By Patricia Frank….
How do you define yourself? If you were to introduce yourself, what would you say? “Hello, my name is__________ and I am ________.” You are more than whatever you just said about yourself. Your life is not just what you do for a living. Nor are you just your role like Mother or Father. If you said, “and I am” and you gave the name of a disease pause and consider restating who you are. Don’t define yourself by your disease or condition.
Take a piece of paper and use the same introduction but this time write how you feel, “and I am” happy, sad, scared, discouraged, hurt, angry, depressed or whatever you think defines your emotional state.
Now, using the same format, write your attributes, “and I am” courageous, determined, capable witty, fun, generous, caring, forgiving, supportive, loving, and so on. If you find yourself writing negative attributes stop after each one and ask yourself who and why. Who said that I am selfish or clumsy or whatever and why. Usually negative attributes are inaccurate. They come from someone else’s needs and perceptions. Keep revising your list until you have eliminated the negative attributes that you listed.
Labels are potent. They are often intense and compelling. Sometimes, they dominate your personality. You may live up to them. You may become your labels even if they are not truly you. They have the power to influence and to direct your behavior. Labels can be very limiting. They prevent you from becoming yourself and all that you can be. They prevent you from becoming happy and successful. They are tyrannical and dictatorial. Take away their authority and their control over you.
Labels are not written in stone. They are written in sand. Just like the ocean at the beach, a wave can wash over them and erase them. Then you can write a new definition higher up on the beach where the water cannot reach. You can redefine yourself.
Patricia Frank is a Licensed Psychotherapist. She can be reached at 305-788-4864, 212-308-0309.