Self-definition is always interesting, how we define ourselves. We are defined, not by our thoughts or beliefs, but by our actions. They are a clear give-away as to who we really are and what we believe. It is easy to talk about morals, values and fairness and most of us believe that we are what we say, but more often than not our actions give us away and all the tall words and notions crumble to dust.
I worked with a young girl who was caught shop-lifting and taken to the police-station. As she was questioned about stealing she kept denying it over and over again, even though the police found the stolen trinkets on her person. When I had my next session with the girl, I told her she was a thief and a liar which she denied most vehemently because it didn’t fit with her idea of herself. So I told her that since she was caught stealing and then lying about it to the police she had, by her actions, defined herself as a thief and a liar. When this penny dropped, she went paler than pale and I could see how hard this truth hit her. So we talked about self-definition and how our actions are a facit to what we actually believe about ourselves. By being clear in our self-definition and then watching how it works in action, we learn valuable things about ourselves and can then change what we don’t like.
No, she never stole or lied again as far as I know and she really learned something about herself. After some time she expressed her gratitude for this difficult life-lesson.