Labels. What do they mean to you? No, I’m not talking about nutrition labels on food or about designer labels. I’m talking about those labels that are meant to define us. Labels that say Fat, Thin, Rich… or Doctor, Writer, Designer, Lawyer, or Teacher. Or labels that say Successful, Mean, Fun, Crazy, or Independent.
I think people could justify labeling me if they saw a pattern in what I do, but right now that’s impossible. – Skeet Ulrich
Most people don’t like to be labeled by others, because they generally tend to hone in on just one aspect. Nobody likes to be put in a box – I know I don’t. There’s so much more to me than a one-dimensional description.
The quickest way to find out how you label yourself is to notice your response when someone asks, “What do you do?” or “Who are you?”
You know that you live a full life if it is hard to explain who you are in a sentence or two. Like me, you probably do many different things, all of them extremely meaningful to yourself and you should certainly refuse to minimize who you are in order to make it easier for the person you speak to to categorize you into the correct box.
Most difficult is the labeling by other people that models are empty-headed bodies. I think if you look for negativity, you can find it anywhere. – Boyd Holbrook
However, we have to, because the human brain likes pattern recognition. They search for ways in which to categorize things, experiences and people. No matter what you do, people will categorize you and that’s why it is so important for you to label yourself, before a generic label is slapped on your forehead by people who hardly know you. Those labels are often light-years away from who you really are.
Labels can hurt, so it’s vital that you label yourself before anyone else does. You just have to.
Again, you probably won’t fit perfectly in a certain category, because there’s just so much more to you than what any box can hold. That’s why you need to choose the box that best suits you at your best. Even if the box leaves out most of who you are, it is better than being labeled “I don’t know.”
While labels suck for the most part, there is one small benefit:
When people know who you are (even some of who you are), they can help connect you with others that are like you, thus building the dream or whatever the heck you’re doing with your life. If they can label you, you can be at the top of their minds.
Dr. Phil offers the following tips for you to find your label:
- Step 1: Write down all the labels that apply to you
Write down all the labels that you have ever identified with in your life (as far as you can recall).
- Step 2: Track their origins
Who labeled you as such? What made them stick? Identify where each label came from and write it down next to it.
- Step 3: Find what works
Now go through all these labels and look at how you live your life. Are you living these labels? Which labels work for you? If they don’t deliver positive pay-offs, then it is time to let them go.
Remember to always choose the best feeling thought in the moment. The same applies to labels. Choose whatever label works for you, as that will ensure that when people box you, they are helping your life path.