“Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.
– Robert Frost
One of the most dangerous things people do is believe other peoples’ definitions of themselves. We have all been defined from a young age, either by well meaning parents, siblings, teachers, bullies etc and all these experiences create a voice in the back of our mind which tells us who we are and by default what we are capable of.
For example: One of the words used to always describe me growing up was along the line of intelligent/smart/brainbox/nerdy. Having this definition of myself meant that in school and in life, I had to be the overachiever. I had to get all A’s. I had to be the best academic. After all that was me.
Example two: I was labelled as lazy (despite growing up playing team sports every day after school and swimming every day), this led to me believing that I was lazy and thereby creating barriers to achieving my goals. I would never ever label myself as sporty or gym bunny or anything athletic at all, despite the fact that I go to the gym on average four times a week.
We all have these definitions and they create a story which runs in the back of our mind. This can be both useful and dangerous.
The danger in these definitions is that they cause limitations in our mind. Say for example you have been called fat your whole life, you identify with fat people and fat habits, you eat more because, hey you are fat, you don’t exercise because hey you are fat. Going to the gym would not be an option as thats what fit people do and you are fat. Therefore you do not go to the gym.
However, if you learn to define yourself. You could create your own barriers to live within. Say you want to get healthy, start defining yourself as healthy. Start identifying with the fitness industry people you admire, or your friend who is a gym bunny or that guy in work who is always going for a run.
The short version in this article is: Letting other people define you cause barriers to achieving your goals. Taking the power and defining yourself can be a powerful tool in achieving your goals.
In the next post, I will explain how to use break down the barriers caused by definitions and how to use new definitions to help you to achieve your goals.