Becoming a Better Person

The tragedy of our times is that far too many folks lack the attributes of character necessary to function in a mature, responsible way.  It’s a problem that affects every single aspect of our lives. But we all have it within us to be better persons.  Make no mistake, becoming a better person is no easy task. For one thing, many of us have traits in our personalities that make it particularly challenging for us to attain healthy self-mastery. And there are aspects of modern culture that make the task even more difficult.  A climate of narcissism, self-indulgence, entitlement, moral relativism – all factors that “enable,” promote, and even reward poor character – makes it hard even for a well-intended person to rise above the negative influences around them to forge a solid character.  Add to all this the fact that many of us emerge from our formative environments either too emotionally scarred or too “unprepared” life lesson-wise to lead a life of integrity.  So, becoming a better person is a real challenge to be sure. But with the right motivation, guidance and support, it’s an achievable task.

All my books have dealt with character in one way or another.  In Sheep’s Clothing exposed those who, despite outward charm and civility, are ruthlessly conniving, manipulative, and controlling.  And Character Disturbance explained the inner workings of all the unhealthy personalities you’re likely to encounter, from “garden variety narcissists to heartless psychopaths.  It also explained why traditional psychological perspectives and intervention methods are so unhelpful in dealing with these types.  My most recent book, How Did We End Up Here?, is meant to help those who’ve found themselves in the midst of or trying to recover from a toxic relationship, scratching their heads about how things got to where they are and how they can manage not only to pick up the pieces and move on but also to minimize the chances they’ll be victimized again. It’s a practical guide to “surviving and thriving in a character-disordered world.”

My book The Judas Syndrome was the first to explore just what it takes for a troubled soul to find higher purpose and how genuine faith can truly save a person from their baser self. And soon, I’ll be releasing another book, again with co-author Kathryn Armistead, on the essential building blocks of character.  It will greatly expand upon the “10 commandments of character development” I first introduced in Character Disturbance and explores in depth the principles and crucial life lessons one must embrace to forge a sound, healthy character as well as how to best advance these principles and lessons in our character-impaired age.  Becoming a better person has never been an easy task. But it’s even more challenging in our times.  Kathy and I hope our new book will help advance this most noble cause.

Over the next several weeks, and in anticipation of the new book’s publication, I’ll be posting several articles on character development issues.  These articles will be interspersed with other timely articles on how to cope with those who have failed to learn the lessons necessary to become a better person.


I’m pleased to announce that after a week’s delay, the Kindle version of How Did We End Up Here? is now available on Amazon.

This weekend’s Character Matters program will again be a live program, so I can take your phone calls.


30 thoughts on “Becoming a Better Person

  1. I just ordered “How did we end up here?” I’m looking forward to some guidance on how to deal with these character disordered people. There are so many in so many different parts of my life. From my soon to be ex husband, to my brother and his wife to my former employer (which was an Episcopalian church) and all the countless parents that think their child is the best player on the team. I can’t escape it.
    Dr. Simon did you mention on your radio program that you were going to write about the ten commandments of character and how to teach it to children in your new book?

      1. Dr. Simon,
        It has been 10 years since I read your eye opening work In Sheep’s Clothing, looking for an answer to the disturbing conduct displayed in my marriage and the dysfunction in other family members and others in society.

        Your initial book became my foundation of study which took me on a journey of 100’s of books on the subject of psychoanalytical study of mental disorders by the top psychiatrists in their field of research.

        Your second book on Character Disturbance further explained these individuals and this phenomena of our times that is of epidemic proportion.

        Your third book the Judas Syndrome gave insight into the Judaeo Christian relationship to this phenomena. This book relieved much of the guilt in the perpetrators behavioral perspectives and accountability which is projected onto others. The Judas Syndrome also provided a vehicle for change, the proverbial “Come to Jesus Moment.”

        In the meantime it should be any day now I receive 2 copies of your fourth book How did we get Here.

        How Did We Get Here? What a fitting name! I have asked myself that question so many times. How did he or she get where they are? How did I get here? So many speculations and theories, 1000’s of hours of reading and research and in the end the answer boils down to the simplicity of

        Doing the Right Thing and Being Accountable for my Actions

        In essence the simplicity of the 10 Commandments

        Love thy neighbor as thyself and Do unto Others as you would have them do to you.

