Helen Gahagan Douglas


Character isn’t inherited. One builds it daily by the way one thinks and acts, thought by thought, action by action. If one lets fear or hate or anger take possession of the mind, they become self-forged chains.‘ Helen Gahagan Douglas

Helen Gahagan Douglas (1900-1980) began her professional career on the Broadway stage and was regarded as a “star” at the age twenty-two. By the 1930s, she moved to California with her husband, Hollywood actor Melvyn Douglas. There she soon found herself involved in politics and was elected Democratic National Committeewoman from California in 1944. For the rest of her life, she remained a tireless public speaker and activist.

Douglas gets to the core of how character is developed with this quote of hers. You can’t blame your genes for your character. Actually if you do, you become a victim and develop a victim mentality. ‘I can’t help it …. that’s the way I’m made ..’ is the cry of a victim mentality.

I love hearing about people who have succeeded despite the odds being stacked against them. Our thoughts direct our mood and our behavior. If you have a victim mentality, you will have ‘victim’ behavior. Our character is developed by choosing ‘right actions’. Fear, hate and anger keep us in the past and keep one a victim, chained to the past. The only way to move forward is through forgiveness, letting go of hurts and anger.  The person who hurt us has forgotten what they did that offended us, while we hang on to the hurts and stew in the pain through not forgiving. And fears? You’ve got to face them as it’s avoidance that keeps a person anxious.

Forgive and move on, that’s the way to build good character. Carefully watch your thoughts and discard any that keep you miserable.

Develop Self-Confidence


The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear and get a record of successful experiences behind you. Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” William Jennings Bryan

William Jennings Bryan, (1860 – 1925) practiced law in Jacksonville. In 1887 he moved to Nebraska where he hope to start a political career. He was elected as a Democrat to the Fifty-second and Fifty-third Congresses. He was unsuccessful in his bid to be the Democratic candidate for President in 1896. 1900 and 1908. He became Secretary of State in the Cabinet of President Wilson and served from March 4, 1913, until June 9, 1915, when he resigned.

Much wisdom is to be gained from this quote by Bryan. You’re not going to get self-confidence if you wait passively for things to happen to you. You have to be proactive and facing your fears and achieving success can be a real confidence booster. It’s important to remember these achievements as ‘marker points’ on the journey of life. When you feel fearful or afraid, just remember all those things that you have successfully achieved and move forward in confidence.


Keeping quiet!


“Anxiety results from believing that you have no right to express your feelings or needs.” Karin Stewart

When your thoughts or opinions are constantly criticized or put down, you might decide that it’s better just to keep quiet and suppress your feelings. It’s certainly one way of keeping the peace. However, in the long run, it isn’t healthy as you run the risk of suffering from high levels of anxiety instead.

Just remember we all have a right to express our opinions. It doesn’t mean that others have to agree with us or that we have to agree with the other person either.

Start practicing expressing your thoughts and feelings. If someone puts you down for doing this, just remind yourself that you do have the right to do so, and maybe gently tell the other person as well. If you don’t agree with someone else’s opinions, accept it as being theirs and they too have a right to a different opinion. We’re all different and we can celebrate our differences rather than try to make others to be like us!

Learning while Anxious!



Neither comprehension nor learning can take place in an atmosphere of anxiety.” Rose F. Kennedy

Rose E Kennedy (22 July 1890 – 2 January 1995) is known as the Kennedy family matriarch. Rose married Joseph P Kennedy, snr after a courtship of over 7 years. They were a privileged, wealthy Boston family. Over the next 18 years they produced 9 children. Two of their children, namely President John F Kennedy and Robert Kennedy were assassinated and one can’t help but think how terrible this would be for a mother to live through. Her marriage wasn’t easy and she eventually coped with her husband’s unfaithfulness by pretending it wasn’t happening.

Their third child Rosemary was mentally retarded.  Rose’s ambitious husband kept  Rosemary’s mental retardation a family secret in order to keep up appearances. In an attempt to subdue Rosemary’s increasingly severe anger outbursts and mood swings, the family decided to have a lobotomy performed on her at the age of 23. This was a method used to calm severely mentally disturbed patients but didn’t help Rosemary. She was institutionalized for her adult life.

Although her father never visited her in the institution, it was the motivating factor that propelled other members of the family, including mother Rose, to become involved in philanthropic endeavors. The younger daughter of Rose, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, became a champion  of mental health projects, and founded the Special Olympics in 1968 for mentally disabled athletes. It’s interesting that good can so often come out of difficult circumstances.

Not surprisingly, these family circumstances took their toll and Rose Kennedy suffered from nervousness and stress. She coped with the help of prescription tranquilizers. She knew the effects of stress and anxiety and from her own experience could confidently say that ‘neither comprehension nor learning can take place in an atmosphere of anxiety.’

Rose Kennedy died at the ripe old age of 102 after having lived a very full life.


Look fear in the face!


You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” Anna Eleanor Roosevelt

These words by Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (October 11, 1884 – November 7, 1962) really sum up her life experience of fear. She had a difficult childhood and despite the trappings of wealth, Eleanor had an unhappy childhood. Her father turned to alcohol for comfort at the death of his own mother and was away from home for long periods of time. Her mother also battled as she was disillusioned by her husband. Little Eleanor couldn’t help but become very aware of the the tension between her parents and at the young age of six took on mothering responsibilities towards her mother. This is so typical of a child brought up in a home with alcohol abuse. Eleanor’s mother, who was one of New York’s beauties at the time, intimidated her daughter making her very self-conscious. She even nicknamed her daughter ‘Granny’ because of her ‘very plain, old fashioned’ looks. As a result, Eleanor was a serious child.

