Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What Defines You? An Exercise in Self-Relection.

What defines you?  What makes you YOU?  On any other day I would strongly dislike this question. I would hate having to answer it because it is a question that requires some serious work.  Mental work.  Lots of reflection...the deep kind.  And I hate putting things in a thinking, dreams, ideas, beliefs...the big idea of me.  So hard to answer a question like this when our "self definition" is something that I believe we are always tweeking or adding to as our life unfolds.  

As I stand here in my kitchen in a house full of kids running around with their friends, grabbing on to the last days of summer, and creating worlds from their imagination, I realize just how much my life has changed since the last time I thought about this "self definition" question.  And it makes me know even more than ever that there are so many parts of our life, our spirit, our goals, personality, reactions, family, etc. that make us who we are.  So many things fill our reality but it is up to us to choose what we do with these we will react to them, use them, and grow from them.  We define ourselves and we have the power to change our "self definitions" over time.  We hold the power to make our life a life that reflects the way we want to be defined. 

What defines me? If I were to try to "define" myself?  Here are some very rough, very raw, off the cuff, "think out louds" on this...the bones of building this "self definition"..not because I think we should try to define ourselves necessarily, or because I feel the need to define myself, but just because I think it is an interesting exercise of self reflection. This exercise in self-definition requires taking a close look at ourselves.  

  • I'm hard on myself for the mistakes I make in a parent, a wife, a friend...this defines me as a person that strives to be the very best that I can be.  This defines me as a person that doesn't settle for just "getting by in life" but sets the bar high.  
  • I have never truly been able to push myself to pain when I choice.  I've never been able to race to the point where I let it all go and see what I'm truly capable of.  This defines me as a person that might be scared of failure.
  • I can be overly sensitive to how I come across to my friends and family.  I worry about whether I offended them with something I said, rubbed them the wrong way, was too much energy, etc.  This defines me as a person that cares what others think but not out of trying to be what they want me to be.  More out of being sensitive to how I come across to other and how I make others feel when they are around me.  
  • I find myself reacting easily as a parent and not tolerating their poor choices as much as I maybe should.  I find myself being very hard on them and sometimes expecting them to meet standards that just might not always be easy to meet. This defines me as a parent that wants great things for her children.  A parent that believes that there is always something to work towards.  At the same time, it can define me as someone that needs to work on patience and grace.  
  • My relationship with my husband defines me as someone who loves deeply and passionately.  As a person that values strong relationships.
  • Coming back from injury stronger than before defines me as a person that doesn't surrender.  It defines me as a person that is goal driven and determined.
  • Becoming a mother, teaching, running and using my love for writing defines me as a person that holds her passions as important and worthy of honoring and pursuing.  
  • There are still things in my life that people close to me have done or said to me that hurt me deeply if I think about them.  This might define me as a person who values loyalty and putting relationships as a high priority in life.  It also might define me as a person that needs resolution and verbal/written communication to move on with things.  
  • Just the fact that I would even write a post like this defines me as a person who values self-reflection.  I see self-reflection as a most important part of my life in helping me grow and continue to make my life the way I want it to be.  It is a stepping-stone to DEFINING myself the way I want my Self-Definition to be.  
I could go on and on with this exercise....I could fill pages and page full of the parts of my core that work towards my self-definion.  For now, I'm done but I plan to return to this exercise some more over the next month or so as I reflect on how I want to be defined.  

So, what about you?  Will you join me in this reflective exercise of self-definement?  What is one aspect of you, your life, your core, that "Defines" you?  What is a "self defining" statement for you?  

Try this:
I _____________________________________. This might define me as ____________________.



  1. I am sometimes a little to quick to react when I feel confronted. I immediately become defensive when the situation usually doesn't warrant it.

    I think this means I am worried what others think of me and, if I feel like I'm being criticized, I become defensive. I need to work on being able to take criticism (or what I perceive to be criticism) in stride... learn from it, grow from it, then let it go and move on.

    Thanks for making me think! And that new picture of you IS SO FIERCE!!!!!!! Totally hot.

  2. You look amazingly beautiful in that pic! My gosh you should honestly be a model.

    I have been avoiding self reflection as of late...sometimes I fill my life with too much CRAP and don't make time for this.

  3. LOVE your header. You are drop dead gorgeous. WOw!!!

    I think you are baaaaack writing wise! " is a question that requires some serious work. Mental work. Lots of reflection...the deep kind." So true, yet we reap the greatest rewards when this question is tackled and answered!!

