Category: UIO: You Inside Out

Giving The Brain Its Props

It has been quite an insightful experience for me to do our podcast On Social Anxiety—such a common disorder but perhaps just as misunderstood or perhaps even more than health anxiety, which I could write a book about. But I won’t as this blog is not about being called a hypochondriac with a view that it is all delusional rather it is about being typecast as shy or eccentric and therefore being often begrudged any empathy or support for your condition.

Thankfully, I haven’t suffered with social anxiety but UIO guest Claire Eastham, best-selling author of We’re all Mad Here, has and  was able to shed some light on just how serious the matter is.

Too often we simply give the body a lot more respect than the brain, Claire explains, citing examples like not telling someone that they have to run in a race when they have a broken leg, as opposed to telling someone that they have to recite a presentation like everyone else; they are not different, no matter how much they are trembling at the notion. 

The instruction is often with good intent, which is why education about the disorder is so important. Unchecked, unmanaged social anxiety can lead to serious health problems, amongst them panic attacks, which I have had. Claire also gives insight into what a panic attack can feel like and believe you me, it can feel absolutely awful.  Amongst the whoppers that I have had was the one that sent me to the emergency room, totally convinced I was having cardiac arrest.  And though all checked out fine, the doctor sent me on to a cardiologist to be absolutely sure that I was well.

The point is, Claire stresses, your brain tricks the body to feeling that it is under threat and you either think you are going crazy or that you are going to die. But the good news is there are some great tips on our podcast on how to mitigate social anxiety and panic attacks.

In the meantime, as I reflect upon my teenage years, I can pinpoint a few situations where a fellow student most likely had social anxiety and was tagged as eccentric.  In one particular case, my friend was painfully quiet but not really shy when you got to know her, but she certainly struggled with socialising. During a major time in her life, she was visibly sweating and shaking to the point that everyone thought she would collapse. But even then, people said that she’s just weird and she should just get on with it.

To this day, though I don’t see much of her, she’s isolated from her peers because people see her as an outcast because she struggles in social situations. Seriously I am hoping that the word is getting out, particularly amongst teenagers, that social anxiety is real and left undiagnosed, can cause great harm to your mental and emotional health.

Though there aren’t any stats that I know of confirming that girls suffer social anxiety more than boys, girls do deal with related issues disproportionately such as questions with body image. To this end, they want to be perfect, look perfect, etc…. and can obsess about their body in any case and if suffering with social anxiety, the obsession can become worse, leading to even more harm.

For example, Claire talks about looking at her face several times before meeting a friend but knowing that once the moment is over, it is over, whereas on social media, the moment is never over because there is a selfie, a picture to remind you that you are not perfect, at least that is what your anxiety tells you.

Thus, the importance of getting the word out that social anxiety is real, it is not something that everyone has (something an acquaintance said to me) or a dislike of people as Claire points out.  It is a very serious irrational situation in which people struggle with socialising at high risk to their mental and emotional wellbeing. 

Key here is to give the brain its props. When it is unwell, it needs to heal equally as much as the body. Have a listen to On Social Anxiety on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. Or sign up for our RSS feed to ensure you never miss a UIO podcast, a great resources for teenage girls, their parents and guardians and teachers, too.

 

 

Playing It Safe On And Offline

Halloween has rolled around too fast for me, not enough time to get with the programme, at least that is my excuse. The truth be known I have never been a big Halloween fan but growing up, I loved a sweet or two now and again and a party or two as a teenager and then young woman, so I happily kitted myself out and went along with the gruelling fun.

But I could not do the haunted houses, the scary movies, etc… and still don’t. I just don’t find the pulse racing, adrenaline pumping, nerve jittering moments much fun.

And fun was always the key for me but as I get older, enjoying Halloween has become as much about staying safe as it is having fun. In the pre-Internet days, staying safe on Halloween and in general was a bit more local, if you will, but nowadays, staying safe goes far beyond stepping out of the front door, though the latter is no less important.

