Rip Off Your Ragged Old Labels And Run Free

image: cynical pink

Labels can be so useful. When you go and buy your food and groceries, you can pick out what you need easily by what’s on the label.

Imagine going into the canned vegetables aisle of your local supermarket, and none of the tins having any labels. There are just shelves and shelves and naked silver tins, with a hundred different types of vegetable inside, but absolutely no way of knowing what they are without opening the can.

Labels in this instance are a very helpful idea!

Not quite so when it comes to people though. Because when you give someone a label, they will more often than not live up to it.

Tell someone they’re a loser, a waste of space, stupid and incompetent, and they will probably do a very good job of being a loser, a waste of space, stupid and incompetent. In fact they might even been so good at it they virtually make it into an art form.

On the other hand, tell someone they’re creative, talented, capable and courageous and they will most likely rise up to this label and prove it to be right.

But we’re not just talking about “someone” here, we’re talking about you. And when it comes to labeling, the person who labels you most is you.

To reveal some of your favourite labels for yourself, try this quick exercise.

Take a sheet of paper and write in the centre – “I am…”, and circle it. Then, start drawing lines coming out from that central circle, filling them in with all the things you believe you are, all the labels you have given yourself.

Write whatever comes to you, maybe “a father, a writer, a photographer” and “capable, inconsistent, talented, naive”, get down everything that comes.

This will soon give you a good idea of how you see yourself.

What kind of phrases came up? Did you write things like “I am creative”, “I am intelligent”, “I am compassionate”?

Or were they more like: “I am an underachiever”, “I am useless”, “I am lazy”?

If you wrote the positive stuff, then that’s brilliant, you obviously have a strong belief in yourself.

If you wrote the more negative, restrictive phrases, then your beliefs about yourself  won’t allow you to be all you can be, and to be yourself.

Let’s go back to our aisle of canned vegetables for a moment. (Please try to contain your excitement.)

What if there was a mix up at the factory? What if, you thought you were buying the basic, own brand mushy peas, because that’s what it said on the label. But when you got home and opened the tin, inside was not cheap mushy peas, but caviar, worth fifty times what you paid for it.

Labels aren’t fixed, they’re not permanent.

And it’s likely that though you’re more precious than caviar, early in your life (in the labeling area of the factory) someone slapped on a label that said “mushy peas”. Or “kidney beans”. Or something equally uninspired and unfitting.

It’s time to rip off those labels and run free.

How do you do this? It won’t happen overnight, but there are steps you can take today, and every day, to help you live up to all the incredible talents you really do have.

The first step, you’ve already taken. Identify all those negative labels you’ve attached to yourself.

The next step is to remove and replace them, one by one. Turn them around.

“I am an underachiever” becomes “I can achieve anything I set my mind and focus to”.

“I am useless” becomes “I have all the talents and abilities I need to be whoever I want to be”.

“I am lazy” becomes “I am focused and committed to becoming the best version of myself I can be”.

And so on. Start now, take the label that you feel holds you back the most. Write it on a piece of paper on its own. Then rip it up into tiny pieces.

Take a new sheet of paper and write down your new label, the positive turnaround. Doing this once will help, but you must keep reprogramming those old labels every day, many times a day, to make the new positive ones stick.

So, are you ready to rip off YOUR ragged old labels and run free?

Share with us below the labels you carry around with you that hold you back most.

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7 thoughts on “Rip Off Your Ragged Old Labels And Run Free”

  1. As a child, when you’re sent out into the world full of self-doubt and with the negative labeling already heaped on you, others pick up on this and those labels become reinforced. The momentum from all that negativity becomes a huge mountain to overcome.

    I always believed there must be a kernel of truth to the labels put on me early on, but I finally realized these labels originally came from someone’s own insecurities and personal baggage. It’s a matter of deciding if that person’s insecurities have more validity than the person I really am, or can be.


  2. Hi Diane, I think that’s a good point, then when we’re loaded up with negative labels, that’s literally what others see in us and pick up on, we project it out into the world.

    The opposite, or the way to overcome it, is to “act as if” we are confident, courageous and so on. If we project that into the world, that’s what others will believe we are like, and we’ll believe it ourselves.

    A personal example: I did a salsa dancing taster session last night at the after party of a fashion show (it sounds far more glam than it was 🙂 ) and afterwards people came up to me and said things to me like “You’re so confident”, “That was great, I could never get up and do that kind of thing in front of a room full of people”… There’s a part of me that doesn’t think I could do that either! But I just do it, pretend I know what I’m doing, do the best I can, and it works, mostly.

    I think what we become what we do day in day out, and we can choose what that is, choose the labels, or design unique fabulous new ones that only fit us.

    Thanks for your comment.


  3. So true! I’m also (finally) starting to believe that it doesn’t matter really what others think, and believing that projects a very different demeanor. When you project the image of a victim, you’re more easily victimized.

    Thanks for your posts. Always an inspiration. Your personal anecdotes help clarify your point.


  4. I think the other side of the coin is true Diane also. If you spend your time with negative, energy sapping people, then however strong you are, it will bring you down.

    If you surround yourself with inspiring, encouraging people (and I mean in a genuine, honest way, not just sycophantic Yes people that say everything is hunky dory even when it’s falling apart) then you are more likely to raise your game and be more positive and more creative yourself.


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