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The importance we attach to labels

What is a label?

A definition I found in a dictionary was: a classifying phrase or name applied to a person or thing, especially one that is inaccurate or restrictive.

I want to talk about labels concerning people and how you use labels to both categorise yourself and others. A label may be only one word, but it can have many attributes.

So what labels have you given to yourself lately? Are you a genius, dunce, average, beautiful, handsome, ugly, short, tall, introvert, extrovert?


Exercise 1: Write down any labels you use to describe yourself regularly with your self-talk

(pause and do this now) :


What you label yourself as will have a massive impact on the life you lead and the person you perceive yourself to be. Labels are generalisations that you can throw about all the time, some can be empowering and positive, and others can have the opposite effect and be negative and be disempowering.

Labels you give yourself have a much more significant impact than those that are provided to you by society or others. The exception to this would be when you are still young and impressionable. If those that matter to you, such as parents, teachers and friends label you a certain way enough times, you may adopt those labels in your internal dialogue. Again this may not be all bad, as some of these labels may be empowering.

So in exercise 1, you looked at the labels you describe yourself as regularly, in exercise 2, I want you to re-examine those same labels.


Exercise 2: Review all the labels from exercise 1. Think back to your formative years, were any of these used to describe you by parents, family, teachers or friends? (pause and do this exercise now) :


If in exercise 2, you found that some labels you give yourself are still hanging around since your formative years, are they accurate? I imagine you have changed in so many ways since you were younger. Do these labels you still associate with yourself serve you or act to disempower you?

If you are disempowered, then it is time to cast that old label aside. Remember these are throwaway terms people use to generalise, but when you are young, your brain soaks everything up, and you can take these labels on as part of your identity without realising. Especially if adults dish out these labels, the adults you looked up to at the time.


This is an excerpt from my book: TAME YOUR INNER CRITIC, which is available on the links below:

Or direct from Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions:


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