Here’s an activity I found to be super helpful:
*It is only helpful if you actually participate
Step 1. Write down what defines you. Make a list of things that you consider to hold as your highest value. It could be your character traits, relationships, events, activities, or school/ work related things. Really anything you would say verbally if you were asked to define yourself.
Step 2. Actually write them down
Step 3. No but like actually make a list of them
Step 4. Great! Now look over the list you just made and ask yourself these questions:
-Which of these things can change over time?
-Which of these things are constant?
-Are there any that rely on me or another person being perfect?
-Which of these could let me down or fail me at some point?
-If any of these no longer defined me, what would happen?
The point of this exercise is to help us realize that the things we choose to define ourselves by are the things we place our identity in. If something we’re defined by changes or fails us, we will feel lost and our sense of self-worth will be affected. People and places are too fluid of things to ground ourselves in. The ideal case would be for us to place our identity in something that doesn’t change with time. Regardless of how we’re feeling that day, regardless of the test score we just got, regardless of how our friends treat us, regardless of any of our abilities or character strengths- if what defines us is independent of our current circumstances we will always be able to have clarity of purpose and an accurate view of our self-worth. When we define ourselves by our actions or the actions of others around us, or when we place our hope in the results of a test or a relationship, we set ourselves up to live in disappointment and displeasure. If our identity is outside our circumstances then whatever happens to us in life doesn’t affect us to the point of self-destruction. That’s not to say things won’t happen that shake our world upside down, but in that confusion and chaos, we have a place to reground ourselves in truth and love. When we place our identity in Jesus, and define ourselves by what He’s done and continues to do, we no longer have to worry about trying to be perfect or live in the guilt of our mistakes. We are forever defined as forgiven through grace, and loved through mercy. When our identity is in Jesus, we are able to live in freedom from our shame and love out of our response to the love we’ve been shown.