Writer, mother, wife, friend, breast cancer sur-thriver, Truth-sayer, dreamer, seeker, lover…. So many labels! Did I assign these to myself? Did others assign them to me and I chose to accept them? Are there other labels that I chose to reject, and therefore don’t appear on this list?
As you sift through the following words, commonly used as labels, pay particular attention to how (if) your feelings change while you read each one.
Did some strike a chord? If so, was it a happy chord or a not-so-happy chord? Did some not render any emotion whatsoever? (Apologies upfront for the overwhelmingly skewed negative nature of the words — I’m not techy enough to create my own list, so I borrowed from Google Images.)
How do we decide which labels to own and which ones to reject?
I remember I once attended a meeting filled with 100+ people who in some way are connected to WordPress (the platform I write this blog on). During the introduction, the host happened to catch my eye, and although I wasn’t presenting, he pointed me out by name and made a brief intro to the crowd. He mentioned I was a writer for the Holistic Networker Magazine as well as the writer of a blog called Trust Life Today.
And that was that. The meeting began. I listened. I took notes. The usual.
Meat and Chee-tos
After the meeting was over, it was apparent that the host’s introduction made an impression. Several people came up to me wanting to know more about my blog (which, I of course happily shared! What? You want me to talk to you about trust? Do you have a minute or two or maybe an hour?).
Funny enough, the last person to come up to me said, “Hello, I’m So-and-So and yeah,” with a slightly embarrassed chuckle, “I used to be a hippie-vegan.” Quickly, almost apologetically, he added, “But I just love meat.”
“Well hello, used-to-be-hippie-vegan. That’s nice. And by the way, I love to eat meat, too. Always have.”
“Oh,” he said. “I just figured, you know…..” His voice trailing off.
“And I eat junk food, too,” as I popped open a bag of Chee-tos, smiling as I offered him some.
After we finished our brief chat, I got in my car, desperate to finish my bag of Chee-tos (I had skipped lunch). Hmmm…. Hippie-vegan. Sooo, what piece of information did the host disclose that would’ve made So-and-So offer those specific words? That I write for a holistic magazine? Or that I write a blog called Trust Life Today? Either way, what interesting conclusions to draw. Interesting labels to assign.
The vegan part is clearly inaccurate (although I’ve toyed with the idea once or twice), but hippie? Sure, I guess, if you want to call me that, but no, I don’t really see it.
Maybe We Assign Labels Because…
I wonder…do we attempt to assign labels to people so we are able to associate them with something, therefore better able to put them on a specific shelf in our brains? In a specific box that we feel we have some knowledge about, and now we know who they are? Or, could it be that we’re trying to find some common ground, some way of connecting with the other person and conveying that we see them?
I believe there are many reasons we attempt to assign labels, and, for the most part, do so with no malice. The real question to ask here is: which labels will you choose to own and which ones do not belong to you?**
Hippie? Vegan? Both pretty innocuous. Those easily roll right off my back, mere water drops off of a duck’s back. They don’t mean a thing to me. But unfortunately, many labels begin when we’re very young, when we don’t yet have the mental maturity to know to reject them. One child is introduced as the athlete, the other as the artist. One as the brains, the other as the beauty. What if these labels stick and they become you; whether you consciously believe it or not, all of a sudden you own it?
Some may serve us well, perhaps making us the tenacious fighter we become. Or the dutiful employee to our company. Unless it’s not within our make-up to be the fighter, or the stellar employee focusing on someone else’s dream. When the label goes against who we are, and we continue to live it, it begins to chip away at us, at our essence.
Are you your labels? Are they working well for you? Are you able to manage the “good ones?” And by manage, I mean, keep your ego in check? Are you able to recognize the ones that are holding you back? Making you feel less than?
Remember this: You are more. You are more than your body, your intellect, your title at work, your place in the family, where you came from, and the labels on your clothes. When an inaccurate label was placed on you, and you chose to accept it, know that you no longer need to accept it. Decide, “I no longer own this label.” Rid yourself of each and every label that does not serve your higher good and trust, believe: You are more.
**Above I wrote, “The real question to ask here is: which labels will you choose to own and which ones do not belong to you?” I lied. There is a bigger question/topic to ponder, as it relates to labels, so tune in next week as we dive right in. (Wow, I’m such a liar. NOT!)
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