Personal Growth


10 . 11 . 2016

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Written By

Cherene Thomas-Smith

Words — they can carry great power.

They’re like labels we wear daily for all the world to see and can subconsciously define how we think, act, and ultimately become.

We all have the power of choice though, and we can choose to create and wear our own labels or the labels others put on us.

Personally, I detest ‘people labelling’, but sadly it is a fact of life. Society has the inane need to label other people. But, we still have our inner power of choice – to either accept or reject the labels applied by others.


Two years ago I was living every mother’s nightmare. My youngest son had passed away 12 days earlier – suddenly and unexpectedly — and I was really struggling. Struggling to comprehend what had happened, how I would cope, and what the future now looked like (which at that point was looking pretty bleak).

On this particular day I was sitting, staring blankly at a wall, when suddenly some random words just popped into my head. Words that I felt compelled to write down, that I would live and die by, and that would define my journey forward.

I wrote them down and stuck them on my bathroom mirror where I could read them at the start and end of each day — a quick reminder of how I wanted to think and act, who I wished to be and how I wanted to be seen by the world.

Two years later, the original list of 10 words are still an extremely important and powerful part of who I am now – and today I will add one more.


So what words did I write down? What did they mean to me, and how would they shape me?


Strength (of Character)

The attributes of the warrior: honour, truth speaking and truth seeking, wisdom, respect, integrity, empathy, loyalty, leadership and resilience. Mastery of self and freedom from biases and prejudices of the mind. Displaying tolerance, love, and respect for others



I wished to retain my composure as much as possible. To try not to lash out at the fate that had befallen me and my family. To treat myself and others with respect and honour. To value my own worth, and the worth of others!



The fortitude to confront and overcome fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, difficulty and grief —without fear. To be brave and keep putting one foot in front of the other on my journey into a new and unknown future.



This is a positive emotional state that involves persevering towards a difficult goal in spite of obstacles. For me, I was quietly determined to go about my business in my own way and make my son proud. No bells and whistles, no fanfare – just quiet determination.



Understanding, sympathy and concern for the suffering and misfortune of others. Shifting my focus off my own misfortune, getting outside of my own head and reaching out to help others has in turn helped me. You reap what you sow!



The quality of being humble — of not thinking or acting like you are better than the next person. In my case, to not act like I was any worse off than another person who was suffering and being respectful of others.



An optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. I could dwell in my own misery, or I could maintain a more optimistic attitude and hope. Two years later, hope has served me very well.



A confidence, trust or belief in a person or thing that is not seen. It can also be a spiritual or religious belief in a higher power. I needed to have and maintain faith that all would work out, that I would survive — and with that, came my own spiritual faith.



A state of endurance under difficult circumstances. Persevering in the face of irritation, pain, misfortune or grief. My patience has been tested to the limits and has been challenging at times, but hope, faith and determination have all assisted.



Can refer to an emotion of a strong attraction and personal attachment or a virtue representing human kindness, compassion and affection. For me, love was all about making sure that I showed love and was open to receiving love, as well as looking after myself by practicing self care.

And that other word I wanted to add?



When we express gratitude we recognise that the sources of goodness we have or will receive are actually outside of ourselves.

We acknowledge that other people, circumstances, or higher powers give us many gifts —both big and small — to help us achieve goodness in our lives. I have so much gratitude for so many things, but we will keep that for another day!

Today, when I look in the mirror I see the woman who wrote her own labels – and I wear them with great pride. When I look her in the eye I see strength of character, dignity, courage and all those other words/labels I wrote for myself.

So, now it’s your turn to choose your own words for yourself.


Ask yourself these questions:

Who do I wish to be?

How do I wish to be seen by the world?

How do I wish to remembered when I’m gone?


Now consider these questions:

Are you wearing any words or labels that have been applied by others?

How do they make you feel? Good, or bad?

If you’ve been wearing some ‘feel bad’ labels, try this short visioning exercise.

Close your eyes and imagine sticky notes all over you with words on them.

Find the old ‘feel bad’ labels, peel them off and put them in the bin.

Replace them with your new ‘feel good’ labels.

Now stand in front of the mirror and look yourself in the eye and repeat after me  “I see (insert your word here)”.  Repeat with each of your new words.

And finally, step out into the world as that person you saw in the mirror — the person you were born to be. Live it, breathe it and own it.


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I'm Rebecca Sparks
Founder of The Daily Guru, Confidence & Life Transition Coach, Speaker, Podcaster, Educator, Adventurer & Goal-Getter!

My mission is to help women believe and invest in themselves and  to help them to carve out their own exciting and fortuitous path in life.

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