Character awareness is more than just knowing how much character matters. It’s being fully conscious and conscientious about one’s own character. And it’s properly assessing the character of our relationships and relationship partners. Darkness always descends upon a situation where we’re too oblivious. And that’s especially true when it comes to matters of character. For if there’s anything events in recent years should have taught us, it’s how much unnecessary pain can ensue when we dismiss the importance of character.
Most of the time, we all operate on an automatic drive of sorts. We let our habits, urges, and desires, define our moments of encounter. Sometimes we come to our senses, but usually after the fact. But when we’re fully aware, we’re faced with a most daunting dillemma. Will do we act reflexively, as we’ve become programed to act, or will we do as we ardently hope others would act toward us? And this choice applies not only how we behave toward others but also how we treat ourselves.
Character Matters All the Time and Everywhere
You can certainly lack character awareness. But you can’t escape character and its importance. Societies and cultures have certain characters. Businesses and organizations also have different characters. And, of course, all of our relationships have a character to them. And whatever that particular character is, it will either be relatively benign and growth-inspiring, or toxic in some way and conflict-fostering.
All my years of training and experience have brought me to one point. It’s the same point that the famous psychologist Martin E.P. Seligman came to, and who I quote in the opening pages of Character Disturbance (see p. 18). Character matters. Perhaps more than anything. And perhaps now more than ever before. (See: Character Matters Now More Than Ever.)
We have it within us to be more than animals. And growing ourselves emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually is what this life is all about. Moreover, our survival and prosperity depend on us getting this task right. That’s only part of why I’ve dedicated my career to facilitating character awareness. The path to integrity begins with understanding and accepting the pivotal importance of character.
And Old Familiar Wish for a New Year
This year has been a challenging one in many ways. But it’s brought us unparrelelled opportunities for learning important lessons, especially the importance of character. It’s also been an amazing year for consultations. That’s because for the first time ever, requests from folks seeking to grow in character approache the number of requests from folks dealing with toxic personalities. So, my hope for the new year is the same as always. I hope my work inspires the kind of growth in folks that will help change the character of our world for the better.
Wishing everyone a happy, prosperous, and fulfiling New Year!
4 thoughts on “Character Awareness Lighting The Way”
All the best for the New Year Dr Simon!
I am enjoying the recent posts. Let there be light.
This article comes at a time when I’m reflecting on a friendship I’ve had for many years. I was secure in the thought that this friend and I would know each other well into old age. We’ve laughed a lot over the years, we have spent many hours discussing the fallout of our marriages to CD ex spouses who were best friends. Her marriage story is much longer than mine and she suffered a lot more too, and we’ve maintained a bond despite those exes. Thankfully my now H of 38 years gets along with my friend very well so the get togethers before Covid had always been fun and casual.
There are many moving parts to the family of my friend so it’s not hard for me to understand why there are many ups and downs in their dynamic. My friend had a roller coaster relationship with her two daughters for as long as I can remember. I speak in the past tense because my friend and I have decided we needed to step away from our friendship for awhile. The reason being, was the difference of opinion in adhering to Covid health guidelines. Just for clarification we do not live in the U.S.
My friend never remarried, she has had a couple of failed relationships with men who hid their CD side for about a year and then whoa their true selves came out. She is single now and lives alone. Every thought in her head is spoken out loud. It can be draining but entertaining as well. She felt our visits were therapeutic. Her words not mine. I think her dependence on my ability to listen may have blurred boundaries a bit, and I did suggest she get help through some difficulties but she refused. Her family dynamic is rife with drama but they have a strong undeniable allegiance to each other. My friend has a sister she does not confide in but my friend said to me “my sister M could say anything to me and I would forgive her.”
My friend works full time in an industry that is Covid protected. There has not been one nickel of lost income, she will never know the threat of eviction, or have a shortage of food. She has three adult children their partners and nine grandchildren. My H and I are comfortably retired with one front line worker daughter. My friend has one front line worker son.
What I started noticing was the lack or omission of empathy outside of her immediate family. My H received money from the government and we donated it to a couple of local charities. My friend received the same amount and put it towards appliances she’d already ordered. I realize I’m sounding petty. Again in my thinking it is the lack of empathy towards our own community who are suffering financially that made me realize she’s been like this all along even before Covid. If one of her family members was raising money to help bears poop in the woods more easily she’d be all in, but if a local organization was asking for a hand she ignores it. Regardless of that cheque she was buying the appliances anyway.
In a conversation she explained to me that her daughter went out with her partner, her employer and his wife. My friends daughter sat next to her employer who was symptomatic but blew it off to go out for dinner. At that particular moment in time the guideline was to not dine out with anyone except people in your own household. All four of these people are in the hospitality industry. My reaction was benign until the next morning when the case count was the highest ever. We have been in lock down for weeks now and it went into lock down within 2 weeks of this conversation. My friend would often sigh and say “ I know I shouldn’t see all my grandchildren so much.” then another sigh. I really started losing feeling for her.
