The Definition

How do you define yourself?

How do you define yourself?

If someone asked you that question, what would you say?

In all fairness, it’s a pretty tough question.

Chances are if you’re anything like me when I first heard this question, you would pause to rub your chin thoughtfully; think long and hard, and still likely fail to come up with an answer.

Let’s make it easier—allow me to tweak the question a little bit:

“How are you doing?”

That is a much easier question to answer, right?

Fair warning though, just because this question is “easier” doesn’t mean that your answer to this question is any less important than your answer to the first question.

In fact, hidden within your answer to this question could be your definition.

The Two Most Powerful Words in the World

I have a coworker who frequently answers the “how are you doing?” question in a very similar manner.

“I am exhausted.”

“I am okay, I guess.”

“I am feeling terrible.”

“I am sick of this place.”

The negativity of her answers is obvious, but there is something about her answers that is even more destructive than her negativity.

It’s something that the world’s most acclaimed thought leaders from Tony Robbins to Dr. Wayne Dyer have spoken about for many years.

She is unaware of the power of the words “I am.”

Not to get overly “woo-woo” and “New Age” on you here, but the words “I am” carry with them enormous power.

From what I’ve seen in my life and in the lives of many others, what follows the words “I am” has been known to eventually become a part of our lives in one way or another.


Because our habitual thoughts shape our behavior, which ultimately affects our actions.

My coworker is a perfect example of this.

Predictably, she often walks around the office looking exhausted, feeling terrible, and being miserable far more often than I have ever seen her happy.

To me, this is no coincidence.

She has used “I am” to define her reality, and she is not alone either.

We all use the power of “I am” to define ourselves every single day—it’s impossible to avoid.

The only question is this: are we using this power to consistently define ourselves in a way that empowers us, or are we choosing a definition that consistently takes our power away?

The New Definition

If you are experiencing anything less than a life that makes you feel fulfilled and happy, it is worth the time and effort to deeply examine the words that follow “I am” in your life.

We should all love ourselves enough to at least do that, right?

Speaking of friends, those two little words “I am” could be either our best friend or our worst enemy, and it all comes down to one thing.

Our choice.

We can all agree that no sane person wants to be tired, broke, miserable, and unhealthy.

Unfortunately, many of us unconsciously choose words that keep us stuck in that state for longer than necessary.

Living consciously from intention, as opposed to unconsciously from habit, means that we are always aware of our power to choose empowering words after “I am.”

The good news is that we can make a better choice in an instant and create a new definition for ourselves just as quickly.

If we look into the mirror and are unhappy with the person who is staring back at us, before we say, “I am ugly and fat,” we can choose to say, “I am a beautiful person” instead.

If we reach into our pockets and all that we’re able to pull out is lint, before we say, “I am sick of being broke,” we can choose to say, “I am becoming more financially secure each and everyday” instead.

If we are constantly finding ourselves stuck in unhealthy romantic relationships, before we say, “I am always attracting the worst guys/women ever,” we can choose to say, “I am now attracting my ideal mate into my life” instead.

Our lives are a reflection of the repetitive thoughts that we have about ourselves, and it all starts with the words we choose after we say “I am.”

The good news is that those words are always our choice.

Since we know this, what sense does it make to choose words that will likely attract feelings and experiences into our lives that we don’t want?

We don’t have to do that for a moment longer.

We always have the power to define ourselves in a way that empowers us, enriches our lives, and most importantly, adds to our happiness.

Why not start today?

This is All a Pile of Steaming B.S.

I know what some of you might be thinking.

This is bullshit.

“Look man, if I’m broke, tired, or fat, what sense does it make to lie to myself? If I’m broke, tired, and fat that’s the truth, right?”

Well, yes and no.

This isn’t about being in denial about what’s currently going on in our lives by refusing to acknowledge that we’re broke, tired, and overweight.

You’re not going to find a bigger optimist on this earth than me, but I’ll be the first to tell you that refusing to acknowledge our current reality is delusional and a little bit weird.

The power of “I am” is all about planting the seed to a better tomorrow.

Equally as important, this is about consciously choosing words that will not keep us stuck in that undesirable state.

For example, let’s say a person is carrying around a few extra pounds that he would like to get rid of ASAP.

It’s obvious that if he’s constantly saying “I am a fat slob” or “I am a disgusting pig” it will not help him to reach his goal of losing weight. Actually, it will likely have the opposite effect.

