I believed for a time that one way to define myself was by understanding what I am not. I thought it was a good way to start....much like the negative space in a picture defining what the picture was...
Examples of Negative Space defining the subject.
Recently, watching my mother I realize it is a terrible idea. My mother has an identical twin sister. Right now her sister had a stoke, lives in a care center, and barely recognizes her own daughter. My mother in a desperate bid to NOT be like her sister checked herself out of a care center where she was healing from breaking her hip, is incredibly rude to everyone trying to help her, and behaves like a tyrannical toddler so she can proudly say, "I am NOT like my sister." Do you know what is so sad about this? In her desperate grab for not being her sister she became the worse version of herself. The thing about defining by negative space is your only definition is in comparative status. Without the other, you become nothing.
How often do I define myself by trying to not be like my mother? How often am I defining myself by comparison to someone, something or anything but being myself? Christmas time is a time for reflection for me. So far this year I have not baked any holiday treats. I have not put up one decoration. I look like a Grinch if I define myself by what I am not. However, what I am is recovering from emergency surgery 2 weeks ago. I am doing really well. I sent all the Christmas presents to families that live in other parts of the country. I am playing Secret Santa with friends. I am humming Christmas Carols and reading about Christ. Hmmm...I like what I am and need to worry a lot less about what I am not.