March 3, 2021

By: Elizabeth Vainder, M.D.

Self – Image: Being intentional about who you are and who you want to be. 

“The real difficulty is how to overcome what you think of yourself.”

-Maya Angelou

Hi there! It’s been a while since I wrote and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. I’ve been thinking a lot about YOU.. These last few months have definitely left time for thinking! That’s for sure. 

As a pediatrician, I have the opportunity to see babies grow into young adults. I watch them go through the different stages of their life. I watch them change and grow not only physically but mentally and socially as well. 

I ask them a lot of questions. Questions about what they like to do, who they are and who they want to be. You always get some pretty awesome answers when you’re talking to kids and some of their answers are not only insightful and creative, but sometimes just blunt and to the point. It’s my favorite part of my job. The conversations I have with the kids. (Parents are great too, but the kids are just my favorite:))

In the last few weeks I’ve had several girls come in worried about how they physically look. It has become an obsession for them and this distorted thinking is what unfortunately leads to eating disorders and negative self image. 

So I started to think about how we define ourselves….Have you ever stopped to think about it? Well it seems that we all have a list….for some of us the list never changes and we spend all of our lives trying to change our behaviors and circumstances within the confines of the list. For others the list is ever changing and it evolves through the years. 

I kind of had this “aha” moment the other day when I realized that a lot of kids (and adults too), don’t realize that this list is not only optional but it only belongs to YOU, and no one else. 

Okay, so before I go rambling on, let me explain. Maybe when you were a little girl (or boy) someone told you that you had beautiful hair…so on your list you might have 1. Beautiful hair…or maybe it was the opposite and someone told you your hair was too thin, so again maybe that’s on your list…. 1. Thin hair

Life continues and maybe someone told you that you were good at math, so you add…2. Good at Math…Likewise, maybe a friend or parent told you that you “suck at math” so your list says 2. Suck at Math..3. A loyal friend 3. Not trustworthy…4. Willing to take chances 4. Afraid of everything.. 5. Athletic 5. Horrible at sports… 6. Make good choices 6. Always do the wrong thing …7. Artistic 7. Not creative at all..8. Extrovert 8. Introvert….9. Funny 9. Serious…10. Impulsive 10. Cautious

So life continues and your list grows whether you realize it or not. You meet people along your path and some stay longer than others and their comments or opinions begin to become a part of your list. 

This list becomes who you are (or at least who you think you are)…and it almost begins to take on a life of its own.  Did you ever stop to think about the list? We all have one. But did you know that you could change it? That’s right…you can, whenever you want. 

See here’s the thing, this list can help you or hurt you. It can hold you back or push you forward. This is why so many people when faced with the same adversity or challenge end up differently in the end. Their list is different. So today, I wanted to challenge you to question your list, edit it and begin to live with a list that pulls you forward rather than the one that holds you back. 

Feel free to download this sheet to help you write down your current list and then the one you want. We all get one chance at living…let’s make it great. Don’t limit yourself based on what others think about you…chances are they don’t even remember what they told you and here you are choosing it to define you. Begin today to live with intention, beginning with yourself. And please, teach your kids to do the same. 

Have a beautiful day! 

Elizabeth Vainder, M.D.

If you are interested in downloading an exercise on analyzing this list and creating a new and improved version of it, click here to get started.


“You are not what has happened to you, You are what you choose to become.” – Carl Jung

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