow so big?

Character is who you are on the inside and how you present yourself to the world on the outside, your unique qualities. Years ago people spoke of virtues but now we hear about values,  habits of behaviour. Many of these are developed at a young age, without our choosing them. They are thrust upon us by parents, teachers, TV and the behaviour of others. Someone with a strong character displayed values of integrity, commitment, loyalty, ambition and perseverance. While someone who lied, cheated, was dishonest or unreliable may have been described as having weak character.

Today, I don’t hear much about character. Now we talk about rights. Bad behaviour is justified by your right to free expression or overlooked due to your sad, neglected or difficult upbringing. We use an abused past to condone our abusive behaviour, poverty gives us the right to steal and laziness is blamed on our genetics. Our younger generations are growing up without the boundaries offered by values and character. We are so concerned about adding to their stressful lives that we are stunting their characters and in so doing, we are slowly losing our own.  We excuse our physical laziness with the belief that life has become too busy for exercise. We don’t have time to cook our own nutritious food or get enough rest. “Fear Of Missing Out” has destroyed our commitment and social status has corrupted our integrity.

The world has changed so much over the last thirty years. As I have grown older, I have become more confused about who I am. I have been told I am over sensitive, up tight, prissy, a goody two shoes, too serious, old fashioned, insecure and a perfectionist. Personal development has brought my attention back to values and character. Now I realize that I value integrity, commitment, self-discipline, self-responsibility, courage and kindness. These are the character traits that are important to me. Looking back, the people who hurt me so deeply, who shamed me for these values and confused me, those people have different values.

I feel a weight lifted, unburdened. I can be me and be proud of who I am, proud of the character that I built through difficulty, endurance and perseverance. I feel huge gratitude for the lessons I learnt and the people who offered those lessons. Understanding has brought the realization that a character is never big enough. A character needs guarding and constant work. It is so easy for bad habits to creep in; little things which break down your character and diminish you. I always have the choice of who I want to be. If I find myself lacking, it is up to me to consciously fill that gap with a new value and to practice that value until it becomes habit, thereby building and strengthening my character, becoming a better human being.

Humanity is made up of characters, you and me. If I want to help the world, to better humanity, then it is up to me to stay conscious, keep learning, keep improving myself and keep moving…

It’s a Girl’s Life.

Who are you? A man may answer this by giving his name and occupation, both of which may stay more or less the same throughout his life. “I am Fred and I am a geologist.” As a woman, I have had a different experience of life. As a child I was somebody’s daughter. Then I became somebody’s girlfriend, fiancé, wife. I didn’t work then, so I was categorised as the wife. As the years passed I became pregnant and fulfilled the role of incubator for nine months, not that this became any official listing in my resume. The official appointment of Mother, on the other hand, was quickly added with the arrival of my daughter.  “I am —-‘s wife and  —‘s mother”  Unofficially, at the same time, I was the delegated milk bottle. If the baby was crying, the only one who could remedy the situation was The Milk Bottle. Mother was a really BIG job. The job description looked like this…Cook food for man and child, feed child (and later, after my second child was born, children) cleaning of children, cleaning up after man, cleaning house, nursing man and children, knowing where everything in the house could be found (including things like car keys, wallets and butter!). Later teacher of children was added as I had to home school for a number of years. Other menial jobs included driver, sport coach, peace keeper, dictionary and general helper-with-anything-and-everything.

As women, our role is re-invented every few years. We shift roles to accommodate those we love and many of the roles are never relinquished. We are forever someone’s wife, someone’s daughter, sister, mother. Each role demands different expectations, compounding over time until we have forgotten who WE are. Without these roles, who is underneath all the work?

If you find yourself resonating with this, then today is the day for you to choose to change, choose YOU over all the noise of life and start a journey of discovery. Who have you become? What do you love? What do you hate? What is your life purpose? It is never too late to start living your own life. This may feel scary and seem impossible but you don’t have to do this alone. My work as a Life Coach is to support and guide you as you find a better, more fulfilling life. Your life is yours and yours alone, to do whatever you wish. That doesn’t mean you can’t share your life with loved ones and family, it just means that you also have the right to fulfillment. To you, that may mean having a new career or a new hobby. It could be to feel more emotional stability or more spiritual connection. Before you decide that there isn’t time for such a pursuit, let me remind you that as a woman, there is never time for self unless you choose to make the time. Don’t wait until your life has passed you by. Start finding yourself today.

Once the journey has begun it’s easy to keep moving…

Inner Burdens

I spent last weekend doing the PSYCH-K® Master Facilitator course in Cape Town. The thing that stands out most is the power of this simple protocol. When you spend all those hours working together with other facilitators, there is a communal energy which fills the building and the shifts are profound.

I work alone most of the time, cut off from others in my field by mountains and the space of the little Karoo.  It is always a treat to share space with kindred spirits, sharing experience and learning new techniques. And it reaffirms the power of the work, and its ability to melt away resistance, and leave one feeling inspired and free from old tethers.

PSYCK-K® is all about removing limiting beliefs, and filling the void with new, positive and empowering belief systems. It is fascinating how we wrap our most secret truths and deepest hurts in a padding of seemingly innocuous thoughts. How many times over the weekend did I hear the words “I thought this was going to be a quick and easy balance”? The shifts were mental, physical and emotional, as we put down burdens we had been carrying around, sometimes for years.

Our subconscious is developed in the first six years of life, when we are downloading all that happens in our young lives. Unfortunately, our perceptions of our experiences are not always positive. This is how our limiting beliefs develop.  They will stay there, sabotaging our happiness until they are “reprogrammed” with better, supporting beliefs. So what is a limiting belief? Try “I am not good enough” or “Life is hard”, “There’s not enough love/money/time” or “I can’t study/do sport/lose weight.”  What is that little voice in your head saying, that inner critic? Or is your burden a memory, frozen in time, always ready to remind you that you are unworthy? The burden of things carried silently within us grows with every passing year. How do we put down these burdens? Where do we even begin?

The PSYCH-K® process is gentle and non-invasive. It is not necessary to rehash past hurts and talk about them endlessly. You can address past, present or future issues without sharing the details, very effectively. As your facilitator, I am there as a guide, to accompany you through your process, in a safe and supportive way. You can even work via telephone or internet, just as effectively, so no need to travel to find a facilitator. And just by the way, you are never too old to shift a limiting belief or to put down a burden.

The lighter the load, the easier it is to keep moving…