How Labeling Ourselves & Others Actually Cripples Us
Many of us find comfort in labeling the world around us. It’s a tool I’ve frequently relied upon. But lately, I’ve noticed I’m labeling more, noting differences—whether subtle or substantial—between myself and others. Becoming conscious of this behavior is causing me to ask myself a lot of questions.
Am I noting and labeling in hopes of making sense of today’s uncertain environment?
Classifying people, events, feelings, and even ourselves can provide a sense of momentary comfort in a world that’s quite unsettling. Because it’s increasingly difficult to know the rules—what we should or shouldn’t do—we may try to arrange “life’s gameboard” in a fashion that makes sense to us, labeling everything in clear terms. But I’m realizing this behavior can be harmful as we run the risk of limiting how we view our environment, those around us, and ourselves.
Whenever I label, I attach an image to what I think should be. And because I’m apt to use personal experiences to identify then categorize, my narrow perceptions may not capture actual reality, fooling me into thinking my thoughts are fact. I am right and they are wrong.
Think of it as having tunnel vision—what we take in regarding our surroundings is often influenced by our background and beliefs. If we cannot imagine another way, we are unable to see the infinite possibilities. This limited perspective impacts how we perceive ourselves and what we believe we’re capable of doing and/or becoming. Whenever I self-label, I stay small, safely bubble-wrapped in my comfort zone. I fail to imagine what I could become if I’d stop believing my limited stories and viewpoints. Of course, this also applies to my perception of others and as well as my environment. If I remain stuck in what I think something should be, I find myself reluctant to see what could be.
One could argue that labeling is merely judging then neatly describing our observation—kind, arrogant, conservative, liberal, selfish, generous, uninformed, wise, graceful, racist, extremist, and the list goes on. This behavior may appear to simplify our lives, helping us define who and what we want in “our circle.” But it can also be quite harmful, as many times our judgments are inaccurate.
Imagine the damage labeling can cause. Characterizing something or someone pigeon-holes how we expect the narrative to go. This is the type of thinking that causes me to make assumptions—most likely inaccurate ones—often resulting in frustration, hurt feelings, anger, or blame. If I show up filled with labels and judgment, my energetic field drops, and I am unable to see people, situations, or myself in a brighter light. No doubt this only attracts more low-vibrational interactions and events, resulting in a downward spiral.
But what if I were to adopt a different strategy? If I could realize labeling leads to more harm than good, might I shift the energy? Would I be able to see others, the world, or even myself at a higher level?
I’ve come to accept that every time I label, I create a limitation. Whether I attach it to our world, a stranger, a friend, or myself, defining something or someone in a rigid manner keeps that individual or thing where they are, preventing growth into something bigger, brighter, more beautiful.
So how do I stop labeling?
The alternative to labeling
If I want to change a habit, I must first own it. Recognition, without judgment, is key. Only then can I acknowledge what I’m doing. Next, I catch myself in the act. But there’s more. For a shift to occur, I must replace one habit with another, repeatedly altering my pattern. Perhaps I stop labeling and instead become curious. “I wonder why this person ______________.” Or maybe my inner dialogue sounds like, “From my perspective, it seems as though ______________. Could there be more to it?” This process doesn’t mean that my beliefs must change. Its purpose is to grant me an elevated view of the situation, one that vibrates at a higher frequency.
What if we knew no limits and instead looked at today’s uncertain environment as an opportunity for elevation?
Only when we leave our limited mind can we expand our thought processes, integrating unimagined scenarios. Doing so broadens our perspectives and helps us judge less, label less, and limit less, leading us to a path of becoming limitless.
Adopting a limitless attitude prompts internal growth. In essence, when we stop labeling the world around us, we’re more prone to examine our belief systems. Shifts happen, opinions soften, and suddenly, our view is not the only way. We begin to see the integral connections we share with those around us, even those who are different from us. Instead of categorizing people as one-dimensional beings, we witness both their breadth as well as the oneness between us which cannot be denied once we lift the veil that’s been darkening our vision.
While I continue to struggle with labeling, I am becoming more aware of when I fall into that mode. Unless I start accepting others regardless of their beliefs or how they interpret me and my opinions, I will remain small, stagnant, and stuck. I know this is difficult, especially now, in a world where divisive strategies are employed to make us fearful of one another, especially those with differing viewpoints. Yet, I will try to do my best and give myself grace in the process.
A limitless mindset
Adopting a limitless mindset permits us to see beyond our own experiences and welcome the new opportunities our ever-changing world presents. This is how we become limitless, elevate into our higher selves, and open our hearts to those around us.
Discovering this love within allows us to realize it in another. When we release the need to judge and label, we rise above our egos and witness each other from a higher perspective, one closer to where the Divine exists. It’s through this elevation that we behold the beauty in all, and suddenly our world becomes limitless.
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