At the tender age of 8 her mother died and Eleanor focused on getting attention from her father who she felt loved him. However, he died of alcoholism and depression some 19 months later. At the age of 10 Eleanor became an orphan and was cared for by her grandmother. Life improved for Eleanor when she attended Allenswood Academy in London in 1899. These were very happy years during which time she became socially and politically aware. She gained confidence and became more independent during this time. Much to her families horror she became involved in reform movements.

A chance encounter on a train led to a romantic involvement with her cousin Franklin D Roosevelt. Franklin’s mother disapproved of the relationship but after a 16 month engagement, they were married in 1905. To put it mildly, her mother-in-law was very interfering, and made many of the family decisions for Eleanor. Once Franklin Roosevelt’s political career developed, Eleanor was able to live a life released from the shackles of her mother-in-law. However, the marriage was not happy as her husband was continuously unfaithful. In the end the marriage was one of political convenience rather than a marriage based on love.

Franklin D Roosevelt became the 32nd President of the United States of Amercica serving between.March 4, 1933 – April 12, 1945

Closing words: Being rich doesn’t protect one from hardship. Hardships can be used for good, allowing us to gain courage and confidence. Keep moving forward and if there is something that you think you cannot do, face it and do it. If the idea came into your head in the first place, you can use the fear as a challenge from which to grow!

Alarms ringing!



“We live in the midst of alarms; anxiety beclouds the future; we expect some new disaster with each newspaper we read.” Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was the 16th President of the United States, serving for 4 years until he was assassinated in April 1865. He successfully led his country through the American Civil War and ended slavery. He came from a poor family and was mostly self-educated.

If he lived in the midst of alarms with anxiety clouding the future, I wonder what Lincoln would think of our modern times where everything we do is so immediate. Emails mean immediate interaction, people want immediate replies. This just increases anxiety and stress! In ‘those days-gone-by’ a person could mentally regroup while waiting for letters to be delivered snail-mail!

We need to slow down so that the stresses and anxieties of life don’t overtake us.

If stress is getting to you and ‘alarms are ringing’ click here to learn about a very useful 3 Step Anxiety Relaxation Technique.

Sailing the Storms of Life!



“I’m not afraid of storms for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” Louisa May Alcott

Fear can really stop us from living our lives to the full. Fear of rejection, fear of criticism, fear of facing new situations are a few in a long list. People with agoraphobia are even too afraid to go out of their homes into open spaces.

What do you fear? Some people find it difficulty to pinpoint exactly what they are afraid of, exactly what they are anxious about. If you can name your fear you’re in a much better position to overcome that fear.

You have 2 choices You can either live a life handicapped by fear, and miss out on all the excitement of living. In other words, you can stay in the harbor and never venture out in your ‘yacht’


You can face your fears, learn how to sail your ship and voyage to new horizons! Knowledge brings power and freedom from fear. The choice is yours!

For more information on how to overcome fear and learn how our thinking affects our mood, please click here. 

This beautiful photo of the Durban Yacht Harbor was taken by Nicola Stewart http://beblessedphotography.co.za/

Anxiety and Prayer



“No one can pray and worry at the same time.” Max Lucado

This is so true as prayer brings about a sense of peace. Instead of worrying we can rely on God our Creator to care for us. We know He loves us passionately. As we hand over our concerns to Him, He gives us peace. When we are in a place of peace we are in a better frame of mind to honestly and rationally assess what exactly it is that is worrying us.

Lying Awake!


“When you’re lying awake with a dismal headache, and repose is taboo’d by anxiety, I conceive you may use any language you choose to indulge in, without impropriety.” Sir William S. Gilbert

Sir William Schwenck Gilbert (18 November 1836 – 29 May 1911) is a poet probably best known for his collaboration with composer Sir Arthur Sullivan. Together they produced 14 very comic operas including Iolanthe in 1882.

The words of this week’s quote comes from the Lord Chancellors Nightmare Song in Act 2 of Iolanthe. It is known as a patter song. Patter songs have rapid-fire, tongue-tripping lyrics and are very humorous. Another patter song from Gilbert and Sullivan is “I am the very model of a modern Major-General” from The Pirates of Penzance, produced in 1867. Many of us are familiar with this song.

There’s nothing worse than lying awake at night with a headache and you can’t sleep because of anxiety. Agreed! But will swearing help? Well, for this type of sleeplessness, Gilbert says “I conceive you may use any language you choose to indulge in, without impropriety”!

Mmh! Not sure about that advice though. Probably just increase the adrenalin flow to your body!



Go with your fear!

This week’s Quote for Anxiety. “We must travel in the direction of our fear” by John Berryman.

Trying to escape or change directions to avoid our fears is actually just going to make matters worse. Applying brakes, doing U-turns in the road, stopping in the fast lane are all very dangerous. Go with your fear. You can even speak to your fear with words like “go on, do your worst to me, but I am not stopping!” The best way of conquering fear is to go with the fear.

A person who has a fear of elevators should get into the elevator, go up and down for as long as it takes for the fear to dissipate. It might be terrifying at first but actually the fear has no base in reality! Only by traveling in the same direction of our fear will we overcome that fear!