When labels become limitations


I'm not a fan of labels. Literally and metaphorically speaking. I'd be hard pushed to tell you what brand of trainers I wear, or what make my kettle or iron is. To me they serve a purpose, and so long as they do it well, I don't care what names they goes by. The same logic applies to individuals.

Over time we attribute labels to ourselves based on what we do for a living, our current abilities and the perception we and others have of who we are.  These labels can colour our self-esteem and become our limitations.

Before you know it, you've begun to define yourself by the things you do. "I'm the COO at XYZ company", or "I'm the mother of two children".  What happens when you stop working there or when your children leave home and don't need you as much any more?  

Or when people create a badge out of a negative experience.  "I'm terrible at Maths", or "I'm an introvert", or my favourite, "I hate selling!".  Could it be that you had a bad teacher, or were in a crowd that made you wish you were somewhere else, or that you didn't believe in the things you were selling?

In extreme cases, where there's been shame or trauma, these labels become the voices in your head telling you you're not good enough, not clever enough, unloveable, or worse. These labels stop you from having a loving relationship with the most important person in your life. You.  

One of the most misunderstood, and potentially misleading pieces of advice you'll hear is the one that tells you to "be yourself" and "don't change". This is the kind of heartwarming nonsense that goes into soppy hit songs but doesn't make sense in reality.

Who you are will change depending on where you are, who's with you and what's happening around you and to you.  You are not defined by what you do, and what you do will change over your lifetime.  

I wear different personas when I'm being a mum, when I'm working with my clients as a coach, when I'm at a social event with friends, when I'm teaching my hoop-fitness class at my local leisure centre, and so on. They're all still ME. 

Each persona has its specific place and purpose, and co-exists with the others.

You can create any number of personas. You can be anyone you want to be. You have the power to reinvent yourself. Evolution happens, whether or not we believe in it. It's ridiculous to tell someone not to change. 

Change is inevitable, natural and beautiful, even in its more destructive form.  Change may come slowly or might be thrust upon us out of nowhere.  The best way to be prepared for change is to become aware of it, and to create it in our own lives. 

Don't let those labels become rooms in which you trap yourself. There is beautiful world out there waiting for you to explore.  

Banish the labels that limit you. Explore what's possible for you.