We’ve all had to face labels in our lives, whether self-imposed to placed on us by others.
The feeling that we all have when we accomplish something that people said or thought was impossible is more gratifying than any material thing we could reward ourselves with. Accomplishment is the best gift you can offer yourself.
That comes with knowing and accepting who you truly are and what you are capable of, no matter what people on the outside may think about you.
And I had to fight-hard-to define myself, whether it was in physical therapy, questioning doctors, or ignoring when friends’ parents thought about my capabilities. Sure I was labeled “different” and “fragile,” like I could break my or something, which couldn’t have been further from the truth. Nothing about me was-or is-broken. They were the ones who were broken, not me.
The same is true for you!
You may not have had to say to yourself, “To walk or not to walk, that is the question” at the age of five. But, I would bet my crutches that at some point in your life, perhaps even frequently, you’ve felt assessed, judged, misunderstood, or labeled.
Unfortunately, it’s unavoidable.
I can talk to psychologists and sociologists who could give me a gazillion reasons why humans do this to each other. Is it a defense mechanism? Is it a response from feeling threatened? Is it projecting or self-hatred? Do we just not have time to get to know anyone anymore, so labels provide a quick inventory on who is out there and whether they fit into our life? And the list goes on.
We don’t have the time or resources to determine the answers right now, and we certainly can’t stop the label game in its tracks. So, I say we become proactive instead of reactive.
First, acknowledge that labels are a sad fact of life. Second, know there are things we can do about them, such as:
- If someone puts a label on you, consider that they are doing so to combat their own insecurities.
- Sometimes a label is actually an asset, as it may allow you to stand out in a crowd and let you shine. It’s all about how you work the label.
- Two wrongs don’t make a right. If you are labeled, avoid labeling back. You will just become petty and ignorant like the labeler. Take the high road.
- Consider the source. Who is doing the labeling? Is it someone you need respect from? Have you just met the person? You ultimately know who understands you in life. And likely those people have either been in your life a long time or they actually contribute something of value to your existence. Anyone who puts a label on you will be in and out of your life in a flash. So, give as much of a flash of time’s notice of it.
- Be stoic and laugh it off. Sometimes laughing with people when they make an assumption or remark about you will catch them off guard and disarm them. It’s fun to watch.
Don’t ever buy into labels. Look, it’s definitely easier to believe the bad stuff. And if you hear the same thing enough times, you can start to believe it.
This is why it’s very important to truly know who you are.
Once you do, nobody can redefine you from the outside. That’s the greatest modus operandi of all.
Stay In Touch!
LinkedIn: Lauren Ruotolo
Or Contact Lauren directly right here.