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Often we as a society define ourselves by what we do or what we have, like our job or work title, educational degrees, partner, house, money, family, and even the people we hang out with and call our friends. While these things may give us information about who we are, they ultimately do not define us. In fact, we limit ourselves and our options when we solely define our entire sense of self by these things.
Allow me to illustrate this idea to you with the following example.
Take for instance, the man who for years has seen and defined himself as an educator. He is incredibly committed to his job, his students, and his employers. One day he is let go from his job (a job that he was excellent at) due to budget cuts. As a result of being fired from his job, he landed in the hospital for an entire week!
I know a man like this. I spoke to him myself. Like you, I was curious to learn why he landed in the hospital after losing his job.
This is what I learned.
He could not take the rejection he experienced. When he was fired from his job he felt as if his life had come to an end. He felt as if he no longer had a purpose. It was as if someone, or something outside of himself, had taken it away. He wondered: why me? There must be something wrong with me? What will I do now? I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life! As a result of these thoughts and feelings, his body literally collapsed.
Upon exploration this man realized that what had landed him in the hospital was the belief that without his job he was nothing. In working together to help him define himself from, what I call, the Inside-Out, he realized that being an educator was just one of the ways that he chose to apply his incredible gifts, character, and strengths in the world.
When he defined himself solely by his job title, or what he was doing, he was limiting himself. He found that the qualities he was bringing to his job as an educator were so much more rich and diverse. He also realized that he can apply these same qualities to anything that he does. Recognizing that working as an educator as being only one way in which he can apply his qualities, he was now open and excited to the multitude of possibilities he was able to share those same qualities and fulfill his life’s purpose by being….himself.
In breaking free of his limited definition of himself, he was now able to unleash his true self and apply that self to everything he did, leaving himself feeling confident and fulfilled every day.
How about you?
How are you defining yourself?
Are you defining yourself by your job, the things you own, or who you hang out with?
If so, who would you be without that job, those things that you own, or your clique of friends?
“When we define ourselves by what we are, we limit ourselves, because there is so much more to WHO we are, and then some.”
In support, admiration, and in awe of all that you are,