It’s funny isn’t it? How we feel the need to be part of something.
A couple of weeks ago I joined thousands of people screaming at the TV when the first episode of The Apprentice 2014 was aired.
Now, in fairness, shouting at the TV is what makes this programme so much fun– but this year my shouting reached a new level.
Why? Because of this lady (please ignore the fact that she’s a hypnotherapist!)
This lady didn’t just label herself but also put the same expectations on everyone else.
She said women could sell better because they could wear short skirts and make up. She started off the first week as a project manager for the women’s team and tried to get all the women in her team to wear short skirts.
Whilst this seems ridiculous, it is not unusual for us to put ourselves into boxes – to label ourselves. We criticise others for imposing these labels on us but have you ever really thought of how often you do this to yourself?
Labels make us feel like we belong. They make us feel like we are not alone. In a way, they make us feel “normal”.
I have heard many interviews lately about depression where someone who had been really struggling went to the doctor who labelled them as “clinically depressed”. You can hear the relief as they are interviewed – they are not crazy – they have a label.
Because a label implies someone somewhere knows how to treat you. Because you now belong.
But how do you get rid of a label? Once you have found your place, it is so much harder to give it up. So we cling on to the labels we have been given (or give ourselves) for way longer than needed.
You are not depressed. You are experiencing the symptoms of depression.
You are not an anorexic. You are experiencing the symptoms of anorexia.
You are not anxious. You experience anxiety.
You are not your label. You are you.
Sometimes the first step in moving forward can be to accept that you are so much more than a label you have been given.
Just because Sarah on the Apprentice found she could sell reasonably well, doesn’t mean that it was because of her short skirts and make up. Maybe there was more to it than that. So applying that formula to other women might not have the results she would expect.
That’s the problem with labels. They are black and white. And people aren’t. There is so much more to you than a label.
I don’t work with labels. I don’t care what your ‘diagnosis’ is. What I do know is that the way you experience your problem is unique to you. I also know that no matter what you are struggling with, there is a way past it. You see that’s the other problem with labels – if the standard solutions don’t work, there is nowhere left to go.
So think about the way you label yourself and ask yourself “If I was not X who would I be?”
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