“Mom, my brother called me a baby!” This scene plays out in my house a dozen times a day; inevitably I’ll get exasperated and say “Ignore him, if he called you a kangaroo, would you grow a pouch and start hopping?”
It sounds like child’s play, but if we think about it, how many of us are struggling because we allow other people to define us?
When you realize that you have the ability and right to define yourself, amazing things start to happen in your life. You realize that you have the power to make decisions that are right for you and with that comes the confidence to go for what you want.
So who am I?
Defining yourself comes from a combination of articulating your values and acknowledging your strengths. Knowing these things will give you a clear picture of where you want to go and the tools you have to get there.
What concepts or ideals resonate most strongly with you? What do you want more of in your life? What would you like to avoid? Some examples of values are:
When you are defining your values, it’s important that you don’t allow yourself to be swayed by what you think you should value or what you think other people would value most. There are no right or wrong answers and everyone will have a different set of values.
Once you’ve uncovered what your top three or four values are, you can start asking yourself how they fit into your life and goals. If they don’t, it’s a signal to re-evaluate your life and find a way to live according to your values.
So many of our struggles and feelings of powerlessness come from living a life that isn’t congruent with our values.
However, once you define your values and embrace them, your confidence will soar as you start to feel more comfortable in your own skin.
Like values, there are no good strengths or bad strengths; we all have our own unique blend of values and strengths. The world would be a pretty lop-sided place if everyone were a rocket scientist or impressionist painter, so there is no need to feel bad about the strengths that you don’t have. The idea is to celebrate the ones you do, enjoy them and be open to the possibilities they provide you.
Don’t forget to look at your weaknesses for hidden strengths. You could label yourself shy, but could it be that you like surveying the scene before you jump in, and you have the gift of being able to hang back and think before you speak?
Focusing on your strengths doesn’t mean you avoid challenges or only do things that come easy to you. What it means is that you can use those strengths to approach problems and new situations in a way that’s comfortable for you and gives you an advantage in succeeding.
The Power of Knowing who You Are
Once you have defined who you are, you now have the power to approach your life and goals from a position of strength instead of using a set of tools that has been thrust upon you. Confidence comes from a combination of healthy self-esteem and feeling comfortable in the situation. When you go into every situation feeling at ease with who you are, no matter what happens, you’ll come out ahead.
When you understand that you don’t have to live under other people’s definition of who you are, it’s mind-blowingly liberating. You know longer have to waste time worrying what other people think about you or trying to live up (or down to!) their expectations. Instead, you can focus your energy on achieving your own goals and can harness the power of knowing exactly who you are.
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