But with the accessibility of the Internet, there is no need to leave home to find yourself in an unsafe space on or off Halloween. In our podcast with E-safety Expert Charlotte Aynsley, we discuss some of the obvious unsafe spaces such as sharing explicit images and cyber bullying.

And there are many others.  For example, the space of glorifying self-harm and suicide. This week, Ian Russell, father of Molly Russell, who committed suicide at 14, continues his quest to ensure that self-harm propaganda is off the Net. And as Aynsley pointed out in On Internet Safety, the authorities continue to make progress in general in keeping the Internet Safe, but there is a long road to travel, as it is a not an easy task, dealing with a world which is not necessarily regulated.

Another troubling area on the Internet has to do with Body Image. In some instances, as pointed out by Leah in our podcast On Being A Teen Girl Now, some of the pressure to have a certain kind of body comes from advertisers stalking teenage girls, if you will.  Imagine a message or ad about being thin elusively cropping up on your page.  Inappropriate no matter how you look at it but that much more to target young vulnerable girls.

Again, the authorities are cracking down on this sort of thing. Still work has to be done on all sides—education being a big, big part of progress. The key here is that all unsafe spaces don’t look unsafe.

For example, issues around Body Image can come from the close connections–wanting to look and be a certain way because you believe that everyone else has the look, albeit some of the pressure comes from celebrities. Aynsley points out that this is one of biggest Internet safety issue for teen girls.

While such issues can impact physical health, they can also have a major influence on mental and emotional well-being, not always as detectable as a problem straight away, but equally as dangerous. 

So, if you are headed out for Halloween tonight or even staying in for that matter, stay body positive. If you want to check out what is online.  There are loads of wonderful body positive bloggers and podcasts too for a reality check. UIO has two: Your Body Inside Out with Judit Ressinka and Your Body Image Inside Out with Laura Miles.

And of course, our latest podcast On Internet Safety has loads of hot tips on body image and staying safe online.

Now about my Halloween. I am going to play it safe—curl up with a good book and I know just the one, We’re All Mad Here by Claire Eastham, guest on next week’s podcast On Social Anxiety. Stay tuned and yes, stay safe.

Everyone Is Responsible for Internet Safety

I can’t say enough about Internet Safety, but I am not the only one.  Our most recent podcast features Charlotte Aynsley, e-safety pioneer and expert, to shed some light on the topic. And just the other night I was at an inaugural lecture of a prestigious law professor at King’s College, London, who talked about the importance of Internet Regulation the world over.

But here is the thing, is the message really sinking in, particularly with our teenagers?

After all the Internet is the global hangout, full of wonderful opportunities. What could go wrong? Back in the summer this year, I actually heard a young boy say something to that nature—why would it be on the Internet if it is bad—and according to On Internet Safety guest Aynsley, this child is not the only one who thinks that way. There are many children growing up believing that everything on the Internet is true and right.

Though this might sound naïve, it makes a whole lot of sense to the young person whose internet experience is all positive until it isn’t. In the UK, the legal age for having a social media account is 13, though about 24% of children have accounts when they are 10 and twice as many when they turn 12.

A few years ago, a hysterical acquaintance shared that her underage daughter was asked to undress over the Internet.  But thankfully it was all curtailed before any damage was done. But what if it hadn’t been stopped.

Sadly, everyone’s story doesn’t have the same ending as my acquaintance’s daughter had, and mainly because few teenagers are aware of the emotional and mental impact that sharing sexually explicit images can have on them, their friends or others or that sexting, as it is called, is criminal if you are under the age of 18. 

Admittedly, this issue is not being policed as strictly as it could be, Aynsley points out, but all the same, consequences can lead to emotional and mental unrest and cause dire consequences for the future.

