003A. How to Build Character: The Path to Personal Development

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Key Quote

“The path one must take to return to their authentic self and then build their character from there is not an easy one. But it is invaluable.” – Wesley Jackson

Episode Summary

• Wesley Jackson details a conflict he had within himself from childhood until now, which stemmed from trauma and caused him to feel that much of his life has been robbed from him.
• To move forward and resolve this, he began to revisit who he is, build back his character and practice self-compassion. 
• To do this, he gained insight from books and therapies; he identified negative thinking patterns and transformed the way he thought; and he experienced an increase in self-confidence and a decrease in anxiety. 
• The lesson is that building character is not easy but invaluable; it starts with listening to oneself without judgement; and having control over one’s own story & power.

Full Transcript

[00:00:00] Wesley Jackson: Picture this. After years of trauma, you’re left feeling that much of your life has been robbed from you. You’ve been a human doormat for most of your life, and now you’re angry, depressed, and disillusioned. All of this has already happened, it’s in the past. But, how do you move forward? How would you resolve this?

In today’s self-help podcast episode, I detail a conflict that I had within myself throughout 2021 and 2022. It all started during my childhood. I then talk about how this story opened up a larger journey into habits and the impact that this had on my life. Lastly, I reflect on why this story is a valuable lesson on how to build character and how large of a role it can play in our lives.

Welcome to Surviving Humanity: A Self-Help Podcast, where we shift your perspective to help you overcome the obstacles in your life.

We are Wesley Jackson and Andrew Gilley, and we hope to foster a sense of connection and community over our common struggles while providing you with tools to overcome them.

As always, our Facebook, Subreddit, and Twitter are the best places to go for community, connection, and support. Links to these are in the show notes.

Let’s get started.

So, I’ve spent a lot of my life living for other people; trying to make them happy always at my expense. When I was treated poorly, I just sucked it up, burying my thoughts and emotions as best as I could.

Because of my traumas, I allowed myself to become a human doormat. The sad thing is that for a long time, a part of me felt that I even deserved to be treated this way.

What this pattern led to was a void of character and a denial of self. I wasn’t being myself, I was being someone else to appease other people and satisfy whatever their expectations were of me, whether they were implicit or explicit.

Ultimately, I had to embark on a journey to revisit who I am and find my identity again, a journey to build back my character. This journey all began really after my traumatic bicycle crash in Vietnam back in December 2020. After this event, I realized that I was pushing myself far too hard, for far too long in the attempt to live up to the expectations of others, namely my dad.

And this was the case really, for most of my life. He was, and still is in some ways my hero, despite everything, and I never wanted to let him down, allowing him to push me to excel at all costs.

This was further exacerbated by the type A behavior pattern that he had handed down to me. So, this translated into a complete lack of boundaries and self-worth as a result.

This carried over into pretty much every type of relationship I later had in life. I was always eager to please and feeling guilty or ashamed at the slightest chance of being perceived as a failure.

So I can trace my conflict of character back throughout my childhood. I historically have never spoken up, nor stood up for myself in the face of conflict because of trauma. I always held my tongue due to a fear of retaliation and hurting someone else’s feelings.

This transformed into perfectionistic tendencies in school, where I was too afraid of possibly being wrong, too afraid of attention, and too afraid of rejection to ever raise my hand in class. This was despite knowing the right answer to questions.

This later turned into codependency in relationships, where I would self-sacrifice and not assert my own boundaries, causing feelings of resentment to well up inside of me.

To look at this another way, I continuously failed to stand up for my truth, which directly conflicts with my top two core values of authenticity and honesty.

So, as I struggled with chronic pain resulting from the bicycle crash, I also dove deeper into my past to try to uncover the reasons why I was where I was at that point in my life, why I was so chronically unhappy and void of joy.

So, once I identified the traumatic timeline of my life through the help of therapy, piecing together cause and effect relationships, there was quite the grieving process. It was quite the blowback, honestly – consistent revelations that just kept coming, one after another, that illuminated patterns in my character that I previously was only vaguely aware of.

So, I dealt with a lot of feelings of anger, resentment, and sadness towards my life and towards those in my life that had treated me poorly, but most of all towards myself for continuing to wallow in self-pity and play the victim.

It was time for this to stop, time for some change. This meant that I needed to change, I needed to practice self-compassion and change the way that I treated myself.

But, unfortunately that’s not really where I started. I instead read a lot of books. But, I’ve realized that you can read all the books in the world, but if you don’t act on them, then there is little point to reading them. I continued to experiment as well with a variety of natural supplements and nootropics to try to accelerate my learning at the time.

