Throughout history people have used labels to cause pain, gain control, and diminish the inner strength of others. Society has made attempts to diminish the negativity surrounding the habit of boxing everyone and everything, but it is in the process of categorizing that people understand their world. Researchers suggest the harm in labels is it influences what we see, as the brain will make connections heard more quickly then with other senses. The key to taking back the power believed to be lost by labels is to change the conversation. Define yourself on your own terms and find the positive attributes in the way you are perceived.
As I get older and come to realize my strengths and weaknesses, I am finding that the hurt feelings associated with certain labels does not have to control us. We have the ability to relieve the pain, take back control, and boost our well-being with the help of labels. When I am placed in a category with a negative connotation, after taking a moment to be upset, I look for possible positive attributes. Then I consider the many who are also put under the same grouping, and find fortitude in that vast number.
The top 4 labels I commonly hear applied to people include:
1) Gender – Either male or female there are qualities that reside within typical of the sex you identify with, and finding the beauty in those attributes gives you power. Men are not stronger, and women are not more sensitive. It is the person and situation that make these determinations.
2) Race/Ethnicity – Whether it be the color of skin or features commonly connected to a particular ethnic group, take pride in your appearance and culture. I particularly feel a sense of pride when I correct an assumption about my background. Knowing where your lineage derives and all that they have achieved and endured gives you power.
3) Career – The position an individual holds in a company can carry more weight than it should, however, various skills are specific to every job. When your significance comes into question, recognize those abilities that set you apart and make you an important part of an organization. Knowing your worth gives you power.
4) Economic Status – Money will not buy you happiness, yet in many cases those who are wealthy are assumed to be the happiest. But we read and listen about the drama in the lives of the rich and famous, so the previous statement can’t be true. And, although living paycheck to paycheck is a struggle most dream of alleviating (can I get an Amen), there is much to be said about the character of an individual who provides for their family by any (legal and moral) means possible. Fact of the matter is both sides of the spectrum can list benefits and drawbacks to their situation, it is up to the individual to work on focusing on the pros. Finding joy in the little things gives you power.
Taking back the control to categorize ourselves is one of many life challenges. It takes time, consistent practice, and the understanding that labels change depending on circumstances. I have begun the practice of selecting labels for the day. Today, I am happy, successful, a mom, wife (which both are daily labels), a friend, and a coworker. Each come with their set of issues, but it is what I learn from each role and positive instances that make them labels worth using to describe me.
What labels are you sporting today, Resolifers? Love to hear from you. Follow me on Instagram @reso_life, Twitter @Life_reso and Google+ @ResoLife