4 ways to build character through challenges
Wednesday, July 08, 2015
"Challenges are what make life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful." — Joshua J. Marine
Challenges are nothing more than conditions over which we have little to no control. When they occur, it's not the condition that stops us. It's how we decide to manage it, or let it manage us.
Actively asking ourselves, "What can be done?" directs behavior, allowing us to manage as best we can. When we do what we can do, managing becomes a personal adjustment. Following through with "what we can do" makes us successful and meaningful.
Setting goals and boundaries are ways to maintain control and deal with challenges. You know you are setting guideposts too low when you achieve them, but are not satisfied. If you become frustrated, sidetracked or lose sight of your purpose, you turn control over to the challenge.
When you actively think about what you can do, your first step toward success is complete. Now aim higher and continue your mission. Regaining a sense of control engages thoughts of thanksgiving, gratitude and confidence. Such thoughts propel you on your way with positive power: As you think, so you go.
Here are a few positive power ideas:
Deal with others when challenged
We all have good and bad days. When challenged by others, listen and do not react. A person who is "dumping frustrations" is in a negative emotional state. Your best moves are not to react or interrupt.
This is not to suggest you remain silent during emotional outbursts. Nondefensive responses can help to move the "dumper" forward. Listen, maintain eye contact, and respond with behavior statements such as, "Your loud and heated words indicate you are really upset," or, be totally nondefensive and respond, "That's interesting."
When the person starts settling down, ask a question: "Is this something we can discuss without upsetting you further?" This is a good starter. The goal is to get the challenger out of the emotional state and move him/her to a more controlled reasoning position.
True friends can make this happen just by being present and actively listening.
Assist others to manage their behavior
When engaged in conversation with a friend or co-worker, you are in a position to point out how his/her behavior might be threatening or unproductive. Keep your reference focused on behavior being exhibited or described by your friend.
Offer calming suggestions directed at reactive behaviors. Discuss how these suggestions help your friend adjust by regaining control with rational thoughts and actions. This approach is most successfully accomplished by your demonstration of calm behavior. It helps extract emotions out of the conversation.
Emotions feed off one another. Likewise, responsive statements encourage a more sedating quality. When you see your friend's behavior change, comment on the behavior change you are witnessing. Compliment the adjustment in behavior you notice, and let the person know how much more effective you feel the conversation has become.
A major character flaw is demonstrated when a helper believes he/she has all the answers to problems presented by others. Rather than be tagged a "know it all," learn to be a mediator.
A mediator listens to the problem presented, asks probing questions and makes suggestions for consideration. The mediator does not make decisions, but stimulates motivational thoughts that encourage decision-making on the part of the conflicted person.
A characteristic of an effective mediator is remaining unaffected by emotions. When helping others, emotions significantly interfere with good decision-making. Not letting emotions take control is a major task for the mediator.
Communicate goals and expectations clearly
The ability to communicate is a fundamental characteristic needed by those assuming a helping role. Communication starts with effectively sorting facts, opinions or myths related to the situation or event being discussed. After awareness is raised, the focus on understanding is critical.
Agreeing on levels of understanding opens the way for establishing goals and expectations. The true helper is one who brings this all together, leaving the final decision-making to the challenged person.
Challenges are inevitable. Being an effective helper builds character for both parties involved. The helper and the helped both gain from the experience.
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