“It builds character.”
You’ve surely heard the phrase at least once in your life. Generally, that statement is said to a person after something negative has happened in their lives that they must now overcome. So, by now, you’ve probably heard it at least once.
Look, life is tough. It just is. I understand the struggles surrounding getting older, becoming parents and grandparents, upsizing, downsizing, illness, career transitions, grief – this list goes on and on. How you handle the ups and downs of life makes all the difference and can indeed build character.
What Exactly Is “Character?”
Admittedly, the definition of “character” is somewhat abstract.
I define it as having a set of abilities required to meet the demands of reality. Most of the time, we are not really in control of what’s happening around us. That’s okay. It’s part of God’s plan for us.
As you know, life has many requirements to function. As you get older, it goes from making the bed and tying your shoelaces to finding your life’s passion, marrying the right person, having a family, and eventually retiring to enjoy your golden years. All of that “stuff” requires character because none of it is easy at the outset.
To make life work, you must focus on character growth first, and not just the results you want in the end.
Why Is Character Growth Important?
There are two main reasons character growth is so critical to all aspects of your life.
First, everything starts with who you are on the inside. Who you are shapes how you behave. How you behave then becomes how you relate and how you relate becomes how you succeed.
So, it starts with the inside and works outward. We all want great relationships. Character growth allows how we are on the inside to create the warmth that radiates around us.
Secondly, character is important because life has lots of demands. They can be simple or they can be as complicated. Either way, life is demanding and your character shapes how you approach and handle these situations.
The Four Components of Good Character
Now, I’m going to break down the four components of good character. These will make all the difference for having a successful life.
- Attachment: Attachment is the ability to trust and be vulnerable, to be able to open up to people and create a support network. These could be people who end up on your life team. You also understand that not everyone is safe or meant to be a part of that. Attachment means finding the right people to provide the nutrients you need for growth. Read about how to create your life team here.
- Separation: Separation means the ability to have your own voice, make your own choices, and to be a free person. Because some people are very attached, they have relationships, but they feel guilty about speaking up and about disagreeing and confronting. This means they don’t have good boundaries. Separation and attachment need to balance each other out as you work on your character.
- Integration: Integration means there are two kinds of realities in our life: There’s the positive realities of my strengths, good people, good experiences, and great mission in life. But, there are also negative realities, like my own brokenness, my own failure, my own losses, my own pains, how other people let me down, and how I’ve let other people down. Integration means I can live with the positives very well and I can embrace the negatives at the same time.
- Maturity: Maturity means I am confident in who I am and I know why I’m here. Maybe you’ve raised a great family and have a wonderful career. Maybe you’ve learned to walk away from negative relationships. Maturity also means being able to take everyone’s needs into consideration when making important decisions, including your own.
So, what now? In your own life, start identifying those four character growth components and see where you have room for growth.