The Habit of Labeling

Published On: April 2, 2019

What is labeling? Labeling is attaching a name or an attribute to a person or a thing. Do you remember your school days where you put labels on your notebooks – English, Math, Physics or Geography? Once the labeling was done, you probably never changed it ever again. Labeling made categorization easier and managing notebooks was a piece of cake. You didn’t need to open each notebook to find out what subject it contained.

Labeling is fine when it is done to objects. But when it comes to humans, it is a great mistake. How many times have you put labels on people, like “She’s selfish”, “He’s always rude” or “She’s so vain” AND confined your thoughts about them within those labels? And that’s not all. You put labels on yourself, too. You define yourself, your thoughts, and your actions based on the labels you stick to yourself. For instance, “I am not a good cook” or “I have the best fashion sense”. These labels are not always judgmental; they can be as basic as “I am a mother”, “I am a wife” or “I am a daughter”. You’d think, ‘Duh! These are facts.’ Of course they are facts, but the influence they have on the way you look at life is tremendous.

When you label yourself as a “mother”, you are actually limiting yourself to this single label. Your thoughts, decisions and actions revolve around the label of “mother” you put on yourself. Sometimes, you even give up on other roles like “wife” or an “employee” for the sake of the single label of “mother”. It is a great thing that you are fulfilling your duty as a parent, but the fact remains that your mindset is limited. When you limit your mindset to a particular label, you fail to live a life outside it.

You generally label yourself based on your relationships with others. You are a daughter, a wife, a mother, and a sister, and you willingly cater to the all the responsibilities that come with those relations. However, there is a tiny flaw in this kind of thinking. While you are busy living up to the labels you put on yourself, you forget the fact that you are a human being who does not need to get bound with any labels whatsoever. No, this does not mean you will completely cease to do what you are doing. It just means that you live your life in a more meaningful way, with an open mind. When you stop labeling yourself, you are not just good to others, but you are kind to your own self. You broaden your perspective. For instance, with if you stick all those labels to yourself, you would struggle a lot to fit in each label and prove it apt. On the other hand, once you free yourself from the labels and gain more perspective, you would take decisions based on what is right in general.

For instance you have a one year old child, and you, being a mommy at heart, might want to stay with your little one and take care of it 24/7. However, if you take the label of “mother” off yourself and look at the same situation, you would think about you and your family as a whole, and not just about your child. If you continue with your job, you would be channeling your career, earning some extra bucks for you and your entire family, and at the same time, your little one would be learning to be independent at a young age as you won’t always be with him or her. Did you see the difference between the two perspectives?

We spend our entire lives in labeling ourselves and fitting in those labels, without even realizing it.  Here onwards, we must tear off all the labels, open our minds to other prospects, and try to look at the bigger picture.

You may also want to read other articles written by the same author:  ‘Fun alternatives for ladies on career break‘,  ‘Bridging the gap using online resources‘, ‘Stress: Lets deal with it‘, ‘No Matter what the world says, It is ok to… live your life‘, ‘A little guide to positivity‘ ‘Ways to Selfmotivation- Your key to success’, ‘Why you need to prioritise yourself’, ‘Challenges after a career break and their solutions‘, ‘Home Business Ideas for Women’  .

About the author:

“Radhika works as a visiting lecturer at the University of Mumbai. She completed her B.A. and  M.A (Gold medal) in Sanskrit from the Mumbai University. She has a passion for languages especially English, Sanskrit, and German and has written articles on Upanishads. She provides content development services. She likes teaching and writing. Her hobbies include reading and listening to music.”

(The author is a guest blogger at Her Second Innings. The opinions expressed are those of the author.)

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