WTF is with all these labels?
We all use ’em.
Not just for files, but for people, places, food, clothing, anything, which requires our judgment (or at least we believe it does).
Truth be told, is it possible to live without labels?
I know when I read a book or see a movie; I label the material and its creator.
Our society screams labels everywhere you look. We label people, places and things we’ve never met or personally know. But, because we’ve heard or read about them, isn’t that just the same as knowing and experiencing? The short answer is, “no.” It makes a story, which is not true. How do you “truly” know anything unless you experience it yourself?
We create limitations. Labels can stop us in our tracks from taking risks and trying something new.
Labels are often used to support our “very old” beliefs in how we perceive the world. Labels may limit the thinking for what an individual deems possible for oneself; it keeps patterns intact. Labels are used to define others too and the place we allow them to exist in our life.
Labels are used for anything out of the norm, to identify a person, such as, “you are diabetic, a sweetheart, an alcoholic, a cheater, etc…” The list goes on. Does a label ever tell the whole story? Or the many layers and parts that make up the whole of who someone is authentically? Nope. Not at all.
Labels can be used to discount and judge, minimize or maximize how we view another and most of all oneself.
I’m female; the label explains my gender. Everything else is up for grabs; depending on who is labeling me, which is “subjective,” because it is based on the perception of someone else.
Sometimes people get a glimpse of us and think they know who we are based on a circumstance. Maybe they witness us in a store with an inconsolable child; they read an opinion we posted as a Facebook status, we belong to a religion or a political group and “right there,” they label us a certain kind of person…or by reading this article, quite possible they figured me out….
We all do it and we’re all recipients of labels. Which labels do you believe about yourself?
I’m the oldest kid in my family, which inspired the belief of my being ridiculously perfect, overly responsible and caretaker for everything and everyone.
I limited myself to these labels for a long time, until I realized as with other things…I can lose the labels. I can let em’ go, be free as a bird!!! I’m able to change my mind creating new experiences through the awareness I now have of how these beliefs and labels controlled my past decisions.
I now see how it affected past experiences I labeled as bad, when it wasn’t the entire picture….
My perception was skewed because of my false beliefs…. every day is an opportunity to continue removing the barriers I built from somehow thinking these beliefs were set in stone. What a freakin’ relief it was to discover I could choose to toss the label and create a whole new reality!
Many people label things to categorize and compartmentalize all nouns. It is a form of mental organization; the file folders with a positive or negative label attached — designed, so we don’t have to re-visit certain experiences again.
And when one opens up the attic door blowing off the dust from those folders and changes the label from those long ago determinations — it’s like winning the jackpot! It is a chance to take a complete risk now by opposing the attachment of past labels to your experiences. A clean slate in the present moment; it’s a whole new place to live from, happily.
In the present, I try to be selective when labeling things, situations and people.
I was having a very in-depth conversation with this man in my life a while ago. We were discussing “us” and I said, “What are we gonna call this?” I said, “A whatever?” he sort of looked at me and just continued talking about the subject at hand.
So, as I wrote this article a thought struck me; what fun labels could we comfortably use for our really good, undefined, organic, fun, fertilize regularly type of relationship—that fit our slightly quirky selves?
As I got ready to go meet a friend, three ideas came to me for what to call this untraditional relationship. Let me preface it with I tend to connect random thoughts to reality, all the time. And I am all about connecting food, animals and performing to my naming convention.
As he is currently in another country on business, I shot him over an email.
I asked, “What is your vote on calling us “in a potato” which means you’re “my favorite potato-head and I’m yours. Or how about we are in a “work of art”, in which we are each other’s artistes…. Or lastly we can be “in knee deep in honey” and I am your bear and you are mine.”
As a nod to the Universe: while driving to meet my friend, I saw a billboard. It said, “Work of art.” Moments later, as I met my friend in the wine bar, he suggested we order French Fries. He explained how “potatoes” were all he could eat on his diet. In the background, as we chatted, a ring tone went off over and over that is the exact one I use on my phone for this man…considering there were only 2 other people in this place, it was loud and clear…. at least I didn’t meet any “bears” in Los Feliz last night.
I would love to have seen him chuckle and shake his head as he read my email, but he’s thousands of miles away in an isolated place. And as I already knew prior to asking him, we are all those labels, plus more, that continue to expand and explain our rare, special and unlimited relationship with each other.
Labeling in my life is not a place I will ever “perfect”, since my goal is to remain imperfect (label). I just want to continue to be aware of when I create labels, which hold me back, keep me in or handcuff me from living my life fully.
Experiment and try kicking the label habit that may have you stuck in a rut.
Maybe when you tried sushi, it was horrible, and you swore you’d never eat it again; why not give it another shot? Or how about the perfectly coiffed Mom who drops her kid off at school and you have labeled her as unapproachable; maybe you were wrong? Or the time you rode the roller coaster and got sick, could it have been too much cotton candy? What about the time you got up on stage and flubbed your entire speech in front of the whole school; swearing in that moment that you were labeled a horrible public speaker and would never endure that humiliation again?
How about getting on the horse and riding again?
Join Toastmasters, try the sushi, don’t prejudge people on appearances and see how you can be pleasantly surprised. I do this every day.
I invested in a new “fun” label maker, one that creates joy, happiness and possibility.
edited by Greg Eckard
Tracy Crossley is a hyphenate: female, writer, curiosity quencher, artist, poet, gardener of real gardens and existential ones, clairvoyant, momma to grown ups, life coach and real, imperfect chick. Love life, even days when I don’t like it and appreciate, appreciation for everything. Website: www.13degreez.com and Blog: 13degreez.wordpress.com.