define: to determine or identify the essential qualities or meaning of
refine: to improve or perfect by pruning or polishing
As you can see from their definitions above, although "define" and "refine" are separated by only one letter, their meanings are vastly different. And when facing struggles or difficulties, which we all will, we can choose one of the two, and the one we pick can make a profound difference in the way we live our lives.
Unfortunately, I believe it's way too common to be defined by our faults, strengths, weaknesses, illnesses, family, job, defects, etc. It's just basic human nature. It's our default. It often feels like the easiest thing to do. We can just throw in the towel and let our circumstances dictate our actions and attitudes. I can remember as a doctor often getting to see this first hand. Patients of mine would become fixated on their sickness or disease and it consumed them. It would seemingly take over their lives.
I know when it comes to me there are times it feels like all I can think or talk about is my traumatic brain injury (TBI). My life starts revolving around it. I give way too much attention to my struggles, and make sure everyone else knows about them as well. But this is exactly what I don't want to do because this when I'm letting my TBI define me.
So instead of focusing on all the things I can't do anymore, I need to change my focus on to what I still can. Instead of thinking about what's worse, I need to consider what's better. Instead of dwelling on what I've lost, I can look at what I've gained. I know that If I can be intentional and do these things, my TBI will no longer be defining me. This is when it will start refining me.