You Are Defined by the Events of Your Life

You are defined by the events of your life. The good news is that you are the one who defines what those events mean.

You can choose to believe that negative events define your life in negative ways.

You may decide that the circumstance of your birth defines you in some negative way.

  • Maybe you were poor, you grew up in the wrong neighborhood, went to the wrong schools, and didn’t make the right connections. You might choose to believe that makes you a “have-not.”
  • Maybe you made mistakes when you were younger, some of them serious. Those mistakes hurt other people, including people you loved and who loved you. You might decide that makes you “not a good person.”
  • You had a relationship that was important to you fall apart. It wasn’t the first one. Some of it was surely your fault, and now you judge yourself. You might choose to believe that you are unworthy.

These are all decisions you make. They are the frames you decide to put around events. They only define you if you invest that power in these events, events that you have in common with billions of other people, many of whom don’t believe they are negative.

You can choose to believe that negative events define your life in positive ways.

  • You can believe that you have (or that you will) escape the circumstances of your birth. You may believe that serious adversity provided you with the initiative and the intestinal fortitude to out-smart, out-work, and out-last those who were born with a silver spoon in their mouth and never met “the hustle.”
  • You could view your misspent youth as the set of experiences that shaped your values, that taught you right from wrong. There are millions and millions of people who “grew up,” some of them later than others, who have gone on to make a tremendous contribution.
  • Almost no one lives without the experience of losing an important relationship. Making mistakes is part of being human. Remaining vulnerable and open to the next relationship, even when you risk being hurt, is faith and confidence in the power of relationships.

The meaning you give events can either empower you, or they can disempower you. You choose the frame.

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