Understanding the impact of labels can help us to move past them and simply be free to be ourselves!
So, let’s start with a thought exercise: Jot down or just make a mental list of the labels in your life.
What have people said about you?
How would people describe you?
In the ordinary, real world, people live with labels. Labels make it easier for people to understand others, like sorting people into boxes of similar things. For instance, someone may have boxes labeled “addict,” “depressed,” “uptight.” When they meet someone, they want to easily understand that person and so they mentally put them in one of the boxes they’ve already labeled. They think they know how to predict that person’s behavior and motivations now that they have labeled them.
There are at least two problems with labels. The person doing the labeling (calling you an uptight person, for example), might make assumptions (also called projections) that keep them from really getting to know you. But also, walking around with a label on you makes you more likely to act like the label. So it’s really helpful to think about what labels have been defining your behavior!
If your role in your group of friends is the sexy one, you don’t carry yourself like the nerdy one. The way you walk, sit, eat, laugh, and speak is affected by such definitions of self. Everything is.Martha Beck, Oprah.com
So this week’s Fit For Service challenge is:
Become aware of the stories that I am telling myself that have become a part of my identity.
How can we really do this? We have to separate ourselves from the label and connect to feeling the raw sensation itself. When it is JUST a sensation, you can decide then what you want to do with it! Let me explain some more.
Labels I have been called and/or identified around my health and who I have been in my life.
– Insecure/Over emotional/Intense
– Scoliosis (Curve of my spine)
– Ovarian Cancer
– Uptight/Rigid Food Nazi
– Healthy & Fit
As I sit here and look at the list of “labels” that I have been called and even ones I placed upon myself, I realize I have created multiple “stories” in my head which I allowed to become a part of my identity.
When it comes to my health, I can remember the first label that was placed on me. “You have cancer and you may never be able to have kids.” This happened at the age of 18 years old.
The second label I remember being placed upon me was at the age of 21. I was involved in a major car accident and broke my tailbone on impact. I was told I had scoliosis and will have back pain and problems forever!
Both stories made me take a hard look at my life and re-evaluate the way I was taking care of myself. I became open to trying something different and new. At the age of 22, I was introduced to a woman who did Reiki and Energy Healing on my body and that rocked my world! It changed me, and I have never looked back!
My view about health shifted forever through that experience. I started to become the author of my story when it came to my health.
I began to dive deep into spirituality and healing, including more emotional and spiritual healing. While this was (and is) a super important part of my life, this led to more labels: “spiritual,” “uptight,” and “intense.”
I started to feel like I didn’t belong. I felt different. I was actually proud of these labels, and I began to think of others around me as wrong for not being like me. I thought everybody should be into healing and spirituality, and it should look like it did for me.
After becoming a personal trainer at 22, I wanted to help others heal. After all, I had learned to heal my own body! This started my life long passion and journey.
By the time I was 24 I had entered into my first figure competition. At the time I wanted to be labeled “healthy & fit,” and I believed at the time that if I looked like the woman on Oxygen magazine, I would get that label!
Well, as you can tell from my photo, I was far from healthy and fit. I weighed in at 98lbs and felt horrible. My view of what it meant to be healthy and fit had been very misleading and far from the truth I knew deep down.
Again, this was a label I was seeking out, but little did I know, it was unfulfilling and actually made me sick!
Identity is forged through years of experience, bonding, learning history and attaching yourself to that history.Jodi Klugman-Rabb, Psychology Today
Fast forward, two years later when I was 26, I decided to go back to school and get my Nutrition Degree. I became a Holistic Nutritionist! Talk about unlearning and relearning the label of what my own “healthy & fit” looked like to me!
But here is the kicker: since then, I have also been labeled:
– Insecure/Over emotional/Intense
– Uptight/Rigid Food Nazi
Sometimes, these labels led me to shame myself and beat myself up, like something was “wrong” with me! These labels that outside influences have placed upon me are their view. But over the years, I found myself “believing” them and making them part of my story.
Knowing I’m More Than A Label
So here is the truth:
1. Yes, at times feel insecure and emotional. I am human but know that these are just my emotions and they are not me!
2. Yes, at times I can come across as uptight, intense, and rigid when it comes to my food. Even though I do have weaknesses in this area (especially when I’m motivated by fear), this doesn’t define who I am to my core. When it comes to my food, I encourage others to do what serves them. I love to cook, and inspire others through my actions of flexibility and creation through food. (Yes I like pizza and cookies and eat them without shaming myself.)
3. And hell yes, I am sexy! But this hasn’t always seemed like a good label to me. This is what I have been called by multiple partners and it would make me mad! It was like all they saw was the outside, and they never cared to learn about the inner me. Now, “sexy” is something I embrace when I am with a loving partner. I allow myself to be sexy, and I know that I am much more than that. But I do appreciate the compliment.
So here is what I have learned….
I am healthy. I am responsible for my health. What other people label me is a projection of themselves deep down, and part of me is that beautiful mirror within them.
To project (make an image), in psychology: to wrongly imagine that someone else is feeling a particular emotion or desire when in fact it is you who feels this wayCambridge English Dictionary
Even though spirituality is a tool to help me, this is not who I am. It is a path to be kinder to myself and others around me. To learn deeper levels of compassion and forgiveness to self and others.
If I were to label myself today based on who I am in my core, it would be “unconditional love.”
When you love without condition, your spirits can never be separated.