Another top issue that holds problems for teenagers online is body image, which impacts  girls disproportionately. The pressure on them to be perfect and happy all the time, as told to us by our two teen girls in On Being A Teen Girl Now, is magnified on social media.  Through polished selfies, this aim for perfection goes well beyond looks and enters how our teen girls are feeling about themselves.

Hence the rise in mental health issues amongst this age group. The key is education, Aynsley says and points out that transparency and honest and real life role models and experiences are of paramount importance.

And this honesty doesn’t just rest with the teenagers themselves, it has to live with parents and guardians, social media companies, the government, the police, everyone.

Staying safe on the internet, which can be a wonderful place, requires a joint effort to not only be aware of the problems stacked against us, particularly children and teenagers, but also be willing to tackle the issues.

The good news is that our podcast clears up the confusion around these tough topics and offers teenagers and their guardians practical tools and tips on the matters.  Listen to On Internet Safety on Apple podcasts and other platforms were podcasts are played.

Sleep Encounters

Most of us encounter sleep problems from time to time while others have constant problems sleeping. In UIO’s latest podcast On Sleep, guest Dr Nerina Ramlakhan gives three of the most common problems that people encounter with sleep. Also, she offers lots of tips on how to manage the problems.

First, there is sleep initiation, having a problem getting to sleep. This one, I am all too familiar with, particularly when I am wound up about something.  When I was a teen girl, however, it was more or less anticipation of something–whether dreadful or exciting –that kept me up at night. So often I would roll up at school, feeling a bit sleepy, a bit unwell.  In hindsight, I can now explain some of the niggles that I encountered over the years.

Make no mistake about it, I am not saying that sleep replaces medicine but as Dr Ramlakhan points out, we feel so much better when we have had good sleep, both mentally and physically. Not to mention the impact that sleep has on our confidence. It‘s a booster.

Next, there is sleep maintenance, waking up in the middle of the night and staying awake.  Argh!  I have experienced this one, too, probably equally as much as not being able to get off to sleep.

When I was writing novels, in particular, I would often collapse into a deep sleep at the beginning of the night, my brain so loaded with information, and surprise, surprise, after unloading in dreams and so on for a few hours, I would wake up abruptly.

One night I remember, bolting up to a sitting position and staring into space and repeating to myself, why do ghosts sit in chairs in the middle of the night and stare at us, and then there was the time when I was convinced that a conclave of dead writers, Shakespeare included, were trying to tear my door down.  Okay, so most people don’t have such disruption at night, but you get my point.

No wonder Dr. Ramlakhan stresses the importance of winding down such activity long before going to bed and reading something (writing in my case) nice and easy, like a feel good childhood book. The point is not to take all of our troubles, excitement, etc… to bed.

Finally, there is sleeping too much, otherwise known as hypersomnia. Occasionally, I sleep too much when travelling through time zones but according to Dr Ramlakhan, jet lag is not necessarily associated with hypersomnia. The latter is when someone needs to sleep a lot all the time.

All too often, I encounter parents who worry about how much their teenagers sleep. Not to worry, it is true that teenagers need more sleep than adults because of the growth and development they are encountering. It’s sort of an aid to getting it all integrated. But they can overdo it, putting a damper on health altogether, since sleeping too much is not good sleep either.

So whatever sleep issues you find yourself in, the key is to develop good sleep habits, ranging from what you eat, when you eat, how often you nap, when and for how long, and what you take to bed with you so to speak, including your device(s) or not,  and how you prepare your environment for sleep. Nothing wrong with creating a cosy, comfy room that smells good, too.

No wonder I’ve been off to a good slumber here lately. I have left the dead poets and writers out of my bedroom and the ghosts, too. For more tips on how to get your slumber, listen to UIO: On Sleep on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Sleep Matters

How exciting it is to be a part of the buzz around the importance of getting enough sleep. Yesterday we released our first ever podcast on the topic of sleep, UIO: On Sleep with Dr Nerina Ramlakhan.

