How Our Words Define Us

“What is your ‘word’?” A good friend posted this question on her Facebook page after watching the movie Eat Pray Love, in which the main character (played by Julia Roberts) has her “word” – one which has infinite meaning and truth for her, that is her guiding principle. I loved the question, and carried it around with me for many days, mulling it over.

I first answered “brave” because another friend’s post a few weeks before had become a personal mantra for me: “Stay calm. Be brave. Watch for the signs.” I like that. It prompts me to breathe when I feel the stresses of life creeping into my shoulders (the first symptom of pending panic), and it reminds me that something greater that I am is in control…a huge relief when I know I’m certainly not!

So brave was a good word for me, but it expressed only a part of what I wanted to define me, to guide me. It wasn’t my word.

My friend had many comments on her posting, with people adding a range of words by which they wanted to live: peace, reliable, honest, faith. Still, no word fit what I wanted. I found myself noticing words and catch-phrases everywhere, and I began to examine and discard them: dream, live, laugh, love, choices. All lovely words, all words by which I wanted to live, too, and all words I wanted to define me, but they seemed to be only bits of something greater. Dreams were too ethereal, living lacked description, laughter wasn’t always appropriate, faith felt too vague, choices were what I made but didn’t define the action that let me make them.

What I needed was something more all-encompassing, something that could define an entire lifetime, an entire personal philosophy.

And then I found it.


Believe works. If I believe, then bravery is a given, and so is calm. If I believe, my dreams move from being abstract into the realm of possibility. I am free to live my life to the fullest, knowing it is unfolding as it should. I can love those around me for who they are, and not who I would like them to be, because I know they’re doing what they need to do, too. If I believe, then I am where I am supposed to be, learning the lessons I need to learn, doing what I need to do at this moment in time. I know that the laughter will come in all the right places, and that there is a reason for the pain and the uncertainty (even if I can’t see it at the moment); I know that my choices and actions, while not always prudent or well thought-out, will continue to work together to make me better, stronger, wiser.

And so I choose BELIEVE as my word, because it defines how I want to live my life. It defines me. I believe most people are reliable, and that most of them are honest. I believe in human decency. I believe that if we raise our expectations, people will rise to meet those expectations. I believe in the possibility of peace, and in the potential of humanity (despite what we see in the news every day) to turn itself around. I believe we can all learn to make wiser choices – or at least enough of us to make a difference. I believe in our ability to overcome our own weaknesses.

I believe, because I choose to have faith. I choose to be strong. I choose to live and love and laugh. I choose to believe that I will learn from my mistakes, and that I will continue to grow as a human being because of them.

I choose believe, and I choose to believe.

And now it’s your turn…what is your word, and how does it define you?



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14 responses to “How Our Words Define Us”

  1. Savannah Chase Avatar

    I think I will say fighter…I have gone through a lot in my life and have stayed strong to fight on…I think you picked great word…

    1. lindapoitevin Avatar

      Thank you, Savannah. Sounds like you’ve picked a good one, too. 🙂

  2. Stella ExLibris Avatar

    Thank you for the great, inspirational post Linda! And I agree, Believe is a wonderful choice as it has so many messages all strong and hopeful and positive and trustworthy. Love it! 😀

    1. lindapoitevin Avatar

      Thanks, Stella! I think that’s what I like about it, too…all those layers and possibilities. 🙂

  3. S.L. Westendorf Avatar
    S.L. Westendorf

    Hmmm… MOVE.
    The only way I work through something is to MOVE through it. Writing, music, and my family, MOVE me. When I am working on a project I MOVE toward my goal. Certain elements in my life MOVE me in the right direction and when driving down the highway in the passing lane, and I come up behind a slow driver, I’d appreciate it if they would just MOVE! LOL.

    In all seriousness, your post is thought provoking and inspirational – thank you for that gift! 😀

    1. lindapoitevin Avatar

      Oh, I hear you, lol! And thank you for the lovely words. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  4. C-C Lester Avatar

    I need to think properly about this one – my initial thought is FIRE, which I have tattooed in Mandarin on the inside of my ‘write’ hand (my first novel was about teenagers with powers over fire, and I like the images of passion, life, power, energy and spontaneity that come with it), however I’m sure I can come up with a few more
    Lovely post and great idea
    C-C xxx

    1. lindapoitevin Avatar

      Thanks, CC…and after reading your blog, I think fire is very appropriate!

  5. Jessa Slade Avatar

    Being a word addict, I find it hard to pick just one. I’m heading out to walk the dog so I think this will be my meditation for the hour. I have to say, I like the three woven together: “Believe, fighter. Move!”

    1. lindapoitevin Avatar

      LMAO, Jessa…that’s perfect!

  6. […] writer friend of mine, Linda Poitevin (whose first book comes out in September!) has a great post on choosing a power word. I’m sometimes reluctant to pick out favorite words for fear of […]

  7. Carol Avatar

    Most days my word is “trust”. Trust myself. That even though I may not know how I am going to get through my day or accomplish a long term goal I have set, I have the ability, determination and strength to do so. Trust in others. Though I have been hurt and betrayed there are many, MANY, good people in the world and my life. To learn from, lean on and love.

  8. Carol Avatar

    Also the most wickedly frightening thing for me to do on a daily basis. 🙂

    1. Linda Avatar

      That is a tough one, yes…but I’ve seen you in action, my friend, and you’re very good at it. 🙂

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