In our Labels post, I wrote about not letting other people define you. This post is a follow-up on that and I’m going to focus on being careful with how we define ourselves.
It’s often so easy for me to let my insecurities and past failures get the best of me. I spend way too much time worrying about these little faults and not enough time working to actually better myself. I’m beginning to realize that no matter how many times I review a situation in my mind, or think back to a past conversation and decide what I should’ve said, nothing will change. These things shouldn’t be a reason to stress, but a call to action. I can either let my mistakes define me, or I can learn from them and ultimately grow. I know that I can’t be the only one with these tendencies. We are often way too hard on ourselves in ways that will never count.
A lot of the time we strive for perfection, which is sadly impossible. And we get so caught up in it that we end up missing out on the experience. What we should be doing is striving for excellence. The way I see it, these are two very different goals. I see perfection as going through the motions and checking off goals and criteria on a list. On the other hand, I see excellence as taking the time to put my heart and soul into what I’m doing. To me excellence is doing my absolute best, not just trying hard to get everything done right. The choice is yours, you decide how you go about things. You can be too hard on yourself and miss out on potentially wonderful experiences, or you ease up and give yourself the chance to truly grow.
We always have choice. Even though we can’t always be in control of what is happening to us or around us, we can always control our reactions. Society can place its expectation on us, but it is up to us to decide if we will use those things to define ourselves or not. I have this new thing that I’ve been doing. When I find myself thinking about the “coulda, woulda, shouldas” in life, and they start to get to me, I just think or say “set yourself free”. I’ve realized that in those moments I’m the only person holding me captive. No one else in the world has as much power over me as I do. I use that phrase to get myself to snap out of it and get back on track. When you’re tormenting yourself with unnecessary thoughts, set yourself free. Stop worrying about the things that you can’t change and start working on the things that you can.
“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”
– Reinhold Niebuhr