        In all this, as many tears as I have shed for the loss of my loved ones, living with and understanding the sickness of the CD the knowledge of what it takes to heal them, knowing I still am helpless to do their work. I know the answers but they can’t or refuse to hear.

        What a journey this Bonfire of the Vanities and out the wreckage I have decided with all my willpower to take back my life, my will, my desire, my self respect, my personhood, my joy, my peace and become the best I can be. To give to society, reach out and touch others who are struggling and need help.

        Years of sadness and bondage, but I have the power to take the sadness and turn it into to joy, to love my fellow man, to reach out and love instead of hate, truth instead of lies, courage instead of fear, hope instead of dread, reality instead of fantasy. Out of the wreckage I have been blessed and I must never forget this.

        I don’t know when the pain will leave in seeing a broken and lost soul that refuses the simple answer to reach out and ask God for forgiveness and to be the real authentic person they are inside, to grow up and be a mature a man or women. To be a productive part of society.

        Through all this I can forgive, the forgiveness sets ME Free. I will never forget or feel sorry for, I will always expect full responsibility and sincere accountability for past actions.

        The forgiveness sets me free, to be me, to release the concrete blocks that chock the life out of me and hold me back, continually shedding another chain that binds me. Indeed an amazing journey of triangulation and crazy making.

        The new journey to be me, the authentic me that loves mankind and wants to see happiness and joy in others. An opportunity of a lifetime to know I can make a difference.

        Thank you Dr. Simon for loving us, nurturing so many and making the difference in the lives of the victims of the CD. Giving us the tools to understand and take back our lives and possibly that of our loved ones to make a difference in this world even if its One person at a time.

        Blessings to all

        1. Accept that to suffer is life
          That done, you don’t focus on strife
          The good – one enjoys
          The bad – background noise
          The ugly – that happens in life

  2. When I was away. The area I was staying reminded me of a place Much,much closer to home.
    I was looking around, and a guy said “Are you lost”

    I said” No. This place reminds me of…….”

    He immediately said”I will not hold that against you”

    I said” That is very Rude thing to say”

    He said” I was only joking”

    I said ” You are making excuses”

    He said”No I am not. I was only joking”

    I said “Now you are lying”
    ( I thought “ball in your court boy”.)
    And walked off.
    He made no attempt to applogise. Just made more excuses.

    Becoming a better person. I Judged HIS ACTIONS AND NOT HIS INTENTIONS. I am on my way Dr Simon

    1. Joey,
      Thought you would be gone for awhile, btw loved Keaten. I will have to find something for you.

      Another question I found the character individuals dislike immensely is ;
      What do you mean by that? They hate to be questioned.

      If someone asks me that question I find it an opportunity to express my feelings or opinion further.

        1. Hi, this is E I wrote the above comment to BTOV but it looks like BTOV replied to her/his own comment.
          Do not know why this is happening but it is not the first time my name has changed when I post.

      1. Another word they hate is Goodbye. Wait 5-6-10 seconds then, call their name to attracted their attention. Then say byeee and wave. If you like make a song and dance of it. Wave vigorously and call out ggggooooood bbbyyyeeeeee. Then leave quickly, to prevent any reply. They are Nackard. Stuffed. There is Nothing the can do.

        Have A Nice Day
        by Spike Milligan

        ‘Help, help, ‘ said a man. ‘I’m drowning.’
        ‘Hang on, ‘ said a man from the shore.
        ‘Help, help, ‘ said the man. ‘I’m not clowning.’
        ‘Yes, I know, I heard you before.
        Be patient dear man who is drowning,
        You, see I’ve got a disease.
        I’m waiting for a Doctor J. Browning.
        So do be patient please.’
        ‘How long, ‘ said the man who was drowning. ‘Will it take for the Doc to arrive? ‘
        ‘Not very long, ‘ said the man with the disease. ‘Till then try staying alive.’
        ‘Very well, ‘ said the man who was drowning. ‘I’ll try and stay afloat.
        By reciting the poems of Browning
        And other things he wrote.’
        ‘Help, help, ‘ said the man with the disease, ‘I suddenly feel quite ill.’
        ‘Keep calm.’ said the man who was drowning, ‘ Breathe deeply and lie quite still.’
        ‘Oh dear, ‘ said the man with the awful disease. ‘I think I’m going to die.’
        ‘Farewell, ‘ said the man who was drowning.
        Said the man with the disease, ‘goodbye.’
        So the man who was drowning, drownded
        And the man with the disease past away.
        But apart from that,
        And a fire in my flat,
        It’s been a very nice day.

