Posted by: VoiceinRecovery | August 3, 2010

Defining Words

Written by: Dianne M. Daniels

Self-esteem could be defined as what you think of yourself, but is more commonly defined as “a confidence and satisfaction in oneself” or within psychology as “an individual’s sense of his or her value or worth”.

“How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something, but has to be someone” – Coco Chanel

I’m honored to contribute this post for Voice in Recovery – and I applaud you, reader for coming here. Today I want you to think about self-esteem, self-care and your self-image. How you care for yourself and the overall health of your self-image are all essential components of self-esteem. Self-esteem means you hold yourself up as someone who is worthy, loveable, and positive. Too many of us, in today’s busy world, are walking around with low or less-than-optimal self-esteem. We constantly beat ourselves up for past mistakes, goals we haven’t reached, or other challenges we haven’t conquered yet.

We give ourselves (and we are given by society) so many negative messages, that it’s no wonder we who are traveling the road to recovery have such a low opinion of ourselves. It’s poison to your psyche, and a sure way to develop a less-than-complimentary image. Did you know that your subconscious hears EVERY WORD YOU SAY? Yes, I used capital letters on purpose – I really want you to notice that and absorb it.

I want to introduce you to the concept of Defining Words, and show you how to choose your own set of Defining Words. The first step is to re-think the way you define yourself and create a new self-definition, and use powerful affirmations to reinforce your new self-definition.

How you define yourself – what words you choose – and what you say about yourself (both out loud and internally) can either support and encourage development of a healthy and positive level of self-esteem, or contribute to the destruction of your self-esteem. Your own subconscious mind hears every single word you say and it is so primitive that it does not know the difference between the truth and a lie. Your subconscious mind will take whatever input YOU give it and make THAT your reality – positive or negative. By continually speaking about yourself in negative terms, you virtually guarantee that the negativity will manifest in your life.

You are unique and special – with over 70 Billion people having lived their lives on this planet since time began, no one is exactly like you. You possess an amazing reservoir of strength and courage, brilliance and knowledge, and the key to releasing your potential is to start seeing yourself as you WANT to be, as you DREAM of being, instead of focusing on the negative.

I’ve included a word list as a download with this article, and I want you to feel free to add any additional POSITIVE words that you have in your vocabulary. That’s the only rule – the word must be unambiguously POSITIVE. Nothing neutral, namby-pamby or heaven forbid – negative. Using the word list you created (or the original list), start by circling all the words in the list that you feel describe you now, or words that you would like to associate with yourself. Once you have a group of circled words, start reducing the number by eliminating duplicate words (i.e. pretty, attractive, beautiful all mean approximately the same thing). Eliminate words that don’t really resonate with you, but don’t let go of words that you want to associate yourself with.

Once you’ve gotten the list reduced by at least one-half, you can either choose 4 -6 of the words that are left to create a series of affirmative sentences for yourself, or let the list marinate with you for a while – no more than a day or two, though. Once you’ve created the affirmation sentences, it’s time to make them a part of your life.

Look at and read out loud these positive affirmations at least twice a day, when you arise and before you fall asleep. Each time, say “I am…” or “I am becoming…” After your subconscious mind hears this enough, it will put into motion forces in your own psyche to make what you say a reality. One great way to practice this is to look into a mirror – look into your own eyes, and say the affirmations out loud in a strong, convincing voice. There is no limit to how often you can use your affirmations – and you may find in the beginning that you use them more often, and then taper off as you become what you speak aloud.

You will also find that as you develop and change, your words will change with you. That is perfectly fine and to be expected! The words that would have described you a child will not necessarily be the words that describe you as a teen, or as an adult. The only rule about the words you choose is that they MUST be unequivocally positive.

Enjoy your journey toward a more positive self-definition!

Word List

Dianne M. Daniels, founder of, is an empowering public speaker, consultant and coach for women who have lost 50 lbs or more, or who are working toward that goal. Dianne motivates with her dynamic speaking presence, trademark high heels, high energy and high level of image tips. Dianne believes that every woman should have the tools and information she needs to love her reflection – who and what she sees in the mirror each day. She is a sought after expert in the image and self-esteem area and writes articles, hosts the ‘Love Your Reflection’ radio show on BlogTalkRadio, teaches classes, coaches individuals and groups, and enthusiastically shares her heart, her experience and her affirming philosophy that changes hearts, minds and lives.


  1. As someone who has struggled with the hearing my inner voice and God’s voice over the voice of my eating disorder, I can really identify with the importance of words. We so often say things that we think are harmless, but they can be very damaging. I, for instance, am NOT what I eat, despite the often repeated words of my grandmother! Reprogramming the inner playlist of our minds with positive words goes a long way to further us along the road of recovery. Personally, scripture is a good way for me to “override” the negative words of the world.

    • Thank you for your words…I agree with you that reprogramming the “inner playlist of our minds” (love that!) is critical to helping us along the road to recovery. I remember being told so often that I needed to “clean my plate” because our family was ‘working poor’…we did not struggle for a place to live or food on the table, but my mother was loathe to waste anything.

      I believe that to be one of the reasons I continue to struggle with my eating – I have to put less on the plate because the habit of cleaning my plate hasn’t yet been broken – though it is severly fractured!

      I also love the use of scripture to override the negative words of the world – we are special and wonderful beings, created in love, and scripture definately reinforces that.

  2. Excellent post.

    • Thank you Melissa – I’m glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

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