Nosce Te Ipsum.

Being Defined
Often times, we feel compelled to put labels on ourselves, on other people, or on situations. I think this is how we attempt to make sense of life -- categorizing things is human nature.

One should not just tolerate insults and harsh words, but also forgive with a peaceful mind.
- Radhanath Swami

I have learned that perhaps one of the most valuable things you can do for yourself is to learn how to deal with negativity and criticism calmly and with grace.

When we have a weak sense of self (you could find my post here on what I feel defines having a strong sense of self), we let ourselves be defined by others and let their projections of us ruin are lives. We let them write our destiny, to tell us how we are, and to tell us who we are. They may be right, but most of the time they are not.

Most of the time we let ourselves be defined by people who have no idea who they even are to begin with. The individuals who realize who they are would not be defining others. They would be able to see the utter pointlessness and ridiculousness of it.

We have to ask ourselves: is this how I wish to be seen? A bundle of other people's opinions? 
Your sense of self confidence should not come from what other people think of you. You should not seek self validation from others. Your sense of self should come from your own inner workings and how you live your life with integrity and love for all. 

I feel that our life's work is to learn how to be a joyful human being. In that, we must learn how to feel comfortable and natural with everyone. It doesn't matter if they feel it or not -- that's their problem and you cannot control that. But at the very least, you should be at ease, and that's all that matters.

I'd like to leave you with this final thought: 
Whatever labels you put on yourself will limit you.
Whatever labels you use for anyone or anything will become your prison.

Defining Yourself.
"To thine own self be true."
-William Shakespeare, Hamlet
Defining myself, as opposed to being defined by others, is one of the most difficult challenges that I face.

As I grow older, I find that in trying to figure out who you are, it can be difficult to hear our own voice -- the beat of our own drum. Our parents shape and mold us to a degree; our peers do the same. Most of us are raised to please others, to be considerate, to be polite, to practice self-restraint. 

Defining yourself puts restrictions on you because it makes you feel as if you always need to live a certain way to maintain these definitions and expectations. If you don't, you fail.
But we are not meant to live a life where we are expected to behave a certain way. 

Whatever definitions you put on yourself can be broken down by our peers in the blink of an eye. For instance, if you announce proudly that you are a “nice person," life will constantly put you to the test. One day you may act in a way that is perceived as “not nice” by someone. Your reputation is ruined in an instant. A new label has been attached to your name: “cruel.”
This will hurt you because you so meticulously picked out “nice’ to be defined by, and now someone thinks you are the complete opposite. 

I think that our true power and wisdom lies in not only being able to define ourselves, but in knowing who we are. 
Knowing yourself means that you are not just one thing -- you are a thousand different possibilities. You are able to recognize the fact that it is ridiculous trying to identify yourself deeply with just one of these possibilities.
Knowing yourself also means knowing your limitations -- to be able to acknowledge what you are, and what you are not. 

Only when we know who we are, we will know how we need to be in this world -- what our purpose is here. Only when we know who we are, we will know others. We will have real relationships. We will be real.

"All I can do is be me, whoever that is."
-Bob Dylan.


  1. This is a great post and it comes at the perfect time for me! I'm probably guilty of trying to fit into the labels and being defined by them, so I'll definitely be having a look at that :)

    Velvet Blush | Beauty Giveaway

  2. Well said. I think the first thing is to actually be exposed to negativity & criticism so you can understand how you initially react to it. After that is when you can work on not being so affected by it. :]

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  3. Great post! x

  4. What a wonderful post, Alex. Limitations and restrictions do come when one does either of the above things. It's human nature to want to make sense of things (hence the labelling and defining) but I do think that there is extreme simplicity in letting things roll along without constraint.

    May | THE MAYDEN

  5. Really a good read right here, Alex. Putting things and people into categories aren't the best thing. And getting to know yourself is the only way to know our limitations and abilities.

    -Leta | The Nerdy Me

  6. You have a really beautiful blog design and I am so glad I came over to read this post, really insightful and written so well xxx

  7. This is probably one of my favorite blog posts I have ever read. When I die, I want to realize that I lived a full life, not one lived inside a cage of the rest of the world's expectations. +1 for a Bob Dylan quote too.

  8. I really resonate with this! I got a negative response to something recently, and it's difficult to respond positively to something negative. I saw a video recently from Kandee Johnson where she was talking about negativity and hate online, and she's really good at handling it without giving into the hate.

    becky ♡ star violet

  9. A very wise and beautifully written post, Alex and this post resonates with me, it pretty much describes my 20s. I have no identity, am pretty much a lost soul not knowing who I really am instead, I drifted with whatever trend and friends I hung out with at the time. Hitting 30 was one of the best moments of my life, I was wiser and confident about who I truly am. So fine lines and wrinkles aside, being in my 30s and late 30s now isn't that bad after all. :-)

    Reflection of Sanity | Palmer's Cocoa Butter Care Package Giveaway (Canada ONLY)

  10. This post is truly enlightening! I love how useful your blog is.

    XX Michelle | NEW POST| Scream of Silence

  11. This post really inspired me- I love your quote 'knowing yourself means that you are not just one thing -- you are a thousand different possibilities'. I still struggle with being confident in who I am sometimes!

    - Gracie Sees xo

  12. Hello dear! Your blog is fantastic!

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    And let me know in the comments of my newest posts so I can follow you back!