Sunday, March 7, 2021

Why You Need To Define Yourself

It is important to define yourself, it allows you to stay true to yourself and it becomes easier to live a life of fulfillment. Also if you have clearly defined yourself it is easier to find your way back when you lose sight of what is important in life. If you have never taken the time to define yourself you may be living a life to fulfill societal or family expectations and not your own expectations. You must know who you are before you can set out on life's journey to live it properly. Also regardless of your age, it is never too late to start the process. 

Most people fall into the trap of defining themselves by their job, relationships, personality, belief system or lack of belief, diet, possessions, hobbies, sports they enjoy, ethnic background, etc. Sometimes people let society, family, teachers, significant others or even bosses define who they are. Some people let things beyond their circumstances define who they are such as their health or some trauma they have experienced in their lives. There are a lot of people that never make the effort to define who they are, they live on a foundation made of sand and it is shifting all the time. The vast majority of people make the mistake of looking outside instead of the inside to determine who they really are.

I am guilty of allowing things beyond my control to define who I had become.  Back in 2009, I was told that I had cancer, I spent a year undergoing 4 surgeries and eventually became cancer-free. Just for the record, I am absolutely fine today. For about a 2-3 year period of my life that's all I could think about or talk about even after cancer had cleared from my body. One morning I woke up and realized that I had spent all this time becoming the person with cancer. I was allowing cancer to define who I was and from that day forward I never mentioned cancer again. When friends or family would ask about it I would simply respond that I am cancer-free and feeling fine. Next subject, please. 

The upsides of no longer being defined by cancer was that I started thinking about what defines people. What defines me? I realized I didn't care how people defined me but it was important that I  define myself. This put me on a path of doing a bit of soul searching. I really couldn't answer the question of what defines me and that in itself was as frightening as having cancer. I had to start a process of self-evaluation and while I believed that I had some really good things going on such as being empathetic and compassionate I didn't always like what I found. I was on occasion short-tempered, I lacked patience and I could be confrontational. Probably one of the most disheartening things I realized about myself was that I could be reactionary to information without giving the subject any critical thought whatsoever. The process of finding out who I was took several weeks and was worth every minute.

Defining yourself is basically the idea of knowing who you are, what you stand for, what your identity is, and what rules you have set for yourself. Knowing how to narrow down the essence of you is integral to shaping who you are and who you are becoming every day of your life.  

If we don't know who we truly are, how can we stay strong through the growth and change that we all experience? Knowing who we are will allow us to weather the trauma and drama that we absolutely know is coming our way at many different points in our lives.

Knowing who we are and truly defining ourselves gives us a much better chance to lead fulfilling lives. It allows us to stay true to who we really are and washes away all the outside expectations. Of course, we all evolve over time and things change but it is likely that our core definition of ourselves will stay mostly the same throughout our lives.

What defines you?

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