The principles or virtues the commandments promote work together. So they naturally overlap and complement each other. And if someone observes one or two, it’s more likely they’ll observe others as well. People of sincere heart and purpose act openly in the light. They act without manipulation or self-deception. They don’t hesitate to act in the light because they are of the light. And their goodness shines as a beckoning beacon to others.
I’ve worked with thousands of person’s struggling to understand and deal with various disturbed characters in their lives. And it’s been most rewarding to equip these folks with both the understanding and tools they needed to empower themselves. I’ve also worked with thousands of disturbed characters. And to have witnessed many of these individuals become better people has been the blessing of a lifetime.
People of mature character are mindful of both their decisions and their actions. They temper their urges with reason and foresight. They neither rush into action nor into judgment. Healthy characters think not only about what they’re about to do but also about the likely consequences of their choices.
All of us need to do a much better job of helping our children develop healthy self-esteem. Parents especially need to be mindful of this. And that doesn’t mean giving our children ego-boosts all the time. Rather, it means helping them develop a properly balanced sense of self-worth.
It was once widely believed that children naturally move toward positive growth unless they experience trauma of some type. But we now know that what doesn’t happen in the way of learning certain crucial life lessons is just as important to good character development as the tragic events that might beset a person and arrest or impede their character formation. And that’s what prompted me to catalog what my experience has taught me are the 10 essential “commandments” of good character development.
Becoming a better person takes a lot of deliberate, sustained effort. And you have to have the right motivation to do the work. External pressure can lead a person to make changes that are often superficial and short-lived. Genuine, lasting changes come when the motivation is internal. That happens when a person sets pride aside and willingly embraces a higher cause.
There’s a continuum of severity to character impairments, ranging from mild character immaturity to severe character dysfunction. Not all the difficult people in your life will meet the criteria established for a true character “disorder.” But that doesn’t mean that some of these folks aren’t significantly disturbed characters capable of making your life miserable. The degree of character impairment a person has, however, does have a lot to do with how likely it is they might change (with the right type of intervention).
Disturbed and disordered characters use blame as a tactic to manipulate those whom they know to be conscientious enough to accept all or part of the responsibility for something that’s really not their fault at all.
Because neurotic individuals tend to have fairly well-developed and sometimes even “overactive” consciences, they’re often all-too-ready to accept the blame for things when a disturbed character uses the manipulation tactic of blaming.
The tragedy we witnessed two days ago is an old, old story becoming far too commonplace in our character-deficient age. We live in a complicated, demanding world and there are too many among us who never developed the character resources to deal adaptively with life’s challenges – especially failure – and to profit from their experiences, including their disappointments. It’s far too easy to just point a finger. And sadly, for too many, it’s easier still to place that same finger on a trigger and shoot.