        1. Joey,
          I have been popping in between cleaning and other tasks.

          BRAVO!!!!!! I had such a delightful belly laugh. I love the word Nackard I know you are English, what does it mean?

          1. Knackered” meaning tired, exhausted or broken. When a horse was fininshed with in 1800. You would send it to the Knackers yard. To turn it into glue. The Knacker man would collect it.

      2. My STBX will NEVER answer a question forthright. He answers with a question. And in the answer is always a half statement. Just wait till he takes the stand in court. It’s going to be a circus. I guess they think answering a question takes away their power and control? I’m beginning to really understand the CDN way of thinking.

        1. Lucy,
          He has hit a bottom but he may have to hit more bottoms and for some the bottom no matter how ridiculous will never acquiesce to humility. I know its painful to watch someone you love or loved turn into this pathetic fool of fools. Pray that through all this, he has a proverbial Come to Jesus Moment like Dr. Simon talks about. In that he needs to except the truth, that being he is not all that and more. He needs to be humbled. It amounts to Humility or Humiliation.

          In answering a question your STBX feels he is showing weakness, he answers to no one, he is above questioning, and the games begin, because he sits on the throne, he is the King of Fools and doesn’t realize the Emperor has no clothes.

          Let him say whatever he choses to say, let him be the Jester of a fool he is. In the end he will hang his own self. From what you have said he will continue to lash out and protect himself. The only thing you can do is hold him accountable for the things he has done and protect yourself and your assets. Otherwise, he will gladly and most willingly take you with him.

          Blessings and peace be with you, I will continue to pray for you.

          1. Losing professional license, having addictions, losing a business, losing a spouse, losing lots of money, losing respect in the community would be bottom for me, but you’re all right, he has not hit his bottom. He is still doing nasty needs. Is not at all humbled and I don’t believe he ever will be. He is too far gone. The bottom for a “normal” person is much different than a CDN’s bottom.

  3. Anyone happen to have seen Jackie lately?

    It may be confusing that a few times I impulsively posted only to notice it was with her handle.

    Jackie herself has plenty of helpful things to say to people, so hopefully she can get time to post here if other hurries have required her time.

    1. Timothy,
      Lets hope she is just enjoying a vacation. Or what do people in Europe call it?
      I know I have things coming up too and at times just didn’t have time. This site seem like and extended support group and all the regular posters take on personalities. Miss LisaO too and so many others.

      Timothy, if you don’t mind I can remember your exact contact with the CD, if you don’t mind repeating then I have a better understanding of your posts. One day when I have time I will reread the archives.

    2. I think I relayed the incidents to you not too long ago. Or perhaps it was someone else? I easily get tired of repeating myself too much, but I could copypasta it if I stumble upon it.

      Oh, but I’ve had several incidents with different people and many of them kinda seem to blend together, ya know? Very odd.

      1. Timothy,

        It’s difficult when people come and go so fast to remember their personal experiences they shared. I know it can be cumbersome, just like my repeating the story of my sis which I did at length in an earlier post. Their are times I am away or get so busy I don’t have time to read the blog. It nice though when posters that are regular have more and it creates a stronger bond.

        When I find the post I did on my sis I’ll try to cut and paste.

        I understand too, there seems to be so many CD one runs into nowadays.


      2. And “your” email flashed again, BTOV. Or do you really have seven different emails?

        Anyway, many less honest people I’ve run into seem pretty similar. Pretty ironic considering how I wondered when younger how many kinds of nasties there seem to be.

        I have a new word that might be apt to capture the different kinds of unhealthy people: pathologicals

  4. I think I am going to get this new book.

    Reason being is that it is all most three years and I still have this little compulsion to check my e mails to see if he has contacted me. It doesn’t drive my life like it once did but the silence bothers me.

    I suppose he much be happy where he is (up North in a new job) so he is not contacting me. Doesn’t need anything. Or he has found a new “soul mate” to pick up the pieces. Hard to tell.

