Many people seem to spend a good portion of their lives trying to find themselves. To some degree, this has become the expectation, if not the recommendation, by our society. However, instead of recommending you to find yourself, society should be encouraging you to define yourself as a person.
The term “find” implies that that you are simply unaware of something that already exists. On the other hand, the term “define” implies that there is work to be done to develop your potential and become type of person you would like to become. While it might be nice to think that we were all born with some amazing talents, the reality is that we become good at those things to which we dedicate ourselves.
Identify Traits You Admire
When seeking to define yourself as a person, it is helpful to start out by identifying traits you admire. What characteristics do you admire in people and would like to adopt?
Some characteristics you might consider are energetic, kind, funny, intelligent, or strong. But there are so many more to chose from.
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Perhaps you know someone who embodies some of these characteristics, or perhaps you can get some inspiration from a fictional character.
Being aware of what qualities you admire will help you monitor these qualities within you. You can subsequently work towards developing these traits within yourself as needed.
Remain Curious and Teachable
What you aspire to be will change with time as you learn new things. This is good because you want to develop as nuanced definition of yourself as possible.
You should therefore strive to maintain curiosity and be willing to learn from your experiences and those of others. You will find that you may end up redefining yourself overtime due to developing new understandings.
Be Your Own Critic and Advocate
While it is important to listen to the perspectives of others, you should also be careful of other’s advice to you – particularly criticism. Even though you should remain open to perspectives, it does not mean you should automatically agree with what you hear.
You alone are best suited to identify your weaknesses, judge them, and determine how to overcome your limitations. Be open to information, but heed to it only if, or in the amount that, it makes sense to you. You alone are the one who will define yourself as a person.
Don’t Let Your Weaknesses Define You
Despite the advice to look for your own weaknesses, you should also not let yourself defined by them. Just because you made a mistake or have a certain weakness does not mean you cannot overcome it or be successful in spite of it. Work on improving on your weaknesses, if possible. However, don’t write yourself off because of your real or perceived weaknesses. In fact, you may realize that your “weakness” is not always bad. It might be a strength in some situations.
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Other times, you will find that tackling your weaknesses will be central your journey to define yourself. You might work so hard to overcome your weakness that, in the end, you end up being very good at something that were previously not very good.
If anything, be happy that you are able to identify your weaknesses. This shows maturity. Also, being able to identify your weaknesses is the first step in starting to tackle them.
Don’t Let Your Successes Define You
Just as you should not let your weaknesses define you, you should also not let what you are good at define you if you don’t want to. Some people keep doing something that they are good at, even if they don’t truly want to continue doing it. They do this because they feel they should continue doing it, or because others expect them to continue doing it.
Definitely, it is good to be aware of your strengths. However, strive to do things only if you have a reason for doing them. This reason should make sense to you. Being aware of, and working towards, your desires is essential in the process to define yourself .
Don’t Let Social Labels Define You
Oftentimes, people define themselves by their country of origin, their religion, their political views, their job, their marital status, their socioeconomic status, or their hobbies. While you may feel a sense of pride in some of these identifiers, you need not define yourself by these labels. You can choose how much you let these identifiers define you depending on what you consider to be important, or makes sense, to you.
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Don’t Let Comparisons Define You
While it is normal to notice certain differences between yourself and others, it is often wise to train yourself to not dwell upon such comparisons. This will lead you to lose focus on what is important to you. Furthermore, you are the only person for whose situation you have control. We are all different and have different fortunes and misfortunes. You will accomplish more by focusing your energy on working to become a better version of yourself.
Let Your Actions Define You
How you define yourself as a person will ultimately be evident not by what you think or preach but by your decisions and actions. If you define yourself one way but repeatedly act another way, your self-definition will lead you and others to question that definition.
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Even though it might take some practice for your actions and decisions to align with how you define yourself, it is worth the time and effort. The process of defining yourself will help you think through your reasons for doing or not doing things, and thus help you live your life more purposefully.
In summary, to most effectively define yourself as a person, you should have a general idea of what you aspire to become, be willing to expand your knowledge and understanding of things, and be willing to be your own critic and advocate.
On the other hand, you should acknowledge but not let yourself be defined by your weaknesses, by your strengths, by social labels, or by comparison to others.
The one thing that will ultimately determine how you and other define you will be your decisions and actions.
Doing the internal work required to define yourself is not an easy process, but it will definitely help you align how you define yourself and how you truly are.
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