While I am proud of all of our podcasts, I am especially excited about this one as it has the potential to help so many people, teenage girls and the rest of the family, too. It is brimming with hot tips and great advice on how to get good sleep, meaning sleep that refreshes and heals the body.

That’s right, though sleep might not be a cure-all, for all of our troubles, it is an important, natural resource, if you will, for prevention and intervention of physical and emotional health problems.

A few months ago, I tested this view for myself, though unintentionally. The night before I was due to appear as a guest on the Victoria Derbyshire Show, I did not get a wink of sleep.  Not a wink. An old pro, if you will, at media relations, I couldn’t understand what was going on and tried everything I knew to get a few winks in.  I read relaxing books, moved myself from the bed and then to the guest bed, meditated and prayed and all the rest. Still no sleep.

The next morning, I got out of bed as though I had slept. After happily showering and dressing, I made my way to the BBC’s studios and worked really hard to insert myself into the conversation about the rise in teenage girls and young woman having cosmetic procedures and in some instances surgery.  

After all, UIO had just released its Wait Awhile research, which agreed with the findings of so many other surveys. Thus, I wanted to get the word out. Not to mention the pressure I felt from having a publicist just outside of the studio doors.  Gulp! I succeeded.

Anyhow, after the show I met Paul for lunch to celebrate my achievements and shortly before lunch ended, I started to fade a bit, but I fobbed it off, thinking I will just get home and get in the bed. This can’t be that much different to jet lag.

Wrong answer.  By the time I made it home, I felt like I had been hit by a train, beyond feeling nauseated, and barely made it into the house and into to the toilet.  There I found myself in a pool of sweat, feeling deathly ill, though this feeling washed over in about ten minutes.

So glad I was able to get up from the floor and make my way into our bedroom, I thought I would just drop off to sleep.  Wrong answer and when I did get up, I had another problem—a bladder infection.  As I was in no shape to take myself to the doctor and Paul was not home, I made an appointment for the next day and commenced to hydrate myself, even if it meant pain.  Only then dd I realised that I needed to plan to ensure a good night’s sleep, as my body felt wired, like it was never going to sleep again.  Foolishly at lunch, I had a glass of wine—just one!

After deep thought, I decided to go for a run and afterwards come back and have a soothing bath and then read a favourite book. I have several stacked by my bed for times such as the one I was experiencing.

Anyhow, it worked. I relaxed and at last fell asleep and slept the night away.  When I awoke at 7 am, I felt like a new person.  And the bladder infection was history, too. Still I hightailed it to the doctor later that afternoon, just to be sure. Voila! I was well again and all it took was good sleep, having been deprived of a full night of it.

Every situation won’t be as extreme as mine thankfully, but the point is sleeping is integral to well-being. You don’t need to lose a full night’s sleep to feel sleep deprivation.

To this end, Dr Ramlakhan stresses that sleep preparation starts well before bedtime. Surprisingly, what you eat for breakfast could have an impact on whether you get a good night’s sleep or not, as well as what you eat throughout the day. Napping comes into the picture as well and of course, managing use of social devices.

If only I could wind back the hands of time to January to the day before I was due to be a guest on the Victoria Derbyshire Show—I would have been prepared.  Never mind, I am now and thanks to UIO: On Sleep, you can be prepared too.  Listen on Apple podcasts or where ever you listen to podcasts.

 

 

 

The Voice Of Teen Girls Matters

Having a voice matters throughout life and sometimes it matters more when you are a teenager. In our podcast On Being A Teen Girl Now, our two guests stress the importance of being heard and understood, not only in family life but also in politics and other places where decisions are made and life is shaped.

We take their point and continue to work hard to advocate on behalf of teenage girls and bring them resources that lift their individual and collective voice. To this end, we are gearing up for the final three podcasts in our third series, focusing on three hot topics that teenage girls face today.

