I know, everyone wants to believe they can’t be put into one label or another, but unfortunately, this is more true than we think. Do you live your label?
Yes, I’m sure we would all be quick to say, “no, I don’t live my label” but if you’re honest with yourself, you might see it differently. It may not be as it appears to you.
When I say “do you live your label?” I mean the labels that we put on ourselves or the ones we allow society to put on us. Let’s list some of those labels.
Labels We Might Wear
- I’m an anxiety sufferer.
- I have mental health illness.
- Depression is what I suffer from in my life.
- My diagnosis is cPain which stands for chronic pain.
- The doctors say I have cPTSD or chronic PTSD.
- I have Conversion Disorder.
- I have this pain or that pain.
- Insert whatever condition you have.
- I’m a liberal, or I’m a conservative.
- A Christian or an atheist.
- A vegetarian or vegan
- Winner or Loser
- Lucky or unlucky
- Rich or poor
- Smart or dumb
- Survivor or victim
- Aware or conscious
- A sex addict
We put many labels on ourselves and sometimes when we do, we live up to or down to those labels. Those labels, if we are not careful, become how we view ourselves and what actions we do to live up to them. It is often an unconscious thing we do, but if you look hard at yourself and other people, you’ll see it clearly.
My Personal Lesson On Labels
I remember when I was struggling with some issues in my life. I was healing through being sexually abused as a child. One of the things I struggled with was going to adult porn establishments. It was a major battle for me. Every time I would tell myself repeatedly that I was not going to go in these places. It became my mantra, and I would say it up until the minute I walked in the door. I hated myself for a long time over this.
It is interesting to note that it felt like an addiction to me. No matter what I did or said or thought and wanted to do, I felt powerless to what happened. It was like some over-compelling force dragging me into these places. I did not want to go here. I fought it for a long time. Finally, I did overcome this, but one of the things that stood out to me was something a therapist said to me.
When I finally got the courage to share this ugly secret to her, I labeled myself as a sex addict. She quickly corrected me and said, oh no – that label does not fit you. She went on to explain that if I started using that label, I would try to live up to it and would cause myself more difficulty than I wanted. It would make it much more difficult for me to get past this issue. She was right. I’m so thankful she taught me that lesson about labeling ourselves. All too often we do it unconsciously, and our mind and body and nervous system work to live up to the definition of that label.
The Body Keeps The Score
In Dr. Bessle Van Der Kolk’s book, The Body Keeps The Score, he discusses how labels came about in the medical world. For providers to bill insurance companies, they needed “billing codes,” and the billing codes became the labels. So now, instead of us just working through our issues, we have this label that we are treated for and in many ways, it is not helpful. Yes, it can be good to know what it is, but much more than that and we doom ourselves to further suffering and illness.
If I ask you again, do you live your label, you would most likely get irate at me and say of course I don’t. However, I continue to see profiles on social media that have a whole list of labels attached to them. It is like they have become a badge of honor. I get that. I understand the need to have the label, but it often becomes a detriment to your health and healing.
Do You Live Your Label?
Do you live your label? You’re the only one who can say yes or no. No one can tell you this because you have to discover it for yourself. However, I can unequivocally share the advice of my therapist: don’t label yourself.
Let the labels go. They are not helpful to your long-term healing because they put limits on what you see as possible. At one time, I didn’t think healing from certain conditions I faced in life was possible. My beliefs and what society or our culture pushes put limits on what could happen. If I labeled my conditions, they kept me in the mindset that this was normal and all that was possible.
If I stepped outside of the labels, it was then that I could see more potential. It allowed me to travel into the unknown and heal further than I thought I could go. We all want to believe we are doing that, but unconsciously we are holding ourselves back from the potential we have to overcome that which we feel we cannot.
Remember – labels are for products, not people.
I’ll leave you with the question, Do you live your label?
- How Labels Limit Us (Psychology Today)