No, he doesn’t need to lie to himself by saying something he doesn’t believe like, “I am in better shape than Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.”

Instead, he could simply shift his mental state by saying, “I am getting healthier every minute of every day.”

Let’s be real–sticking with this example, which of the following self-talk will help this guy reach his weight loss goals the fastest? Beating himself up by saying, “I am a fat slob” or positive self-talk like, “I am getting healthier every minute of every day”?

Remember, our behavior is influenced in large part by the repetitive thoughts that run through our mind each day.

Even though this seems obvious (at least it does to me), there are plenty of people who still believe that this positive self-talk stuff is a pile of bullshit.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not.

This is not about lying to ourselves.

This is not about sticking our heads in the sand and ignoring reality.

This is about choosing to re-define ourselves by consciously selecting thoughts that are more in line with our highest visions of ourselves.

As cool as all of this is though, it’s only just a start.

There’s a catch to all of this, and it’s a BIG one.

Unfortunately, the wheels on your new definition will fall off in a hurry if you are unwilling to do one extremely important thing.

The Only Way To Ever “Be Ready”

If nothing else, please believe this:

Our new definitions are absolutely worthless if we don’t take actionwhether we’re ready or not.

When it comes to being ready, most people have the formula completely backwards.

Specifically, they make the very common mistake of waiting until they “feel ready” before they take action.

Some people wait until they feel ready physically before they ever set foot inside of the gym.

Some people wait until they feel confident about their speaking ability before they step up to give a presentation at the department meeting.

Some people wait until they feel comfortable with the idea of sharing their writing with the world before they launch their blog.

Some people wait until they feel confident that they’re worthy of being loved before they leave their current significant other who is treating them like crap.

Don’t be like some people.

Instead say, “I am getting in better shape each day.”

Instead say, “I am a capable speaker.”

Instead say, “I am a writer.”

Instead say, “I am deserving of respect, kindness, and love NOW.”

And then, most importantly: Take action that supports your new definition, whether you’re ready or not.

Go the gym before you feel ready.

Volunteer to give a presentation before you’re feeling completely confident in front of an audience.

Press “Publish” on your first blog post before you feel completely comfortable with the idea.

Leave your current toxic relationship before you find someone else who is willing to give you the love that you deserve.

Believe me, if you wait until you “feel ready” before you take action, you will never act.

Please read the above sentence again, because it can be absolutely life-changing if you fully absorb it.

Taking action is the only way to ever become confident and “feel ready.”

And do you know where the entire process begins?

You guessed it.

And as always, the process starts with three letters, two words, and one very powerful way to define yourself:

I am.

But it’s up to you to decide what will come after those two very special words.

So, let me ask you again.

How do you define yourself?

Your Turn

So, how do you define yourself? Do you use positive words after “I am” or do you beat yourself up more often than you should? Jump into the conversation in the comments below and make your voice heard!



Founder of The Positivity Solution
Author, keynote speaker, and kindness extremist who is committed to changing the world by helping as many people as possible to live and work with more positivity.

Latest posts by Shola (see all)


  1. Shola,

    Thank you for the reminder of the power of words! When I first read your question of how do I define myself, my immediate answer was, “I am a mom, a wife and a program manager.” As I read on, I found myself thinking, “well, yes, I am tired too.” But I don’t define myself as tired, exhausted, fat or ugly. I may FEEL those things temporarily, but they are not a permanent state. As long as I am working to improve myself, I cannot be defined as anything but blessed and successful.

    Today I am feeling quite tired. I am working from home because one of my daughters is sick. She has been throwing up for hours. Do I define myself as tired? No. It is temporary. But is currently how I feel, so it would be a good descriptor for me at this moment.

    I appreciate your constant encouragement to think about what I do and say as to how it relates to who I am. I think a lot of times people think that our words mean nothing because our actions are more important. That is a dangerous belief, because we become what our words say we will be.

    Thank you again for an awesome blog and for making my Monday a lot brighter!!!!


    • Thanks for your comment Kathy! I agree, I’m not afraid to say “I am tired” if that’s how I’m feeling, because like you said, it’s just a temporary passing state. I’m fearful of the ones who repeatedly say over and over again “I am tired” or “I am miserable” to the point where it becomes their definition. I’m a serious work in progress in this regard, but I’m light years ahead of where I was a few years ago. I’m convinced that our actions are largely influenced by our habitual thoughts, so I’m doing the best I can to define myself positively in every moment. MUCH MORE importantly, I hope that your little mama is feeling better this morning!