    I have found a new job in product demonstration that was to be my fun job in pre-retirement, however, I have excelled at selling so well that my boss calls me The Killer since I am hitting and exceeding goal on any product he gives me. Who knew!

    I am being trained to sell farm and ranch equipment now. The big rigs. Who knew! Times must be a changing given that I am no young pup, am a woman, and a little one at that but I am being put into “a man’s world” to sell. Who knew!

    Well, anyone knows that behind the scenes it is the woman that signs the checks. Do I think my boss would admit that . NO. But he thinks I can sell anything. But that is not true. I just educate people about the product, make sure I am selling a good product and if they aren’t interested, that is fine, when they come back and I am selling another product that product may fit their life more. I cannot and will not sell a sub standard product or a product that I do not believe they can afford or that they cannot use.

    That is why I think I am successful at this. What did that circus guy say about people.

    You can fool some of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

    So there you have it. Can I sell the big rigs. Don’t know. But if it is a good product then I will say probably and let them make up their own minds. With my help, of course.

    Theresa Maria

    1. Theresa K

      Congratulations in your success. Sounds like you surprised yourself. Sometimes we don’t even know our potential.
      As for checking your emails, I can understand doing that. It’s such a trauma to deal with CDs that it’s difficult to break the way we think. I ordered the book and it is on its way. I’m still going through divorcing the CDN and it’s a nightmare, but this blogging sure does help.
      AND this week I’ve started doing Tai Chi videos. Did it twice yesterday in my office for about 10 minutes each time. I am surprised at how much it affected my brain and emotions and tension. I felt so much less stress at the end of the workday – and it was a bad day dealing with STBXs crap. I was actually in a good mood regardless of the onslaught from him.
      I wish you continued success and I totally understand the “wondering about the X”. It’s unhealthy though.

  5. There are a few things I am doing to become a better person. One is to come to grips with a highly anxious personality and try to make sure it remains my problem. I don’t want to make anyone I am interacting with feel bad in any way.

    The other — and it relates to the same thing — is to try to be as gentle as I can with people who are having their own stress related issues and either lashing out or appearing to be unwelcoming, unfriendly or pis**d off. That is a tougher one.

    Nobody likes that attitude but my reaction, whether I show it or not, is an over reaction. And that can be the result of feeling ill, over tired, or being ‘offended’. The offended part is, of course, ego related. The more solid and secure I feel, the less of an issue that is.

    It has all been such an amazing journey, working on myself since my husband passed away; understanding that overcoming myself is paramount and key to my life’s work here, before I pass away myself. It does get easier to take our own character flaws on, with age. I with I had been less defended, and had more insight about myself when I was younger. I can point my finger at others, all I want. Ultimately, though, I know and have always known that I ‘need work’.

    Thanks to Dr. simon for all of his wisdom and the example he sets here on his own blog.
    His own approach helps to facilitate these necessary changes.

  6. I found this profile. Some of it is true , some not. BUT ! it is as close as I can get to describing my life with the mother/grandmother

    These parents are irrational, insensitive, and focused on themselves. Many are often impulsive and unstable. Some are just plain mean to their children.
    Immature or aggressive parents are the ones whose children seek the most help. That isn’t surprising when you consider that these personalities are the most upsetting and damaging.
    Children of parents with (immature or aggressive personality’s sense from their earliest age that they often do not seem to matter very much to their own parent.) With some of these parents, the only time the child’s existence does seem to matter is typically when the parent needs or wants something the child can provide. The child is not a person to be discovered and supported, but is often viewed as competition, as a means to some end, such as a household servant or simply an unwelcome inconvenience.
    Invalidation, dramatic outbursts, manipulation, dishonesty, insensitivity, ultimatums, anger and emotional instability are common in these parents. Their expectations of their children are unreasonable, and their children often come second to the parents’ wishes and emotional needs. Parents in this category have distorted expectations, fragile (or overblown) egos, and difficulty placing other peoples’ needs over their own. This difficulty placing others’ needs before themselves is in direct opposition to the role of parenthood, which requires an unselfish and compromising manner. Many of these parents seek some form of attention, assistance, or obedience at any cost. Their families are highly dysfunctional, and far too focused on the parents’ needs, emotions and wishes.
    Adult children of these parents emerge from childhood feeling worthless, insecure, guilty and divorced from their authentic selves – their own needs, wants, and values. They are full of fears and worries, and may have only a dim awareness of who they really are. Whether they force themselves into over-achievement to cover up the feelings of inadequacy or simply flounder about aimlessly, the typical child of these parents is (one way or another) not enjoying life very much, and never really has.


