Menu of Mirrors – Labels

From the moment we’re born people place a label on us:  cute baby, darling little girl/boy, etc. and then when we hit the business world we even put a label on our business cards:  Director, Manager, C-Level, Entrepreneur, Vice President…the list goes on.

We will always be labeled and yet, some negative labels stick and they keep us from our life goals.  You will always be a human, friend, cousin, spouse, sibling, only child, employee/er, or single/married/divorced/separated/dating… you choose.  Some negative labels are a reflection of someone else’s truth that’s not necessarily our truth:  mediocre, slow, stupid, insensitive, pain-in-the-neck, slacker…how many labels can you answer to?  If we run those negative tapes over and over and over we may finally believe them.

Look at yourself and decide which labels you know to be you and work to live up to those high standards.  Several movies, based on true stories, take us on the journey of  “worthless and dead-end” students whom a teacher appreciated, reinforced  and supported  and believed in; therefore, giving the students hope, incentive and positive reinforcement.  The result?  Amazing and joyous success.

When I was overweight, I’m certain that some people labeled me “fat.”  It took me a year to get “thin,” and now only I can keep that “fat” label in my head.  I need to get it out, kill it, bury it and let it go.  Our thoughts move moutains or keep us in a hole. Who calls you something that you know isn’t true?  How many times has a  bully – a label, I know – sibling or someone else called you something that hurts?  Have you ever labeled someone with a name that sticks and hurts?

We don’t know how our words and labels affect people, nor how others’ words will stay with us for who knows how long.  We put labels on packages to identify the contents and/or to send the package.   The grocery stores have 100,000’s of labeled items to help us know what we buy and what’s inside; this isn’t true of humans.  Do you actually know what’s inside the thoughts, feelings and ideas of someone else?  No.  Snap judgments label people: ignorant, stupid, loud, careless…again, the adjectives pile up.  Have you ever been wrong about someone you labeled incorrectly?  I have. 

When people support us, approve of our behavior, give us positive feedback, like us, promote us and feed into our positive images of ourselves, then our self-confidence soars and stays.  It’s not ego, it’s a healthy look at reality. (A few individuals believe in their ego and that’s trouble.)

After a training I get feedback forms from 100’s of people who don’t know me, they’ve just seen me for a few hours, but they couple me in a 1-6 category and a comment about their impression of me as a trainer/speaker.  Some comments are uplifting and supportive, others put me in a you-need-to-change-careers category.  If 120 people attend my workshop and 117 of them give me positive feedback, but three strangers give me not-so-complimentary feedback, I’ll focus on those three.  Amazing human behavior.  It took me years not to let those “three” ruin my goal of working to become an exceptional trainer.  Do you let others’ feedback and comments hold you back?  Are you giving them too much power?

A supervisor, parents, best friends and intimate support group are your best mirrors when you know they speak from the heart.  They may give you information that you don’t want to hear, but need to hear.  “Hold your temper.”  “Be respectful.” “Mind your moods.” Understand that that label comes from love and is a helpful suggestion; helping you to change for the better.

As a writer with an editor, I have to let go of  “my words” because  editors make my message more readable, organized and successful.  It’s tough.  I pay her too!  We need to get feedback, and we also need to appreciate the source and then take responsibility for our own course of action with the information given.

Labels: A patchwork quilt of human frailty and strength, personality, character, looks, intelligence and activity.   These labels mirror much of our behavior.  Decide what and who you are; affirm the best in you. Look inside to see the power you have.

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