One of them is sleep. Surprise, surprise, surprise!  I was anyhow until I did my homework and had a wonderful conversation with sleep expert, Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan. Listen to UIO: On Sleep on October 9th for the real deal on what sleep has to do with wellbeing.

Not only does Nerina give us the inside scoop on how a good night’s sleep can address physical health problems, but it can do a a thing or two for mental health too. The mother of a 15-year-old daughter, this expert talks about the importance or role modelling, negotiating and working together for a better night’s sleep.

Next up is UIO: On Internet Safety, out on October 23rd.  As experts ramp up on how to keep our children safe on the internet, we had a brilliant conversation with Charlotte Aynsley, a pioneer in internet safety.

Though the biggest safety issue on the internet has to do with body image for teenage girls, Charlotte underscores lots of other concerns and points out ways for teens and guardians to work together for the overall better experience.

And the last podcast in the series delves into a topic that plagues teenagers disproportionately, particularly girls due to the pressure on them to be perfect all the time, as pointed by our two teen girl guests in On Being a Teen Girl Now.  Yes,  you guessed it: social anxiety.

Though a very common disorder, social anxiety can go undiagnosed for years as it did with our guest, award winning mental health blogger, Claire Eastham, who points out that getting a diagnosis is so key to managing and overcoming. Yet, another opportunity to team up with parents and guardians to share concerns and get the necessary help. UIO: On Social Anxiety is out November 6th.

Stay tuned for exciting upcoming series, and in the meantime, check out On Being A Teen Girl Now wherever you listen to podcasts.

 

 

One Thing You Can Count on Facing in Life

With autumn in full force, we continue to highlight issues that play an important and sometimes forceful role in the lives of teen girls. Peer Pressure is our pick this week. Though a topic that lends itself to fresh content, it’s also one that has been unchangeable over the years.  To this end, I am republishing Six Ways to Handle Peer Pressure, all tips taken from UIO podcast.  So if you missed the blog last year, check it out now and for further tips, listen to UIO: Peer Pressure Inside Out where ever you listen to podcasts.  Happy listening and happy reading. 

The saying goes that only two things in life are certain—death and taxes. And the latter has become a rather grey area for some. Never mind. But here is the thing: the older I get the more I wonder if there is a third certainty that we all have to reckon with. Yep, you guessed it: peer pressure.

We all experience it throughout life. Ever since I can remember, I’ve known about it. Of course, as a child I might not have known its name or fully understood it, but when one of the kids of my youth encouraged me to hide underneath my great grandparents’ old house, though we had been warned of snakes and other dangers, I couldn’t resist the possibility of an adventure. Others had done it and lived to tell the tale. So did I but not without causing a lot of upset to a whole lot of people.

Fast forward, as a middle-aged woman (gulp) the pressure is still on daily, also known as keeping up with the Joneses, not something that I consciously engage in. While peer pressure can be far more elusive at this age, it’s there. For example, when considering strong encouragement from a peer on what outfit to wear for a celebrated occasion, for example, I find myself tempted to give in to what others are doing or to make comparisons that leave me feeling glum.

Make no mistake about it, I know all talk about grooming isn’t about peer pressure. I receive lots of handy advice with no pressure at all and have been known to give out some too, but when peers, people around us, pressure us to do things that make us uncomfortable that might have negative consequences mentally or physically, it is important to see it for what it is—peer pressure.

My examples are small things, don’t sweat them, but there are bigger ones that can be quite intense during the teen years such as pressure to stay out beyond a curfew, drink, smoke, cheat on an exam, get up to shenanigans online, engage in violence, have sex and so on.

Many of these big topics gain momentum in the name of youth or because they are billed as a rite of passage and/or because everybody else is doing it. And if given in to, the consequences can be life altering.

Thankfully, there’s plenty of wonderful advice out there to manage peer pressure. Hence, I have taken six top tips from UIO’s podcast series:

  • Keep self-confidence in tow – ‘Just like we put on coats and gloves when we go out into inclement weather, we need to put on self-confidence when we step out into the world.’

