Know Thyself- The Good and the Bad About Labelling Yourself

I did say I’d be writing a post on this topic this week. Better late than never though right?

Last week, I wrote about getting to know yourself, the new you, or even your current self. It’s only natural that in the process of doing that, you may start labelling yourself.

I’m pretty sure that if you’re a human being, you’ve been labelled by others too. The good in the labels come down to whether they’re the truth or not.

Labelling Yourself- The Good… or At Least the Acceptable

Some labels are simply truths whether biological, or in terms of your personality or looks. For example, here are a few labels that would apply to me:

  • Brunette
  • Short
  • Female
  • Writer
  • Musician
  • Shy
  • Messy
  • Opinionated
  • Christian

These labels are facts about the way I look, what gender I am, what I do, some of my personality, and my spiritual beliefs.

These are all facts that can be proven. They are not even all bad, although I do hate being shy.

There are many other labels that may be true about me, but also some that aren’t, whether I attached that label to myself or others did at some point.

Whenever considering the labels attached to you, look at yourself, as unbiased as possible and as objectively as possible.

Which are true and which aren’t? Which would you like to change?

Now, as controversial as this is, and in the current climate of the world, this opinion could bring me a lot of hate, but I don’t mean go change your gender. I’m also not saying that you necessarily need to go for plastic surgery. Although I do believe that these are your choices to make.

In my case, I mentioned that I hate being shy. This isn’t a personality trait so much as fear of judgement when meeting new people or when I’m around people I don’t know very well.

This is something I want to change and fully believe I can get over. Messy is something I should probably work on too. But my fellow messy people will agree that there is order in the chaos. I stand by that.

If the label is unhealthy, lazy, moody, etc, you have the power to change that. We are not stuck in our ways. Or at least we don’t have to be.

If these things are true for you, are they bothering you? If so, why? Is it that you aren’t happy about it? Use this as a catalyst for positive change in your life.

Why Labels can be Negative

The labels that are negative are those that aren’t true, that are simply opinions of others or yourself that aren’t based on facts.

They’re also labels meant to shame you, break you down, and are unhelpful even if there is some truth to them.

If someone calls you a loser or you call them that, how does that make any sense? You may have lost this race or talent show or done something that someone else deemed uncool, but in terms of life, are you really always a loser?

Unless you’re sitting on your butt giving up on life or some skeezy person disrespecting or hurting someone else, no. I don’t think you are a loser at all.

How many girls have been called a slut or how many people have been called fat and/or ugly? These are just a few negative labels out of many more.

The very nature of these labels are hurtful.

Even if someone has been a little loose with their morals, to call them a word like slut isn’t helping the situation. I truly believe that kind of behaviour is rooted in low self-esteem or looking for love and acceptance in the wrong place.

I may be wrong, but further disrespecting someone isn’t the way to help them. The same goes for words like fat and ugly.

Goodness knows I’ve called myself those last two words many times in my life. I know a lot of other women and girls have too. Even guys have felt that way about themselves.

But whether you call yourself that or someone else called you that, how is that helpful? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is anyone truly ugly? And if someone is overweight, shaming them for it isn’t going to help.

The truth is that no matter what your behaviour is, your lifestyle, your habits, your beliefs, your gender is, etc, you are still valuable. You still matter.

I’m paraphrasing for Jesus here

None of these labels or what you did or other people’s cruelty can take away your worth as a person.

I truly believe that we all have inherent value. I believe this of every person, even murderers and rapists. Not that I condone any criminal or bad behaviour. We just aren’t living up to whom we truly can be in those moments.

But we are all capable of change for the better, even if all the change that’s currently needed is throwing off these useless labels.

Beliefs

I was listening to a podcast today called The Stoic Coffee Break and in particular, the episode, I, Me and Enlightenment.

The host, Erick, was talking about a concept he had read in a book that deals with “I” and “Me”.

“I” is the core of who we are. “Me” are all the labels we assign to that core person. And many people become unhappy or stuck because they focus too much on the “Me”.

The examples he used was that if you label yourself a runner, but you now decide you don’t like running any more or you get injured and you can’t run, have you now changed who you are?

Are you no longer you? The answer is no. The “I” still exists even without some of the labels of “Me”.

As a man thinks, so he is.

Proverbs 23:7

The issue with putting so much stock in labels is that we start to believe them. My imagination is telling me that really, by the time something becomes a label, it’s a belief, because else it wouldn’t have stuck, right?

I came across that verse I quoted many years ago. My husband, who back then was still my boyfriend, had read The Secret.

Back then, I thought the whole concept was complete crap. I don’t quite believe that anymore, although I do think the whole concept of The Secret is a little dodge.

His mom had a book by Joyce Meyer called The Battlefield of the Mind that we read together and this verse encapsulated the book.

Basically, because of beliefs we have about ourselves, the world, others, we behave a certain way. It’s taken me many more years since then to actually truly accept this and believe it.

Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.

Ghandi

I always believed that my beliefs about myself and others are based on what I’ve seen in the past. While I still believe that, I now also believe that I should think about these things with hope for a positive outcome.

Whenever I’ve failed in the past, I’ve learnt how not to do something. I am learning each day to be a better version of myself. That’s true of most of us.

Sometimes when I’ve gone to job interviews or auditioned for something or done an exam, whenever I haven’t done as well as I hoped I would it’s because my nerves got in the way due to my beliefs.

We often become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

With that in mind, don’t put yourself or anyone else into a cage made out of labels and negative beliefs. Don’t let these beliefs stop you from reaching your goals, pursuing your dreams, from being happy and being the best version of yourself.

Of course, if someone is a dishonest person, treats you badly over and over, etc, this isn’t a call to overlook that or just keep taking it either.

We live in a world where justice is important, criminals need to be punished. Sometimes the people in our lives just aren’t willing to change their harmful behaviour, and you can’t control them but shouldn’t continue to allow them to drag you down or hurt or betray you constantly.

As much as you may believe that they can be better and reach their potential, which they absolutely can, that’s in their hands. If they look to be in no hurry to change, there is no shame in walking away.

We should hold each other and ourselves to high standards. But we should also have grace. We are all on our own journey.

Not all positive changes takes place overnight, in most cases we need to practice daily for years, forgive those who hurt us daily, and take months and even years to let go of guilt, anger, shame, etc.

Don’t try to hurt someone by slandering them and if someone does it to you, do your best to see the truth.

Because fact and opinion are often two different things.

Featured Image by pencil parker from Pixabay

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