by Linda-Ann Stewart
Labeling things in your life allows you to distinguish between them. You can tell an apple from an orange, Joe from Mary, a tree from a flower. You categorize the details of your life to put them into perspective. When you want a blue car, you don’t choose a yellow bike.
It’s especially helpful for being able to identify what you might be feeling. Emotions are signals that let you know if you’re on the right track, or if something is wrong. An abused spouse feels confused between what she perceives in her relationship and what her partner tells her is happening. This is a red flag she needs to heed.
Being able to identify anger or sadness allows you to deal with its cause. It might be that someone violated your boundaries, you might have lost someone close to you, or it’s time to leave that job before you explode and get fired. Being able to categorize what you’re feeling is valuable and appropriate, and allows you to seek ways to take care of your well being.
However, there’s a darker side to this. If you begin to label yourself, especially in a negative way, you put yourself in a box and make yourself smaller. Everything outside of that box is then out of your reach. For instance, someone who procrastinates would view themselves through that filter and would live according to all that label implies.
They won’t be able to get things done in a timely fashion, because that would conflict with what they believe about themselves. They might pass up opportunities, because they’re not confident they’ll get things done on time. Or they might fail to get a project done by the deadline, and lose out on a promotion.
Labeling yourself means that you’ve carved out a certain way of acting and responding. It may have started out to help you handle a difficult situation. But those reactions may not serve you now, but you find yourself still using them. The subconscious will use your label to restrict your actions and make sure that you don’t do anything that would contradict it.
Copyright 2012 Linda Ann Stewart
All Rights Reserved