  • Show yourself some love and take care of yourself – ‘Your body serves you now. It really is your temple. Look after it.’

  • Don’t worry what everybody else is doing – ‘Try to avoid making comparisons, you are unique.’

  • Know yourself, what you really value and hang onto it – ‘The thing that you want to dull because you are not fitting in. That is your bit of uniqueness. Own it. It is your superpower.’

  • Dare to be different – ‘It takes a brave girl or woman to say wait a minute, I think I am worth more. I have infinite worth and value.’

  • Think about who you hang out with; who you choose to trust – ‘Those that matter won’t mind; those that mind won’t matter.’

All good stuff from the ladies of UIO. Now about that adventure; it was a hiding to nothing and hardly worth the admonishment I received from my father. As for bagging the right outfit for a special occasion, now is the time to dare to be different. Feeling less stressed already.

Bucking The Comparison Factor

There are a number of factors that go into having a positive body image, running the gamut from being satisfied with how you look, being happy with who you are, feeling good about yourself and not comparing yourself to others.

It is the latter, the comparison factor, that causes plenty of trouble for a lot of folks. Take me, for example,  I all too often, albeit subconsciously, compare myself to another and find myself deflated rather quickly.  And I am not talking about making blatant physical comparisons; those are easy to stamp out.  Each of us is unique, I get that.

Still, elusive comparisons have a way of creeping in and often when you are feeling most confident.  This morning, I was quite comfy in my own space in my Yoga class with my ungraceful Malasana pose (a squat of sorts)– forgive me if I’ve got the pose wrong; I am new to this–until I say the woman in front of me and the one beside me, etc.  You get my drift.

And that is what happened, I drifted from a relatively body positive person, brimming with confidence to an unstable flat footed girlie of sorts.  And as the instructor had said it was okay to go into child’s pose at any time, I took the opportunity to do so, shying away from Malasana.

It was in these few seconds in child’s pose that I remembered that such comparisons fall well below the conscious and are almost undeniable until they back you against a wall. Though I recovered rather quickly this morning, there have been other times that the feeling of deflation has dominated my person indefinitely, like when I was younger and felt that I didn’t fit in at a social event because my hair, my nose, etc… was different from everyone else’s.

I had a scar for the longest time about athletics because I was not as good as the other girls in my class. Instead of accepting that it just wasn’t my thing, I blamed it all on my body’s lack of ability and anytime athletics came up, well my body slumped, all of me did. Admittedly, it all sounds a bit ridiculous but in the heat of the moment, comparison can shake the most confident person’s body confidence.

Going back nearly seven years, I remember the comparison factor furtively stalking my 50th birthday party, forcing conversations about how one world was more enhanced than another’s either due to children, high powered jobs, husbands, properties, size and shape and so on.  Make no mistake about it, we are not necessarily fickle people and didn’t spend our entire time talking consciously about such things, but caught off guard, the comparison factor had a way of sneaking in and forcing our backs against a wall.

Fortunately, we caught on and looked at the flip side, which is about admiration rather than comparison. Big difference. The minute we talked openly about admiring one another for our achievements, whether deep or peripheral, we returned to a spacious place. What a wonderful celebration!

Now back to my yoga class this morning. Did I ever do the Malasana pose as gracefully as the next person? Not a chance but I did the pose in the best taste that I could master and felt quite satisfied with my feet for it. I thanked them profusely. Gratitude is another key to trouncing the comparison factor.

So the next time, you begin to compare yourself to another and feel deflated physically and mentally, buck up with admiration and a dose of gratitude and embrace the space that you are in. It’s all about celebrating you—body and all. For more tips on maintaining a positive body image, check out Episode 4: Your Body Image Inside Out.

 

 

Never Give Up: Rise Above The Odds

Rising above odds is a varied subject. Odds, in some way, can be like challenges stacked against us in any given situation. In UIO’s upcoming podcast with barrister and entrepreneur Hannilee Fish, we talk about dealing with sexism, peer pressure and mental illness as well as overcoming her own dyslexia and finding opportunities in poverty. 

