We like labels. They help us make sense of the world, where we fit in to a complex society and where others sit relative to us.
There’s so much potential information for us to learn about people, most of which would take a lifetime to uncover, that we use labels to fast track our understanding and connect the dots to create meaning.
What happens when we label others?
We’re likely to be missing out on opportunities.
The opportunity to connect with someone with whom we’ve assumed we have nothing in common.
The opportunity to learn from someone who we’ve assumed has nothing to teach us.
The opportunity to listen to someone who we’ve assumed doesn’t have an interesting story to tell.
The opportunity to receive help from someone who we’ve assumed doesn’t have any relevant skills.
The opportunity to comfort someone in distress who we’ve assumed doesn’t need us because they’re smiling.
The opportunity to love someone and be loved by someone who we’ve assumed doesn’t meet our “criteria”! (Ahem, I’ve definitely never done this one.)
What happens when we label ourselves?
We hold ourselves back.
We close down our options.
We put up imaginary boundaries which we assume we can’t pass through.
We create what are called limiting beliefs.
We suppress our mood by feeling like the negative labels we’ve given ourselves define who we are.
Employed, self-employed, unemployed, full time, part time, student, volunteer = human.
Accountant, lawyer, banker, teacher, nurse, bus driver, builder = human.
Single, married, separated, divorced, celibate = human.
Mother, father, son, daughter, sister, brother = human.
Young, middle aged, old = human.
Tall, short, fat, thin, average = human.
Rich, poor = human.
Behind the labels, we’re all human beings and we all have an interesting story to tell.
Next time you meet someone new, have a play with ignoring all the labels they come with. Be really curious about who they are, not what they are.
And if you remove all of your own labels, the ones you’ve given yourself and those slapped on you by others, what lies beneath?
Where does the world open up for you?
What becomes possible?
Labels are for filing. Labels are for clothing. Labels are not for people.
Hey there, in case you didn’t know, I’m Hana and I could be your Personal Mindset Coach.
I’m occasionally known to my clients as ‘the lovely stranger’.
I’m here to help you see things from a different perspective, to choose a different lens, to find different ways of thinking, being and doing – so that you can get out of your head and just get on with living a bloody great life.
If you’d like some support exploring this or other fascinating things about you further, then drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can arrange a cuppa some time to find out if we might like each other enough to work together.
If you like what you’ve read and want more then how’s about downloading my free ‘Where’s your head at?’ ebook – get it right here.
Or if you want to join me in a little experiment to feel more grateful for what you already have then come and join my #gratitude365 Facebook Group.