Removing Labels That Stick

I am reprinting today's whole Daily Om because I can identify so much with what is written. I have been labelled by my family as "slow" - for taking too long for everything, "backwards"- for not warming up to strangers immediately and not being more outgoing. These are only two of the labels that I was "stuck with" growing up, and I spent much of my life trying to prove them wrong.

Fortunately, my children can see the value of who they are, even if others try to throw labels at them. With the knowledge that every moment is new, every moment is an opportunity to change or develope in a new way, I have been very diligent about not labelling my children, not even in my thoughts. I know firsthand how limiting it is to believe that others' labels of you are true. I think part of this also came from my many years of working with children who were given labels by the school system. Once told, I would often forget the labels, literally. In my mind, the only purose those labels served was to allow me to work with these children. The labels told me nothing about who the children were, or how I could be of service to them.

Through the blessing of the children I worked with, and my own children, I have learned to see the positive in so many traits that others would view as negative. This is a gift I have only recently been able to give myself. I no longer fight the "slow" label, but relish the fact that my "slowness" allows me to be more reflective and more appreciative of my life than I would be if I tried to keep up with others. I also know that I have more deeply authentic relationships in my life because I do not allow superficial social interactions to dominate my time. If others believe I am backwards, or have no "social life", so be it. I am happy with my life, and I do not let others' labels to take that away from me.

Just like the saying goes, "Labels are for soup cans." (Sorry, I don't know who said that.)
Don't accept labels from ANYONE, especially loved ones. Discover for yourself the good in what others cannot see. :D

Daily Om

February 6, 2008 Turn It Around

Laboring Under A Label

We live in a culture that uses labels as a means of understanding the world and the people living in it. As a result, many of us find ourselves laboring under a label that has a negative connotation. Unless we can find a way to see the good in such a label, we may feel burdened by an idea of ourselves that is not accurate. It is important to remember that almost nothing in this world is all good or all bad, and most everything is a complex mixture of gifts and challenges. In addition, different cultures revere certain qualities over others, but this does not mean that these qualities are inherently good or bad. For example, a culture that elevates outgoing behavior will label an introvert in a negative way, calling them antisocial. In truth, the ability to spend time alone is one that most great artists, mystics, and visionaries share. Owning the positive side of this label can lead us deeper into our gifted visions and fertile imaginations.

When we look into the lives of any of the great people in history, we always find that they had quirks and eccentricities that earned them less than ideal labels from the societies in which they lived. Many famous artists and musicians were considered to be isolated loners or disruptive troublemakers, or sometimes both, yet these people altered history and contributed to the world an original vision or advances in our understanding of the universe. If we can remember this as we examine our own selves and the labels people use to describe us, we find that there is a bright side to any characterization.

If you have been labeled, remember that all you have to do to see the positive side is to turn the label around. For example, you may be considered to be overly emotional, and the fact that you are perceived this way may make you feel out of control. But notice, too, the gifts of being able to feel and express your emotions, even in a world that doesn’t always encourage that. You might begin to see yourself as brave and open-hearted enough to stay alive to your feelings. You may also see that there are certain paths and professions in which this is a necessary ability. As you turn your label around, the light of your true nature shines to guide you on your way .

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Stephanie said...

Wow! That is a great post, thank you :)

I hate labels too, some serve a purpose, like *unschooler* to find others who are doing what you do but when you label in the negative or because of personalities it's not good.

Like everything is a *disorder* these days. No people are just different so the ones who don't fit the little molded box have disorders, sheesh.

ps pirro said...

I love this post! Especially:

"The labels told me nothing about who the children were, or how I could be of service to them."

What a great perspective. Thanks for sharing it.