The Age of Redefinition
Can we redefine ourselves? If we are believers in free will and autonomy, the answer is yes but is it so simple? It’s not to say no but in the truest sense of redefinition the transformation from one state to another must be absolute, definite and distinct. I don't believe we are aware of how our neighborhood, family, and friends impact who we are. For change to occur a person must be cognizant of who they are and how they are affected by or affect others. Each person, each situation is different.
It is not until we come to terms with who we are and how society has shaped us that we can begin the work of redefinition. For example, domestic violence survivors who redefine themselves abandon the values of their community, their significant other, and adopt the values of a different community (church, a group or organization, etc.). When I worked with women and children who were physical, sexually and emotionally abused, I listened to their life stories and began to understand how our core values, define how we see ourselves. People internalize what they hear, what they see and succumb to societal oppression.
To redefine ourselves we must change the message our community sends to alter our core values fundamentally. Redefinition will only be successful if there is a
deliberate and systematic effort to create change. For my patients to redefine themselves, they had to see how they were broken down by their community and learn the tools to become a different person. The process of change was slow, often painful and, for me, rewarding, as I watched their self-worth grow.
The women and children I worked with were undertaking a deliberate and systematic effort to redefine themselves all while throwing off the yoke which. They no longer wanted to be held to the standards of a society which glorified violence, hatred, and misogyny; they wanted to
focus on opportunity, on themselves and others. They began to believe they were worth more than what their abuser told them they were worth. They began to see a future.
Redefinition is scary, but it is especially scary when a loss of all that one has known is necessary to redefine their self. In an age of redefinition, a person eschews the definition leaders espouse whether the leaders be parents, significant others, relatives or government have set forth and work towards their definition. The act of redefinition requires you to leave most of yourself behind. The only part brought into the new person is the resolve to fight, to change and to not believe another can define who you are.