Loser. Bad Parent. Addict. Cheater. Drunk. Pervert. Stupid. Incapable. Poser.
We are good at labels. We can generate a vast array of them. From mundane to outright cruel (how cruel? Ponder this: some of the labels we create for ourselves are labels we would never think of attaching to others…am I right?).
And we wear these labels everywhere we go.
Oh, we certainly don’t wear them on the outside. Truth is, we often don’t even recognize them on the inside. Most of us have layers upon layers of labels, constructed in such a way as to hide them from even ourselves. Our clever inner voices create one label, and then create another one to throw ourselves off of the scent of the first one. Then we need another label to cover for the second. And a fourth to compensate for the third, which is covering for the second, which you’ll recall is a red herring defense mechanism against the first.
Wow, that is exhausting just writing it down. But that’s how our psyche’s work. So we find ourselves carrying labels nested so deeply we can’t even see the bottom. Some of them we recognize, and maybe do something about, but more likely dismiss as commonplace or unchangeable. Some of them we don’t see at all. But all of them affect how we relate, interact, and live our lives.
And all the while, we are carefully covering the whole lot of them so no one on the outside can see what we think about ourselves on the inside. Because if they saw that, it would be game over.
Serious business, these things called labels. Label-making is the Enemy’s favorite endeavor, I think. It’s the most effective one, because he can get us at the very core of our being and undermine everything we do.
But the labels we carry are often exaggerations, if not outright lies. They are our views of self, and often deep down we are much harder on ourselves than we should be. We should expect a lot of ourselves, but there is a difference between expecting much of ourselves and being overly harsh on ourselves.
- We should expect to present ourselves well in a meeting, but that doesn’t mean we should kick ourselves for every verbal slip-up we make.
- We should always put our best foot forward in everything we do, but that doesn’t mean we dismiss ourselves as failures when we realize we could have done or said something differently.
- We should expect a life of purity from ourselves, but that doesn’t mean we should condemn ourselves for every errant thought that slips in (remember temptation does not equal transgression).
The other danger of labels is they are self-fulfilling prophecies. Remember the Temptation Does Not Equal Transgression blog post? When you allow the thing that tempts you to become that which defines you, you’re on the road to living a life of enslavement and defeat.
So, be careful of labels. Take the time to stop and identify them when they bubble up. And don’t allow them to get – or keep – a foothold. Freedom from labels is within your grasp.