Labels: Love Them or Let Them Go
Have you ever noticed that your thinking and behavior is shaped by who you believe yourself to be?
A lot of the decisions that you make, and the actions that you take, are a direct result of conforming to your idea of being a good daughter, valuable employee, generous person, etc. There's nothing inherently wrong with this and there's no way to escape it.
The truth is that we all use labels and roles to economically navigate our world. It becomes a problem when your responses are a consequence of habits and not choices. It diminishes what's possible when who you are comes from past experiences (whether your own or ones you've witnessed) and not the dynamic alivening essence that is the core of your being.
Who Am I
In spiritual circles the ‘Who Am I' inquiry leads you beyond your personality to the essence of your being. For many it takes decades to come to the answer. In this exercise we're looking to explore the labels that you've taken on – consciously or unconsciously – and determine which ones are still for you.
When you're done notice what roles, or labels, each one encompasses and jot those down.
Next, take another piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the top left write LOVE IT, on the top right LET IT GO. Notice how you feel about each role/label and write it down in the corresponding column.
Notice how that feels. This exercise alone can create tremendous clarity.
Once you've done this exercise you'll probably notice that there are plenty of labels, roles and characteristics that you have claimed as your own. I'll bet that a few are a source of pride and joy, some others not so much.
What if there's an expiration date on some roles? What if they served you once, but now they actually hold you back? There are clear indicators that can help you determine which ones are keepers, and which ones are not.
It's Time To Let Go of Your Labels
Labels aren't good or bad, just like most things in life. But, if they are a drain or make you feel bad about yourself it's time to reconsider.
Here are two signposts that will let you know right away that it's time to let go of that label:
- You feel stressed out and pressured. Are you the best grandma ever or what? You've committed to babysitting for your grandkids two days a week but you just can't get things done when they're around. It sets you behind on your tasks and responsibilities but you still try to do it all. Uh oh! Your best grandma ever moniker might be at risk. If your grandmother label is wearing you out it's time to redefine it.
- You feel tired and have no energy. Your house is Christmas Central and you're the best host ever! Your Christmas list is three pages long and you have no idea how it grew that big. You've missed all the sales because you couldn't bear the thought of the mad holiday crush. You go online and you haven't a clue how you'll make a serious dent in this task. And … you've committed to a 7-course menu for Christmas Eve dinner. Yes, you have. Ugh! You may have to forego the chorus of ‘Thank Yous' from friends and family this year. Maybe it's time to recreate your holiday ritual.
The truth is that with every action that you take, over and over, you reaffirm who you choose to be. It takes some exploration, and courage, but you can redefine yourself at any point in time. I'm sure you've done it before.
What labels are you ready to let go of? It's time, isn't it? Yes.
If you need some help with this exercise make sure to post to the Evolutionary Adventurers Facebook Group.