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Character Development

Updated: Jun 25, 2021

In writing, character development is the process of building a unique, three-dimensional character with depth, personality, and clear motivations.

Character development can also refer to the changes a character undergoes over the course of a story as a result of their actions and experiences.

I was recently in session with a patient, who identified a struggle with his past. He had lived through a very hard childhood, of which's remnants continued to wreak havoc in his adult life. He reflected outward with a sense of envy toward people who "had it easy, or were free from trauma." I sat with his words for a couple of seconds before responding.

We then had dialogue surrounding the idea of grace descending upon the lucky by happenstance.

No higher source is punishing you directly, or adversely, blessing you with loads of fortune/fame. Things happen just because they happen.

And that is not to say, when people harm us, there is no accountability -- the power of choice and action is very real. However, if you look to make sense of your painful experience in some logical way, you will most likely come up short. Instead, if you look at life experiences to find meaning, you might just be on to healing, forgiving and letting go. It is the idea of moving out of the why me conundrum and into the "this happened to me, now what am I going to do with it? Should I stay burrowed in my pain, or crawl out of the depths and begin my journey onward -- surrendering (an act of receiving and responding) to it?"

So, yes, in this life, some people will have less suffering, less pain than others. However, keep in mind those "lucky" people will most likely also be the people who have little emotional depth, empathetic joy, compassion, clarity and true self discovery -- most likely, they will be an amalgamation of the ideas and thoughts of the hosts in their environment. There are no "reference points" when you've been given an easy ride; nor is their as strong a sense of gratitude with the beauty in your life. The rougher the ship's course, the more likely you will develop a sense of competency when it comes to navigating life's seas; the more likely you will recover from subsequent tragedies, and the greater the probability you will be able to lean into challenge, adversity and strife.

So, therein lies the central message regarding character development. Each and every thing you face in life can be part of your growth, if you allow it. Instead of falling ill to the role of victim or sufferer, encourage a sense of acceptance (this may take time; good news is, when it comes to healing, time is irrelevant and some things must be healed over and over again), and move into the realm of survivor, thriver and curator of your own life.

The most successful people often come from the darkest of places.

This is because they've been to hell, without which, they would have no reference to heaven (no bad, means no definition of what is truly good).

Aside from reference points, pain allows us an opportunity to deconstruct what others have conditioned us to believe is fair, normal or typical and opens us to the opportunity to create our own sense of values and reality.

I often tell patients that they are preparing to move into the minority of the population - one that, once therapy sinks in, will be able to set clear boundaries, say no, have compassion and shatter social roles and norms, (in terms of what it means to be a partner, child, parent, friend, the list goes on). People (i.e. the "majority") will look at the minority and think they're "weird," independent or self-centered, when in fact they have moved themselves into first place, into the "leading role," of the great epic of their lives.

I encourage you to consider what has happened thus far in your own personal tale. And then I ask you, how will your character develop? And most importantly, how will the remainder of your story unravel?

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