    1. Joey,
      So beautifully said, I wish I could put my arms around you and hold you. You are finding your way out of the dysfunction and see the truth. Remember, it really has nothing to do with you. They are the way they are because that is probably the way they were treated. It is called generational sin.

      Instead you decided to go the other path, the path to feel for others, and now you have found the door to freedom. You could had chosen to become like her and you didn’t. The same went on in my family of origin an likewise, I am here with you.

      Some very good reads are by the author Alice Miller – Drama of the Gifted Child and Soul Murder by Shengold. These books may give you further insight into the making of a narcissist. Really good books. Many times when you understand the dynamics on how these individuals were formed many times it leads to understanding and forgiveness.

      As I said before in other posts the forgiveness that you give sets you free of the hurt of abandonment and mistreatment. You can choose to never see them again, but the forgiveness will allow you the freedom to go on with you life .There will be pain and deep wounds and scars but the freedom from them is exhilarating.

      Joey, you don’t even have to tell them you forgive them. this is a gift for you, they wouldn’t understand it anyway.

      Psalm 139 by David I am fearfully and wonderfully made, that is you Joey, read this psalm if you can. If I have time I will post it for you, and all the others. You have a way of saying things and you are such a blessing to this blog. So many times I have read your poems and words and they brought a smile and inspired my day.

      We may be rejected by our families but on this blog we have found kinship and an understanding beyond most people. We are all kindred spirits on this journey, thank you for the outpouring of you soul. It is joyous to see you grow and know that I may do likewise.

      God bless you and may you find the peace, joy, love and the understanding we all need.and deserve.

  7. Many of these parents seek some form of attention, assistance, or obedience at any cost. Their families are highly dysfunctional, and far too focused on the parents’ needs, emotions and wishes.

    When I whent back to collect my belongings. I have been replaced by the grandchildren. She will be a player to the end and knowingly so !

    The last thing the mother said to me was F~~~ing shut your mouth.

    1. Joey,
      I am so sorry, I can understand your pain and rejection. The last words from your mother, were spewed full of anger because you made the break. I am so happy for you, it took so much courage to walk away.

      Joey, your mother is a sick distorted individual and in the end, you succeeded to break away from her control and take back yourself. She is angry about that, she will stew on that till the day she dies that she couldn’t destroy you.

      Whatever , you do Do Not in any way be like her. Someone I loved with all my heart I had to walk away from. They became, like their sick twisted MOTHER what they Hated most they became. Never be like them, but be cautious because when we are sensitive we can end up attracting the same.

      What is so beautiful is now you get to become YOU! Be free, throw off those chains with all the concrete barbed anchors she tried to embed in you.

      Your soul is free, fill it with love, learning, giving to mankind to make this a better world. Read Dr. Simons book the Judas Syndrome it will help you heal, and yes more than anything God loves you.

      Its difficult to place those feelings somewhere, to trust, to forget and be at peace. I try to imagine cubby holes, pigeon holes to sort out my feelings. You seem to read a lot, The Screw Tapes by C. W. Lewis.

      Joey, I believe in God with all my heart, for me I have taken my troubles and laid them at the foot of the Cross. When something becomes unbearable for me to carry I give it to Jesus. I say “Lord this is to much for me, please it is your will be done.” There at the foot of the cross I have let go of many sorrows, Good Friday is coming and I will humbly get on my knees and give what I can to Jesus, the trouble is when I Can’t Let Go.

      This is what I have done to help me heal and to let go. I can never forget many of the things that have happened to me. There is deep sorrow, however, I do believe I can find love and acceptance. Hugs Joey, I’ll pretend your my Man hug today!

      Many Blessings

  8. Departure Platform

    by Thomas Hardy

    Under the lamplight’s fitful glowers,
    Behind dark groups from far and near,
    Whose interests were apart from ours,
    She would disappear.

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