{Thrive} Mindful Monday: What Really Defines You?

FullSizeRenderI was listening to NPR last week. It was a story about what it means to be a breast cancer “survivor”. The focus of the story was on the fact that some women find it difficult to relate to that word and struggle with defining its meaning. It got me thinking about the ways we define ourselves. The words or labels we hold onto and those that we tend to forget. After years of work with thousands of breast cancer patients I have often heard them say that they wish they could keep their disease a secret so the world was less likely to label them as sick. As many of you know, I have been fighting my own battle with Lyme disease. I understand what it feels like to live with a disease and therefor a label– a label I have placed on myself.  I unconsciously think about my disease so many times throughout my day. I think about my symptoms, my treatment, my journey, my frustration. I have been subconsciously defining myself as a person with Lyme and I have unknowingly allowed this label to trump the all the rest. I didn’t realize I was doing this until I listened to the NPR story. I also didn’t realize how terrible this label made me feel.

I started thinking about all of the negative labels we and others use to define people and ourselves. I have Lyme. I have cancer. I am over-weight. I am have no money. I am anxious. I am single. I am….fill in the blank. I then started thinking about social labels and racial labels that can be derogatory and falsely defining as well. I could go on.

My challenge to all of you on this beautiful fall Monday is to reflect and to challenge the labels you impart on yourself and others. For example: Instead of defining yourself as a person that is unhealthy –challenge that negative voice in your head with all of your positive attributes–and then challenge yourself to do the same for others. I will tell you from personal experience that it can be really hard to sit down and list all of the things that make you great. It feels unnatural and almost self-indulgent. But that doesn’t mean you should not do it.

Share in the comments something you love about yourself. Hell, share ten things! Let go of the icky labels that you use to define yourself and rejoice in all of the beauty of you! Look past the labels you use to define others and consider all of the wonderful attributes they embody as well.

You are amazing, smart, beautiful and deserving,




8 thoughts on “{Thrive} Mindful Monday: What Really Defines You?

  1. Hi, Katie,

    I’m an NPR listener, too. In fact, it was on NPR that I learned about your work with cancer patients and looked you up so that I could subscribe to your newsletter.

    Since cancer is a disease that impacts my body, mind, and spirit, I love your tips for healthy, clean eating and also your tips for maintaining strength of spirit and mental outlook. I eagerly read each new post from you and try out your recommendations. They are great, and I want to thank you for being such a booster of well-being.

    Thanks so very much for reminding me today that there is so much more to me than cancer. Since being diagnosed with the Big-C, I have lost sight of so many non-cancer aspects of my being that make me who I am.

    Best wishes to you regarding your own health struggles. Please stay as strong and positive with yourself as you are with all of us. I know that I have a tendency to be an effective cheerleader for others, but much less so for myself. Maybe you do that, too.

    So glad that NPR led me to you.


    1. Ruth! Thank you so much for this heartfelt reply. I feel an immense amount of gratitude that I was able to touch you life in a positive way. I feel that I learn and gain for each and everyone of you as well and that truly gives my life so much meaning and joy. Thank you for your well wishes–right back to you! We all have our struggles and through staying present and choosing joy we can find gratitude in event he hardest of moments! Hugs, K

    1. Isn’t it amazing how much we learn about ourselves through these experiences. I wish you all the best on this amazing journey!

  2. Great message and very well said. We all need to make a conscious effort to be positive with ourselves and towards and for others. Thank you for the reminder.

  3. thanks for sharing Katie ! Your positive view on life is such an inspiration. You too are amazing, smart, beautiful and deserving 🙂

    YOU HAVE CANCER – these 3 words change your life in an instant. Being diagnosed with cancer does not define you but, life as you know it, will never be the same… in many ways it will be better. 🙂

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