Labels are everywhere. We use them on ourselves and on others.
But the truth is labels can be very damaging to our ability to believe in ourselves. They are often limiting and stop us from living our best life.
We need to stop letting labels define us.
One of the biggest problems with labels is that they define people by their circumstances, not by who they actually are.
Of all the people in my life, my mom is the greatest example to me of not letting herself be defined by her circumstances.
My mother had a very humble upbringing in a very conservative culture.
Still, my mother became a doctor at a time when the world wasn’t really accepting of that.
If my mother had listened to the labels she was given, she would have never been able to accomplish all she did.
She did some pretty incredible things as a doctor because she wouldn’t let the world define her.
Some may have seen my mother as a poor coal miner’s daughter, but she was so much more.
And it was her own belief in herself that allowed her to ignore the labels and push through every obstacle that came her way.
As individuals, it’s important that we stop letting the labels define us, too.
We are each unique.
Who cares what your circumstances are, where you were born, your gender, how you grew up, or even how much money is in your bank account?
You are not defined by those things. We need to stop defining ourselves by our own circumstances and stop allowing others to do the same.
We are each unique. And we have the ability within us to move beyond the labels we’re given and become who we want to become.
One of the most valuable things I’ve learned from my mother’s experience is to never let the labels people give me define who I am, especially as a woman.
I am in charge of my own mindset, and I get to decide what I will choose to believe.
Change begins with our mindset.
Our mindset—or how we view the world—is an important part of who we are.
It includes all of the attitudes, beliefs, and thoughts that shape our way of thinking.
We naturally use these attitudes, thoughts, and beliefs to interpret the world around us.
Our beliefs and attitudes can be either positive or negative and can have a significant impact on how we perceive ourselves and others.
If we truly want to overcome the negative effects of labeling, we have to let go of the labels people give us. And we especially have to let go of the labels we give ourselves.
We also have to check ourselves and make sure we’re not labeling the people around us.
We can do this by examining our own beliefs and attitudes to identify any biases or negative thought patterns that may be contributing to the labels we give and the labels we keep.
This can help us to become more aware of how we are using labels in our lives.
Our mindset and how we see the world is such an important part of learning to overcome our tendency to both give labels and allow labels to define us.
If we can change how we view ourselves and others, it really can change our world.
Change comes when we stop giving labels power.
Changing how we see things isn’t always easy. And it certainly won’t happen overnight. But the more we work on it, the easier it will become.
Once we stop giving labels the power to define us and those around us, we give ourselves and others the freedom to be who we are.
You are who you are, and you don’t ever have to change that fundamental truth, nor should you try.
You are you!
But what we can do is we can see ourselves differently—without the labels.
Here are some strategies that can be helpful in learning how to see ourselves and others differently.
Mindfulness is about focusing on the present moment and observing your thoughts without judgment.
This can help you become more aware of your thought patterns. You can also identify any negative or biased thinking you may have toward yourself or others.
Once you identify any biases you may have, you can then address each one.
By recognizing our biases, we can work to overcome them by becoming informed and practicing compassion.
Challenge negative thoughts.
When we catch ourselves using labels to define ourselves or others, we can challenge those thoughts by asking ourselves if they are based on accurate information.
Oftentimes, our thoughts are influenced by biases or stereotypes that are simply not true or terribly skewed.
We can also recognize that even if a label were true (my mother was a woman in a man’s world), those labels will never define who we truly are.
We are so much more than our circumstances.
Utilize the power of affirmations.
One of the greatest affirmations we can use is the same one my mother used, “Yes, I can!”
You can do anything—especially if you believe you can.
I use affirmations on a daily basis to remind me of who I truly am and to help me remember my own strength and abilities beyond the labels people give me.
Affirmations give us the mindset to see the good—something we should be doing for ourselves and for others.
Drop the labels and believe in yourself.
By engaging in these strategies and working to shift our mindset, we can become more aware of our biases. We can also work to eliminate negative labels and promote greater empathy and understanding towards ourselves and others.
No matter what our circumstances are, our mindset can help us move beyond the labels.
When we stop giving power to the labels, they no longer affect us.
In the end, our ability to overcome the labels we’re given is directly associated with our mindset and our ability to believe in ourselves.
When we believe in ourselves, as my mother did, we will have the ability to move forward despite the circumstances we find ourselves in or the things people say about us.
In today’s world, people are going to give you labels.
But it’s your choice to stop giving power to the labels and to stop perpetuating negative labels onto others.
Overall, labels will come—but it’s up to us whether or not we allow them to stick.