Do you feel defined by your disease, illness, or loss?

I recently wrote the following on Facebook:

You are not your disease, your illness, your weakness, your pain, or your loss. You are so much more than the things that weigh you down. You are kindness. You are hope. You are love. You are defined more by what you give than what is given to you.

I think the reason this post resonated so well with others (and myself) is that we are tired of being judged, by others and ourselves, and seek to be valued independent of our weaknesses.  Although I still believe what I wrote, I feel that my earlier post missed something incredibly important: how our response to our pain, loss, and heartaches CAN define us.  That is what my research and book have been all about—how we can mold our greatest challenges into some of our greatest accomplishments in life.

In my childhood years, I watched my Mom struggle with cancer and its treatments, including chemotherapy and cobalt treatment.  Her hair fell out and she was tired and sick a lot, but I still remember how amazed I was by her passion to live life to its fullest while helping others in some of her darkest hours.  I know many of you have shown that same resilient spirit and that you have seen it in others you love and admire.

Others may see you as your disease or weakness, or you may have a hard time focusing on what’s good in life (or you) when everything seems to be going wrong.  I’ve been there and have felt that, more times than I’d like to admit.  But my interviews with ordinary people who have lived extraordinary lives remind me that, even if we can’t ignore or get rid of our challenges, we can determine how they will shape us. #StrongLooksGoodOnYou

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