Mental Health and Character Development

I have read there are three things necessary in a person’s life to maintain good mental health. They are:

  1. Challenges, or facing fears
  2. Attitude
  3. Support system

    Over my lifetime I have created challenges for myself, usually when I’m feeling at my most insecure or after a tragedy of some sort.  After my husband’s death I realized I had many fears of making it on my own and that was when I began to get into all my Do It Yourself projects.  I learned woodworking and built a hall tree and some tables and even a large server for my kitchen.  I then graduated to tile work and learned to install a sprinkler system and landscaping.  With each new project and the successful completion thereof, I felt more comfortable and confident in my own skin.  As time went on I let most of these projects fall by the wayside and began to concentrate more and more on writing.  Now I challenge myself with writing novels, stories and poetry.  I no longer think of it as a challenge, but rather a very important part of who I am and all this self-expression has given me a strong balance and faith in myself that is priceless.  I find that when I am into these projects my self-centered thoughts disappear and it’s as though I become a conduit for something greater than myself to come through and with it comes a feeling of serenity and even joy.

     Attitude is very important and my own self talk goes along with my attitudes towards life and situations that come up.  Whenever I get to feeling blue or angry I know it’s time to listen to the words I am internally speaking to myself.  It’s no surprise when I realize that I’m being super critical and negative with my own self talk and I make a conscious effort to ‘heal’ that and replace those self-defeating words with positive, life affirming and encouraging statements.

      I find I have a strong support system through my friends and faith and my family.  When I bounce ideas off them and am graced with their knowledge and experience I can then go into my projects with perhaps a new insight or a different viewpoint of where I want to go. 

      These three things have been very important in my life and I have come to see how important they can be in developing characters in a novel or story.  I love the protagonist who seeks out challenges, or feels he/she must always be proving him/herself, or is running from inner demons through engaging in dare devil activities.

     And the struggles within a character with their own self talk that was perhaps generated by an abusive parent, teacher, etc.  And the struggle that can result when a person’s support system is not supportive but is in fact, destructive and the fight one may have in overcoming or leaving all that behind. 

    I know there are more things that can contribute to mental health.  What are some of the things you use in your own life and also in the development of your characters?

Nancy A. Niles is the author of Vendetta: A Deadly Win, soon to be released from Second Wind Publishing.


Filed under fiction, life, musings, writing

2 responses to “Mental Health and Character Development

  1. Nancy, this a very life-affirming post, one I need right now. I haven’t done much to challenge myself these past months except get through the days, a challenge in itself, but next month I plan to do NaNoWriMo, which, for me, is a supreme challenge. Even at my most productive, it took eight months to write 50,000 words, and now I’ve committed to writing that many in a month. Yikes.

    I’ve thought of you often, during these past months. Knowing that you managed to survive and even thrive has given me the hope that I can do the same.

  2. Thanks Pat, that is quite a challenge you are undertaking. I’m happy my experience can help you and remembering is helping me to stop taking so many things for granted, now. Time to get back to basics for me, I’ve let a lot of things go and am looking for that next challenge. Actually it’s staring at me every day and that is the YA novel in verse. I have an outline and 1500 words on it and I just stopped. So I’ll try to get back to that after I finish the final little bit of writing on Lethal Echoes. This website, your site and Gather have been a huge support group and I am so happy I’ve met everyone and for all I’ve learned. Keep up the good work!

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