Are you defining yourself in a way that’s confining yourself?

2 min readMay 15, 2021


It leads you to believe that it’s all going south

Once my coworker accidentally boarded the wrong subway, fell asleep in her seat and ended up on the other side of the city.

She messaged the team feeling embarrassed and calling herself useless for running late.

Immediately, we all agreed that it was a rite of passage, as it happens to everybody.

Congratulations on being an official urbanite, we joked.

This event was a reminder that setting boundaries, at its core, is about developing an exquisite sense of who we are. Talking to ourselves in a manner that makes us feel secure, proud and content in our ever evolving uniqueness, regardless of the external forces that aim to stain the resolution of our identity screen.

Koontz, a man whose books show piercing clarity about who he is, writes a soothing passage about this issue in one of his novels.

She wasn’t clay in the hands of others; she was rock, and with her own determined hands, she could sculpt the person that she wanted to be.

Does that sound like you? If so, you’re not alone. This distinction has been a struggle of mine for years. The practice of not allowing single events or results to define who we are, that shit’s hard.

Like when we botch the sales call at work, receive a subpar review from our manager, get into a heated argument with our spouse, or accidentally elbow some elderly woman in the face on a crowded subway during rush hour.

All of these moments are painful in their own way. But the trick is not making matters worse by beating ourselves up and letting that single event to determine our entire standard.

My yoga teacher brings this up during class all the time. Don’t make a global judgment from a single effort, she says. Just because you fall out of one posture doesn’t mean the whole class is shot. Take a breath, tell yourself that you’re okay, and begin again.

Seligman notably named this mindset learned optimism, whereby we tell ourselves that what happened was not personal but an unlucky situation, not permanent and just a setback, and not pervasive because it’s merely one of many goals to pursue.

Don’t let a single disappointing event make you question yourself and your capabilities. Don’t allow one negative comment from someone to send you into a negativity tailspin. Don’t allow a poor outcome to lead you to believe that it’s all going south.

Fight for your identity boundaries. Train yourself to notice and resist the incredibly limited and distorted lens through which you view yourself.

You’re a good person, you’re not perfect, and you’re going to be okay.

Are you defining yourself in a way that’s confining yourself?




Author. Speaker. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. CEO/Founder of Pioneer of Personal Creativity Management (PCM). I also wear a nametag 24/7.