When my friend described her daughters “need” to go out that’s when I got upset. I expressed that the frontline workers are begging people in our city to stay home and to stay in a small bubble. She said “well there are those who follow the rules to a tee and those who don’t.” She went on to add “L was hysterical when she was telling me about her boss testing positive because it put her (my friend) in close contact too.” “What if you die!!!? It’ll be all my fault!?” I was fed up at this point. My friend had babysat that night. Then said “ but I could’ve sworn L said she needed a night out with the girls, she didn’t say it was with her boss and his wife.”
Because of contact tracing five of my friends family including herself went for testing at the end of October but I’ve never known the results. It’s my opinion from past conversations with my good friend that her daughters hysterics were a deflection, I am positive she gaslit her mother about needing a night out with the girls as opposed to going out with her employer, his wife and her partner. I did not share that thought with my friend but I did say “ if L does not have Covid I’m sure she will find another reason to not comply with the guidelines.” Her response was “it has never been my intention for you to dislike my daughters.” This coming from someone who has repeatedly told me “I love my daughters but I don’t like them.” and I said, “ from personal experiences I would have figured them out myself.” (One of them is incredibly rude and the other one is almost as bad.)
My friend told me on a different occasion that they are like that to everyone, and I asked “is that an excuse” and she said “no it’s the truth.” I had not one clue as to how to respond to that. Do you?
I hope if you’ve read this in it’s entirety that you haven’t fallen asleep. Honestly I don’t know what to feel. My friend has admitted that she rarely reads the paper or watches the news because “it’s all so negative” – my friend texted me in Nov. to say happy birthday and I thanked her, I texted her Christmas Eve and she replied with a thank you and on New Year’s Day she sent well wishes and hopes for a better year. I said the same. I have asked my daughter and my H their opinions because I’ve lost that lovin feeling for my friend. I am one flawed person talking about another flawed person and I know this. I also know that people react differently in this pandemic and I’ve read that many friendships have bitten the dust due to this type of predicament. I’d appreciate opinions. Thanks for letting me bend your ear.
I’d also like to add that my friend was uncharacteristically defensive about her daughters actions to go out, I can only presume they were enjoying a more amicable period in their relationship. It rarely lasts but my friend gets lulled into hopefulness. I’m always there to listen when it fails.
I would like to wish you a very Happy New Year! Your work has been a tremendous help to myself and 2 other family members! You can’t imagine how much!
I have been through some rough stuff in my life with my family of origin as well as the people whom I’ve come to know throughout my life.
Just recently my character disturbed siblings had just contacted me as a group. They did so with the intention of ignoring me, can you imagine that? A group text just to ignore me.
I had wished them all a beautiful Christmas filled with love joy and peace. Not a word back to me only to each other. In fact they used the opportunity to mock me so I could see that they were ignoring me personally but making fun of what I had said to them?
Another group text came to me for New Years. Of course I didn’t answer or say anything to them Obviously, they weren’t interested in a relationship so why bother.
So since I didn’t answer one sibling decided to text me personally and ask me if “I was bothered by something”. Basically asking why I’m not saying anything?
I told my husband, isn’t it interesting that she used the word bothered?
I said to him if I answered her back I’d say “Do you mean am I disturbed by your character?”
My son said I should say just that. I told him no I’m not interested in a pack of disturbed characters. Nothing to gain there!
It made me realize though how much You have helped me find the answer to the question I’ve been asking myself AND God all these years!!!
Ever since I was a little girl I watched my family interact together. We were a family of 7 back then. We were in one house but it was never truly a home. Rife with abuse, I would always say to myself “Why are they acting like this???”
Dr. Simon, you have helped me answer that question and this Christmas season I blessed my siblings again with love and in return I received their hatred. It didn’t hurt this time though, I actually FELT FREE!!!
As I thought about what they did, how they responded, I was reminded that God’s people perish from lack of knowledge. I am NO LONGER in the dark as to why they behave this way! Therefore, I am no longer feeling like I am dying!
Backstory, when I left home at 16 with my firstborn back in the early ’80’s I became plagued with suicidal thoughts. The abuse from home I longed to escape only intensified as my 19 yr old “husband” abused me terribly.
This past year my siblings were hiding from me a family secret. My dad at age 19 got a 16 yr old girl pregnant and she gave up the baby. My dad had run away to the National Guard and projected himself to our family as a hero of sorts.
I just met my 70 yr old half sibling this year through facebook. She looks just like my dad.
My dad was extremely abusive towards me when he found out I was pregnant but to everyone else he acted like OH BOY I’ve never been a grandfather. And trust me he never did act like one.
I have forgiven my dad over and over throughout his lifetime. I even let him walk me down the aisle when I got married again! I was born again and so I had an actual wedding!
I look back and I realize I am loving, forgiving, and finally AT PEACE about them all!
So God Bless You Dr Simon, you have truly helped me!!!