How do You Define Yourself?

It’s amazing how we may not even realize we’re stuck in a rut, until we think about something as simple as how we describe our lives to others and ourselves.

Personally, for a long time, I was really good at focusing on my problems. Being someone who has grieved the loss of seven family members (including both parents), two dogs and a puppy, over the recent years, while facing other life challenges, including being a single mom, I was consumed with these negative aspects of my life, for a while. And I was in awe that so many negative experiences could happen to one person, and in such a short period of time.

Then I realized that as important as it is to give a voice to our experiences, I didn’t want to ruminate about my problems anymore or have them define who I am. I was more than my challenges, and there was more to my life than that.

I was persevering and doing well in a lot of ways, such as work, being a good mom, managing my own home, in spite of the challenges. And that’s what I decided to focus on – moving forward with the good stuff. I would rather my mind be filled with my goals, dreams, successes and the many wonderful things in my life that I’m thankful for each day.

I had this image in my head of two paths with little wooden signs pointing in different directions – the past and the future. And I decided that the past, whether it is my way of looking at things or describing my life, was no longer an option. I was determined to keep my focus positive.

We have a choice about what we want to ruminate about, and research suggests that focusing on things that are meaningful to us is empowering and has a positive impact on our emotional state. Engaging in things such as goals can be a powerful step toward moving forward from our challenges.

If you feel stuck, a few simple questions you can ask yourself are:

  • Is your description of yourself or your life positive or negative?
  • What’s the ongoing theme of your life?
  • Are you ruminating about negative things that are consuming –
    versus enriching – your life?
  • If you were to redefine yourself, what would that look like?

You have a choice about how you want to look at things. What we tell ourselves about who we are or about what’s happening in our lives – with a positive versus negative focus – has a direct impact on what we will achieve or limit ourselves from achieving.

If we think we’re struggling, we are; if we think we can’t achieve, we won’t; if we think we can, we will.

Sometimes we just have to remind ourselves about who or where we want to be, and define ourselves that way.

We can achieve our dreams. And the more we believe and graciously persevere – respectfully toward others – the more our dreams become a reality.

Michael J. Fox put it eloquently when he said, “Look at the choices you have, not the choices that have been taken away from you. In them, there are whole worlds of strength and new ways of looking at things,” (Good Housekeeping, October 2013).

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Columnist and Freelance Writer – Your 'go to' for emotional well-being… When we feel better, we do better.