Stop Labelling Yourself!

Labelling People and Yourself

What do I mean by labels? I’m a mother, I’m a parent, I’m a vegan, I’m paleo, I’m a Christian, I’m a coach, I’m a salesman.

There are countless labels, and often when we meet someone new we start by trying to label them.

“What do you do?”

“I’m an accountant”

Why are labels bad then? Well, they’re not really bad, it’s just they can be limiting. If you are a stay at home mum for the last few years and you start identifying yourself with being “a mum”, so neglect to acknowledge everything else that you are.

Labels create division and division can lead to conflict and then more. I don’t want to get political or religious here but isn’t that what happens globally. You’re “this label” and I’m “that label” that means we’re different. We focus on the differences rather than on the similarities. That creates a chasm.

It’s the same a work. He’s the CEO and I’m an admin assistant. Whereas in a different setting – you both volunteer for the Red Cross (for example) and you’re the team leader and his ‘just’ a team member. Do the labels we give each other determine how we interact with that person? How we view ourselves?

You bet they do?

The other issue with labels and identifying yourself with them, is that they become difficult to shift. Label yourself as a vegan (for example), maybe you even start blogging about it, call yourself or something and then 5, 10 years down the line, you have a profitable business but recognise that a bit of meat now and then could be a good thing for you personally.

What happens to your brand? Your business? But more importantly your identity. If you label yourself as ‘depressed’ or ‘with that disease, or this disease’, does that help you? I’m not saying not to acknowledge it’s there. But it’s just a part of you, or rather something that you have (from time to time, or ongoing even), but it’s not YOU. You are so much more than the condition you might be experiencing.

I know that we need labels to some extent to distinguish between things. That’s a ‘beer’ and that’s a ’coke’.

But when it comes to ourselves, just recognise that we’re so much more than any one (or ten) labels can express. Understand that by labelling others you are either looking to create a bond (we’re both entrepreneurs) or by accident, creating gaps (he’s a policeman and I’m an activist).

In reality we all have far more in common, than in opposition.

When we acknowledge that, it can help build bridges. And when we are free to change or adopt multiple ‘labels’, we aren’t pigeon-holed into something we’re not.

And then we are free to change and to grow.

What do you think?