Humans have a tendency to identify other humans by a series of labels, and those labels have the potential to limit our perception of other people around us. We categorise and sort people into neat little boxes and try to force them to remain within them.
I’ve been reading a lot about the generational shift we are apparently about to experience, and the fact that we are going to move away from labels more and more. What an amazing evolutionary step that would be, and I hope I live to see it. Though I am not sure it will be within this lifetime.
It got me to thinking about labels more broadly though: we give ourselves labels in much the same way as we do others, and then allow them to limit us. We attempt to slot ourselves into neat little boxes and try to force ourselves to remain within them.
We stand on the sidelines of life, and watch in awe whilst others do/be and achieve amazing things. Amazing things that we believe to our core that we are incapable of.
Of course it’s utter nonsense; of course we can do amazing things. We can do and be whatever we want to be. But when we live our lives through the identification of labels and allow those labels and the limiting beliefs behind them to take hold, we are actually not living as the fullest versions of who we really are and therefore not allowing ourselves to reach our full potential.
I’ve been as guilty as everyone else of this over the years, and recently I’ve been conducting a little audit to look at what those things are, so that the labelling shifts to something a little more supportive of my evolution.
I’d like to share with you all what some of those labels have been.
Let’s start with Ruthie. Ruthie is a name that many people call me, and I love it, but when I chose to call myself by that name professionally, it was in an attempt to be more approachable, and hopefully more palatable. For you see; Ruth is playful and fun, but she is also powerful and structured. Ruthie gave me a good persona to hide behind, and looking back, I’m not sure whether I was afraid of Ruth in her fullness being too much for the rest of the world, or afraid of her being just too much for me.
As time has passed, I have felt more comfortable in claiming Ruth in her full essence. That doesn’t mean my playful side has gone away, but it just means I feel able to allow the other parts of me to unfurl, and can celebrate them fully. Don’t worry, you can still call me Ruthie if you want to, and I will still call myself Ruthie at times I’m sure, but you will see me now across social platforms as Ruth.
Seeing myself as someone who doesn’t drive was also a hugely limiting belief, and one that I only overcame with the encouragement of others. I let it be the thing that other people do, and allowed myself to be afraid of it for 10 years after passing my test.
Being divorced is also a label that I used to use to limit myself, as well as my general experiences with relationships. I became ‘the girl that lived through all this terrible stuff’. It doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, but it has changed from the thing that I am to some stuff that happened that enabled me to get to a place where I see the world a little differently.
When I worked as a Recruitment Consultant that was one of my most limiting labels of all. I saw myself and my role in an incredibly negative way, and made myself feel inferior because of it; professionally, intellectually and spiritually. Now I look back and am shocked by how crazy that seems, given how much I am thriving professionally now.
More recently, a limiting label has taken the form of me not seeing myself as someone who could possibly teach yoga. I am in the process of letting that limiting belief go, and relax into this brilliant new experience. It doesn’t mean I live by the Yogi title either, I am simply Ruth who practices and teaches movement in the form of yoga.
Perhaps it’s worth asking yourself what some of the labels that you might use to limit yourself currently? What are some of the ones you have used in the past? How are you holding yourself back?
With better understanding of our own labels, we also become better at being conscious of some of the labels we give others. With consciousness comes the ability to monitor, modify and change behaviours.
So perhaps it’s time we call them out collectively and see if we can open ourselves up enough to embrace some brilliant new opportunities for ourselves, whilst at the same time perhaps open ourselves up enough to embrace some brilliant new people.