I hate labels. I hate it when someone looks at me (or anyone else) and makes that snap decision of who I am. They think they know all about me from a first glance.
Remember what it was like in high school? For some of you (like me) that can be a bit of a long stretch. Everyone had a label. Jock, Nerd, Party Girl, Geek, Brain, Teachers Pet and a bunch of other nonsense.
There are a lot of labels that I wear proudly. Dad, Gramps, Husband, Son, Brother, Christian, Entertainer, Ventriloquist, Friend, Mentor and Weight Loss Warrior are just a few.
However, some people look at me and all they see is a fat guy. They have no idea that I have lost 180 pounds on the journey. They just see how far I have to go yet. They assume I am lazy, that I over eat and that I don’t care. I am probably dirty and stupid too, as fat people often get labelled that as well.
I want to share a little story with you. When my kids were little, we were at a local mall. It came around to lunch time, so I said to my wife “You take the kids and get a table while I get lunch.”
I went to the counter of one of the fast food places I frequented in the day, and order our meal. As I am walking back to our table, I overheard this table of young girls giggling and one of them spoke up and said “No wonder he’s fat. Look at the lunch he has.” Right. 4 burgers, 4 fries and 4 drinks were all for me. As I have said before, fat is the last acceptable prejudice. Would she have said that about my race or religion (if that was apparent)? No, but slap on the fat label and it’s ok.
You know where the most insidious labels come from? They come from us! It comes from that negative self talk we inflict on ourselves. We are often the first to label ourselves as loser, fat, lazy and other crap that we KNOW is not true, but we have said it so many times to ourselves or have heard it from others.
Have you ever tried to soak a label off a jar? You know some of those suckers just don’t want to come off. They take a lot of scrubbing. Well so do our labels. Sometimes they require the help of friends or family. I have asked my wife to help me with my self imposed labels. I have given her full permission to draw it to my attention when I label myself in a negative way. Sometimes I don’t want to hear it because sometimes I get that mindset that I deserve those labels. Well, I don’t and neither do you.
There is a very popular song right now by Taylor Swift called Shake It Off. It came from a period where people couldn’t resist slapping labels on her about her relationships and any number of other things that were frankly no one’s business but her.
I found a quote from her about the whole subject of labeling. She said I leave the genre labeling to other people. I really do. If I were to think too hard about it, that would stifle you creatively. If you think too hard about who other people want you to be as an artist, it stops you from being who you want to be as an artist.
Not only do other people labels limit creativity, but they limit who we are, and who we could be. If we buy into them, we give ourselves the excuse to quit, to stop trying, and to stop reaching.
Start today and take those labels off. Scrub them off and say that is NOT who I am. Don’t accept delivery of any more negative labels from anyone including from yourself.
If you are going to wear a label, look at the labels that make you proud. What are they? I don’t know, but it could be Wife, Mother, Father, Husband, Great Dancer, Getting Healthier, Good Cook, Healthy Eater or anything that makes you feel good about you.
Ask your friends for a label. This could be risky but tell them you are trying to replace negative labels you have worn for a long time with new positive labels. Ask them for a word that they would use to describe you. You might be amazed at how others see you.
You may have heard this story before, but I am going to rephrase it a bit to explain what I am trying to say. There once was a little boy who had a bad habit of calling himself names. It could be because he couldn’t do something he thought he should be able to do, it could be when he did something a bit klutzy, he just kept labeling himself as stupid or clumsy and other stuff. It hurt his mother to hear him talk like that about himself that way, so she said she had something she wanted him to do.
She told him for 7 days every time he wanted to call himself a name, he should hammer a nail in their wooden fence. He thought it weird but did it. The the next week she said each time he said something positive, he could remove one. At the end of the week, he had pulled them all out.
She said ,”That’s good but look at all the holes”, and reminded him that even though he was now saying positive things to himself, there was still some damage left over from the negative thoughts and words.
The moral – don’t leave holes in your spirit from your negative labels.
Until next time, have a healthy and happy day!