  2. Hey Shola!

    Ahhh this spoke to me today! Holy smokes its as if you went in my head! I define myself as “I am tired” all day everyday.. I have a sleep disorder so its my go-to statement. It creeps up in other areas of my life.. that reference to feeling broke is another one that hit home! The funny part is I am doing things to change all of them and I’ve been making great headway all year but I still repeat those comments instead of giving myself a bit of credit for my progress. Great post, really hit home!

    For the remainder of the day, I will define myself as Peachy! 🙂
    Happy Monday!

    • Hey Iva! Believe me my friend, I used to say that ALL of the time: “I am broke” or even worse “I am so sick of being broke.” And sure enough, my behavior ended up supporting my belief that I was broke. In terms of your sleep disorder, even though that is a very real condition, I would advise against repeating “I am tired” all day everyday if that’s not how you want to feel. And besides, you already said it: you want to feel peachy, right? Own your peachiness, mama! 🙂

  3. I AM…an artist
    Had to start somewhere eh?
    Thanks for another thought provoking post!

  4. “Remember, our behavior is influenced in large part by the repetitive thoughts that run through our mind each day.”

    That is my favorite line from this post! It is a powerful realization. I have always believed this to be true. Your attitude and how you choose to think about the situations you find yourself in are so important. Life is not always easy. We all have days when the “I am” isn’t so great, but choosing to think about it just a little more positively is really half the battle. I once had a boss who told me that she was blown away by my ability to handle stress. At the time, I told her I didn’t know why I handled it so well, but I know now that it is the manner in which I choose to think about the problems in my life. Putting a positive spin on things, even if it is just a little bit of positivity can help so much. Lord knows I am not perfect at this. I have many insecurities, and sometimes I can’t even stand to look at myself because I get to feeling down. If I can, I try to start thinking in terms of “at least”. So what it boils down to is that “I am” doing my best every day. “I am” kind and considerate and friendly. “I am” a person who cares deeply about others.

    Oh, and “I am” a person who loves this blog!! 🙂

    Have a wonderful week Shola!!

    • Awesome comment, Spring! Believe me, I’m not perfect at this “I am” business either (If you re-read that sentence, there’s some irony there ;)). Just like you, I have many days where my “I am” is not that great, but it’s the choice to try to think differently that can make all of the difference in the world. And believe me, I know that you are kind, considerate, friendly, and a person who cares deeply about others–and that’s why you’re one of the people who are truly making a positive difference in this world. Thanks for reading my friend, and thanks for loving the blog! 🙂

  5. Wow. This is so encouraging!
    Question 1 – how do I define myself… Hmmm still stumped actually…
    But!!! Question 2 provided beautifully heartening response to carry through reading the post!
    My answer to “how are you doin?” Was “I’m doing better”!
    Thanks for the opportunity to take stock and take notice and give a little credit where it’s due.
    I am doing better!:)

    • That’s awesome, Steph! It might seem simple, but just consistently saying “I am doing better” is infinitely better than the usual “I’m so tired” or “I’m okay” responses that most people say by default. Keep doing better, my friend–that’s what life is all about!

  6. How do you define yourself is a tough question for most people to answer. I don’t think I could answer it without giving it a lot of thought. Most people don’t realize the power of “I am.” I’ve learned that what you put out in the world is what you end up getting most of the time. Thank you for reminding me of this when I was starting to lose focus!

    “Whatever follows “I AM” will always come looking for you!” ~Joel Osteen

    • You are so on-point, Valisa–most people don’t realize the power of “I am” at all. If more people read and believed the Joel Osteen quote that you included in your comment, I think that it might change their minds in a hurry 😉

  7. Hello Shola! When fools ask how I am, I usually say, “I’m well, thank you!” In my mind, “good thanks” is a little over-used and “well” plays into my overall health, body, mind and spirit-wise.

    And the thing is, even when I don’t feel it, it’s almost always true.

    Just now, though, after reading through your “I am”s, I have this urge to add just oen thing to “I’m well”, and that’s:

    I’m silly!

    ‘Cos I take life too fucking seriously sometimes. And I wanna be more silly!

    • Right on, Rob! I think that the ability to laugh at ourselves might be my all-time favorite human trait. Who in the hell wants to be around someone who is unwilling to be silly and act a fool once in a while? Be silly my man, and I’ll be silly too–the world needs more laughter!

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