  4. FIrst of all and maybe most importantly I am SO glad you used that picture in your header! You are so drop dead gorgeous and that picture tells so much of who you are. This post too has made me feel even closer to you! I cannot express in words how amazing I think you are and just how much you inspire me in so many ways! You are probably not going to like my sentence but its something I am truly trying to work through and overcome. I am getting closer but it still haunts me and keeps me down. :( I think ultimately its so hard to come from such a dark place and while I see so much light and have experienced so much wonderfulness (my new word) I still struggle constantly with all the changes. for now this is my statement and it will evolve and it will become positive but this is where I am today: I fear disappointing others. This might define me as weak and not in control of my needs and desires. I could go on and on and maybe I will in a post later but I wanted to participate. :) Have the best day and I was so happy to see a post from you!

  5. Thank you all. Michelle. You inspire me. Your comment brings tears to my eyes.

  6. Michelle, I don't think this defines you as weak. Sensitive maybe. Possibly insecure at times (me too). Someone that cares about being better and not just settling!

  7. Don't think my first post went thru...


    OMG!!! This new header pictures is AMAZING!!

    and uh yah...completely reconfirms what we were just talking about in my email!!;-)

  8. Love this post very thought provoking. Love the new header, an awesome picture and you look so determined.

  9. Hello hot stuff! Love your header! This post intrigues me and I appreciate your honesty. I can relate a bit to each of them. Keep digging deep and thanks for pushing me to dig deep as well. I already know exacty what I want to share for "thirsty thursday"

  10. I am in a fog the past several days ... I think I text you about my current family I can't even think about this question nor can I even read it. But I wanted to say hi and one day soon, I will come and and let you know. Ok1?!?

  11. Oh, and I LOVE that header, you look totally BA!!

  12. Beautiful post and a beautiful new header! I'm a big believer in self reflection - thanks for the thought-proving post!

  13. Ah!!! Good to see a post from you girl! Miss passionate Amanda and her writing!!!! Really enjoyed reading this and it definitely provoked some thought here.

    OK-agree with the other commenters. You are definitely beautiful. Your header is really really awesome. My favorite of all the pictures he took!!

    I agree-self-reflection is necessary for sure! I spend hours often in the night thinking and reflecting on every aspect of my life! Love your bullets here!! Great exercise. The way you are processing and as a result finding things that you can be proud of or things you want to work on.

    OK-I often clam up and won't speak my feelings when I'm angry/upset. Let me work on this for awhile:)

  14. I know that the way I define myself has changed over the years. I have found hidden depths, patience, and the ability to push through hard times that I never thought I had. I've always thought I was a bit of a loner but have ended up with a wealth of really good friends who enrich my life. It's quite interesting to reflect.

    PS - Love the photo!!

  15. Beautiful and very inspirational post, I am definitely finding some me time for this exercise. You are great inspiration! Thank you!

    And I love love love the new photo, as said above, it so much shows who you are, how strong yet kind and loving you are, really great photo!

  16. Self reflection is a wonderful way to remain grounded. I think we all grasp for a definition - but for me - as I grow as a wife, mother, teacher, Christ follower,athlete and friend - I see that the deeper I look, the less able I am to find implicit and finite wording. I like the way you leave your definitions open ended and don't try to label yourself. BTW - fabulous photo, I am proud to be a reader of one that is seemingly as adept emotionally/mentally as she is physically. GO GIRL!!

  17. Love the new header! Great post. You always force me to slow down and self reflect and I really appreciate it.

  18. lets see..can I just copy your ones about being overly sensitive and reacting too harshly as a parent, for have a few more in there that are me exactly!. I could think of A LOT about my weaknesses but I think one that I feel good about is: " I don't quit easily. When I set out to do something, I will do everything I can do achieve it". I think this defines me as someone who is determined and hard working. Someone who values personal growth. I am so bad at this. that was my best attempt on the fly. I am TERRIBLE at making time for self reflection. When I do do it, it is usually when I am into reading some sort of self help book (which I love) but I have not done that for a while. I wish I had your skills. xx

  19. Two words: Bad A**. I am so amazed and inspired by you. What an excellent new header.

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  21. what a post! One of the things I admire most is just how honest you are prepared to be with yourself about yourself. You are BRAVE!

    I'm thinking on this. Thanks to you I am occasionally journaling...