Seeing an opportunity in a difficult situation can often be the difference in feeling stuck or coming out on the other side. This year, I celebrate 21 years of living in the UK and while I can’t say that I have ever found myself in a seriously difficult situation, barring the odd exception at the border when I truly thought I might be sent back to France, to be deported to the US, I have had to learn the ropes in a situation where the odds were stacked against me, if only marginally. 

Early on as a writer and a student, I learned some of the embarrassing differences between American English and British English. One that sticks out is referring to trousers as pants in a room full of men. Sounds minor, right. Most times it was but the lesson is that the two languages are not one in the same and the opportunity for me was that I inherited a very British family. I rose quickly. 

On a similar note, I had to relearn the metric system. How many grams would you like Madam? Gulp! I would graze around the shop and find a bag of coffee that had 200 grams and until this day, I still think in pounds weight wise but I do understand kilos and stones, believe it or not. 

Again the opportunity was living with someone who spoke the language, ate the food, lived the life and thus I approached life as a learning experience. 

So often I had been told you will not survive, you can’t. One acquaintance referred to my African American roots compared to my husband’s British roots as oil and water, fiery and well, passive. Still I rose, and when another said, you’ll be back, I seized the opportunity to prove her wrong. 

Of course there were far more serious challenges along the way–there were illusive racial issues, sexists ones, too but the toughest one was making new friends, establishing a firm foundation. So often when we move from one country to another, or one city to another, this is a major issue but it also happens when we change schools, go from one grade to the other. 

In the end, the key thing is to find the opportunity in the challenging space, stay grounded and never give up–all important to rising above whatever odds you might be facing. Take a listen to UIO: Rising Above the Odds with Hannilee Fish for more tips on finding opportunities in difficult and awkward spaces. Meantime, take care!

Character Building Podcast: The One to Listen To

If you haven’t already read a life changing book, one that sticks with you forever and a day, you likely will as you age.  Nowadays, however, it doesn’t have to be a book, it can be a podcast! Recently, I was privileged to a conversation that asked after recommended books and podcasts.

Well, have I got news for you. Our recent podcast of UIO: On Character Building could be the one.

Though the podcast is profound, it is refreshing and packed with gems and inspiration that couldn’t have come at a better time than now as the world begins to look at the shift in norms that we’ve taken when it comes to shaping character, who we are, not only as individuals but also as a society.

Our guest for the episode, former Paralympic swimmer Elizabeth Wright, says: “Character is an integral part of life.  In a nutshell, character is who you are, it is those elements inside of you that are a part of you that develop and grow. They can be strengths for people. They can be parts of your personality, parts that you can pull on when times are tough.”

Most of us can relate to this and tend to think of character traits such as grit, determination, courage and so on to aid us in performing a task, be it to achieve or overcome a challenge.  And those performance character traits are important (I should know as I have had to call on them a time or two, especially while mourning the loss of my mother), but they are not the only ones of significance.

Elizabeth says there are four categories for building character if you will:  performance, moral, civic and intellectual.  And the key is striking a balance and knowing your strengths, particularly when facing some of the undue pressures.  

Our Wait Awhile research confirms unprecedented pressures for teenage girls in areas ranging from altering appearance permanently to going further in a sexual relationship than comfortable with, and while these pressures are unlikely to let up anytime soon, On Character Building provides original insight into to the debate and can serve as an invaluable resource to deal with them positively.

For example, if you are being asked to do something that makes you uncomfortable, learn to hone and call on those character strengths that are true to your values, focusing on the moral category. Or do something to change the world yourself if you are civic minded.

Enough said! Take a listen to On Character Building with Elizabeth Wright on iTunes, on our websiteSoundcloud and on various other platforms. 

Here is a quick preview: