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Character-building for a better nation

 | November 10, 2013

The writer shares his character-building methods in hope for a better tomorrow.


Many years ago, when our National Service was started, I remember closing my office for two months to volunteer as a character building trainer for the programme. It was pioneer days and starting the first auspicious day of National Service at my allocated venue in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in Bangi was such a memorable challenge.

The teenagers didn’t know what to expect, many reacted with resentment, frustration, tears in their eyes and even missed classes. Yet, we trainers persisted with these budding young generations of Malaysia.

We remember the last day of this batch, after two months of character building training. These boys and girls were so sentimental, polite and well-mannered and the inspiration that they took home as a young citizen of Malaysia. This was a turning point in many of their lives.

I will always remember that moment when one of the trainer remarked: “Today, I can sleep in peace because I know these kids will not mess up my world when I grow old in the future”.

Character development education is a must for all Malaysians

It’s no point making sure that a person grows healthy, wealthy and have a horrid character that is stunting them and making them a nuisance to all. This is a world where information and opportunity is readily available to all that seek it.

I always wonder why the subject “Tata Terbit” was discontinued by The Ministry of Education in the secondary education of a teenager. It has very good values and education taught for the formation of good citizen character and identity.

I have spoken with many elderly and middle aged groups and they all express their disappointment that this vital subject had been omitted in the development of our young Malaysians. “Tata Terbit” had set the vibration and the civic-minded focus of growing teenagers. It taught some right path in terms of respect, restrain, mannerism, values and love for the elders, communities, nature and the country.

It’s is quite common as a therapist, that today, I am noticing that more parents are having increasing teenage issues at home and in school.

Talk to anyone today, and you will notice the character of the person. Dealing with different characters of people is what life is all about. No five fingers are the same. In today’s generation “Y” the problems are different compared to people who grew up in the 20th century. Many past parenting methods are not applicable.

Parents always complained to me that their kids are not attentive enough, increasingly rude and stubborn, don’t study and are always getting into trouble. I have also had teenagers in coaching and therapy for low self-esteem, anger management, having fear symptoms or phobias, gambling, smoking, pornography or drug addiction.

There are an increasing rise in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), depression, anxiety and poor positive attitude. More parents who come to see me are concerned on how their children are going to cope in a very rapidly changing world.

Occasionally, when I talk to my doctor buddies, it is quite apparent that more pharmaceutical and medical solutions are being introduced for specific social symptoms and diseases didn’t exist that years ago.

We are in an era where the lack of character strengthening has led to many emotional challenges in many youngsters lives today. Even, adults are affected in a rat race society where only the best can survive. Unable to cope and stressed out are common cries.

Character Building can heal and strengthen the human potential

I have written this article that it may give insight and hope to all those stressed out people out there. I hope they could learn a tip or more to better address their children or their own lifestyle adaption.

While the topic of character grooming has its advantages, it should never be imposed completely to override the character code of the individual. The wonderful thing about character and integrity, which are intimately related, is that they are one of the few things in life that no one will ever be able to forcefully take away from you.

Your choices are your own. Even if someone can take your life, they cannot force you to make a choice that you believe is wrong. In truth, it is not the world but it is your world!

Here are some concepts that may take time to fully understand and apply in your life. Learn about your own virtues and values, and how they correspond with your life and the world around you. These concepts build your character.

Understand what character and integrity are. People always say that you must have a good character and uphold some integrity in your day-to-day living. What are they really trying to tell you? Here is some definition on these terms.

Character is the sum of qualities shown up in a person or group, moral or ethical strength, and the description of a person’s attributes, traits and abilities.

Character is who you are. It defines you and guides your actions, hopefully in a positive way.

Integrity is steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code, being unimpaired, sound, whole and undivided; completeness. Integrity can be summed up simply as doing the right thing for the right reason even when no one is watching.

Choose a set of rules, morals, or principles that you believe will lead to a happy, satisfying, and righteous life, and a better world. It is important that you have a guiding path in your life. Each time, when I ask a depressed person if they are religious or have a strong relationship with God, a very high percentage of them are either free-thinker, lapse in their religious faith or just been too busy with life. This is very important basis of life and your foundation must be secured in a proper framework of life principles and God-fearing beliefs. You can subscribe to the ethics of a particular religion, or you can develop your own based on your life experiences.

Learn from your choice-making patterns. Look at the choices you have made in your past, and observe how much you have or have not lived by those principles. Don’t waste time feeling regretful or guilty. Remember that “…until a person can say deeply and honestly, I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday, that person cannot say, I choose otherwise.” – Stephen R. Covey.

Decide what you must change in your behavior to align your life more closely to what you believe. The fundamental of all improvement is the act of change. Self-change or engaging a specialist to help make that change possible is going to bring you the results you need.

Be conscious every day of the decisions you make, however big or small, and how close they bring you to being the person you really want to become. In my book, “The Science to Quit Smoking” I wrote a phrase: “Awareness is the only thing we are not aware of”. Yes, to be aware of all what you want to be, it must be an effort of conscious awareness and action. Do your best and your best self will turn up! Your character is unique. It may not match with anybody else. So, do not try for it.

Build it based on your own aptitude and inner light within you. Self-assessment, self-evaluation, and introspection work well but never are disheartened by petty failures and criticism revolving around failures. Stand firm on your convictions. You are bound to succeed.

Six steps to help you understand and build a good character

In my hypnotherapy and coaching practice, I adopt some best methods for effective character reinforcing and growth. This six-step process below can help you understand and incorporate good character into your life.

If you want to help others in your family, your organisation and your community to become more conscious of the traits and characteristics of a good character, the steps below will help you get the message across.

Before you start, it is important to understand that a character quality is a habit that you can develop through repeated practice and good character contributes to success. With this understanding in mind, you can help by employing the following six steps.

Understand the quality – a positive character

First, let us gain a clear understanding of the character quality. If you are talking about the positive character quality of “enthusiasm,” for instance, you might define it as expressing joy in each task as one gives it his or her best effort.” This is when having a character of joy will lead to doing the task better,  be more hardworking and detailed for the sake of a good job and pleasing to all.

Grasp its actions – a reliable character

Here is where you describe the character quality in terms of thoughts, words and/or behavior that are representative of those that result when a person possesses this quality. This not only provides further understanding of the quality but very importantly provides thoughts, words and behaviors that people can practise to help build the patterns of habit into their own lives. Notice the circular nature of character qualities and actions – thoughts, words, behaviour.

Possessing the qualities give rise to actions patterned after that character quality. But it is in practising actions according to that pattern that the individual builds the character quality. Some of the qualities are smile, be an energy giver to others, treat every job as important, put my whole heart into what you do and do not be discouraged by failure.

Realise its benefits – a character of advantage

Here is where the character development brings expected benefits that motivate a person to develop further, growing his character.

Significant benefits deriving from good character in general are individuals are empowered to reach their full potential in knowledge, skills and accomplishments with their diligence, dependability, and benevolence; enhances self-acceptance, self-confidence and self-satisfaction; increases productivity and accomplishments; improves relationships; encourages others; and contributes to success.

The other benefits are that they mould one into character of high spirit, ambitious and enthusiasm while providing a renewed excitement to life, to the giver and those impacted by the energy given.

Practise its actions – a character of resilience

You can begin to regularly practise the actions that will develop the habit pattern of the character quality, and to experience the benefits that come about. Tackle enthusiastically, for instance, a task that you typically disliked.

On occasion, implementation of the desired end action may be too demanding to accomplish in a single step, and may have to be approached in a sequence of smaller steps.

Encourage it in others – a character of leadership

I remember someone saying to me: “The fastest way to learn is to have disciples, only then are you forced to learn and act like the master”. Encouraging the quality in others is beneficial not only to the others but is especially beneficial to the person doing the encouraging.

Encouraging others will keep sharpen your awareness of the character quality itself, keeps you actively communicating about it and possibly gaining a new understanding of the quality, and encourages you to keep actively developing the quality in your own life.

Be encouraged – a character that can be coached or teachable

The main ingredient for any character growth is that the person must be willing and teachable. Resistant and barriers can hinder change. Explicitly invite one or more persons to encourage you in developing character qualities, holding them accountable to practice options.

A friend hears you grumbling about deadlines for instance, ask them to remind you that renewed enthusiasm will help you get back on course.

Hypnosis can be used as a powerful tool for character reinforcing

Almost all my client will need some form of character reinforcing or change in therapy. Whether they want to quit smoking or get over a grief. The need for change is a must. Hypnosis is a powerful tool for mindset change and should not be downplayed compared to effects of coaching, counseling or medication.

In fact, it can be used in integrative with any conscious education for character enhancement to align all the emotional behaviors and symptoms that are linked to a limiting character. Most people with character problems operate without being aware of their subconscious responses that get them in trouble often. Here is part of a hypnosis script for building a better character. It encourages the natural healing process for change:

“Every trauma, problem and obstacle that has happened in the past has been put to use by building up your strength and your character to allow you to begin to see your future more clearly, more positively than ever before. Your emotions now begin to settle down … all your anger, the frustration and the hurt you felt before and got in the way of your decision-making are now back in their correct places, leaving valuable information from experiences..that will enable you to come to better and more constructive conclusions. The emotions settle down, no longer on the surface, no longer in the way of you thinking clearly.

They have served their purposed and because your mind is now stronger, clearer and more positive than before, you begin to feel the benefits. Your confidence is stronger and healthier”

(Julian Leicester is a London-trained subconscious specialist with Hypno-Station. He is Malaysia’s most renowned clinical hypnotherapist, media personality, columnist, event host and book author. He can be contacted at [email protected] or www.hypno-station.com)


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