But, without a specific goal in mind, this only furthered the accumulation of knowledge in place of concrete action. Think of it like the spinning of a hamster wheel: I was spending a lot of time and energy sprinting on this wheel that was ultimately getting me nowhere. To this day, my Amazon cart actually serves as a relic of this past – full of hundreds of books that I can’t ever possibly have the time to read in full.

My Google Keep is full of notes of different traditional Chinese medicines, Ayurvedic treatments, psychological research papers, the list goes on. I was hoarding information whenever and wherever I could out of a perverse fear that I may miss some sort of key point that could serve me in some sort of pivotal role later on in my life.

I failed to realize that this key, in fact, was always inside of me. So this neurotic behavior pattern was anxiety inducing. I was so hellbent on learning more and more, faster and faster, in some desperate attempt to fix myself. This, combined with being a solopreneur, led to me neglecting a lot of my social life and really missing out on a lot of happiness.

Our connections nurture and ground us to this plane of existence, and without them, we can become very untethered. As I’ve talked about before, I felt very alienated and was also very alienating. It seemed like it was hard for many people to relate to me.

While I’ve grown more comfortable with this feeling, it also fueled the depressing loneliness that I was manufacturing for myself through this never-ending negative feedback loop.

The only time I emerged from this hermit’s cave that I constructed for myself was when I’d host events or talks, and so this isolation combined with my negative self-concept really did a number on my mental health. But, there were a few things that finally helped me put a stop to all of this and start moving forward with building my own character and with getting out of my own way. For so long, I was the obstacle that lay before me.

So, how does one overcome an obstacle when the obstacle is themself? Through transformation. This began with transforming how I thought.

Charles F. Haanel’s Master Key System from 1912, which is the origin of the law of attraction, really helped me with this. It helped me realize that through my thinking, I was manifesting a lot of the problems that lay before me.

The best part about this is that you can get the Master Key System for free, and it’s in the public domain. So I’ve included a link in the show notes for anyone that’s interested in taking themselves to the next level through this course.

Therapy also assisted with reframing a lot of the negative thinking patterns that I would constantly run through my head each day.

Rather than continuing to see myself as weak and incapable of doing things, I now see myself as stronger than ever. I rise to challenges rather than shy away from them, no matter how mundane they may be. And I accept my feelings and allow myself to feel them, rather than bottling them down or making myself feel bad about having them in the first place.

So, before we even start diving into core values, key strengths, and goals, I feel that we must first evaluate our self-talk.

Now, if I didn’t go through all of the hard times that I did, I wouldn’t be the person who I am today, obviously. I would be someone else. But, would that someone else be better off than me?

That’s a question that will never have an answer. Thus, I believe it is pointless to waste what time I have left pursuing one.

But, all of this introspection did help me regain my footing and realign my life around a path of purpose and meaning. What this has all led to is a greater feeling of self-confidence, a reduction in anxiety, and an improvement in the quality of my life.

This is something that I hope everyone gets the opportunity to experience in their lives, because we all deserve it – to be ourselves, to live our best lives, and to become who we were always meant to be.

This begins with discarding the feelings of shame, guilt, and anger that we hold against ourselves.

So, what were the lessons that I learned at the end of the day?

I think this quote from the Master Key System puts it best: “Character is not a thing of chance, but it is the result of continued effort.”

The path that one must take to return to their authentic self and then build their character from there is not an easy one, but, it is invaluable.

This all begins with listening to the way that we talk to ourselves when nobody else is listening.

When you talk to yourself, what do you hear? Is it encouragement or criticism? When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

It’s all a matter of perception or perspective, but the thing is, we have full control over that.

If we do not take this power that lies within ourselves, others will. If you do not write your story, others will write it for you.

Once you take this power for yourself, you will get out of your own way and really accelerate on the path to building character. I can guarantee it.

Thank you for listening.

Tune in next Tuesday, where I’ll be talking with Andrew about how this story is really just one part of a much bigger conversation on habits.

If you want to help support us, please join our exclusive monthly book club on Patreon, share the podcast with others, and don’t forget to follow, rate, and review us on your favorite podcast platform.

And hey, before you go, do you feel like you can benefit from a boost to your morale? Then why not give our 7-Day Self-Confidence Challenge a go?

For only $7, you’ll get exclusive access to content that will help you determine your core values and strengths, reframe negative thought patterns, and break old habits to build new ones, all while setting realistic personal development goals.

Links to our Patreon and the challenge can be found in the show notes.

See you next week!

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