Labels ~ love em or hate em?

I often hear people saying “I don’t use labels, I am what I am” and I totally understand and on a surface level I agree.  Labels can cause a whole host of problems:

Labels limit
For instance, years ago I decided to label myself as Pagan.  I had learnt about the path and almost all I read made sense.  For a while I hung out with Pagans and stayed within that box, until Jesus appeared in a meditation during a solo ritual.  I pushed him away saying I wasn’t Christian I was Pagan and because of that I couldn’t work with him.

When he showed up a second time I realised I needed to rethink my choice of box and with a friend’s help I came up with a new label Pagan Lightworker.  This is a great label because it is so open; part of me is Pagan and part of me is Lightworker.

Labels give the opportunity for judgement
Another way they can limit us is through misinformation.  If I tell someone I am Pagan I am opening myself up to being judged before they have got to know me.  They could instantly have me down as a “cannibalistic Satan worshipper” and not spend time getting to know the “tree hugging nature lover” that I actually am.

From here we can see that labels need to be used carefully, if we use them at all.  But why bother?

Labels bring people together
Sometimes labeling yourself, or an aspect of who you are, can help you learn and grow by giving you a search tool to find people who are similar that you can learn from.

When I realised I experience seasonal affective disorder I added that label to my life.  Some people prefer to say “it’s just what happens in the winter” and go no further but in naming it SAD I was able to own it and seek out other people who have it and learn more and more about it.  In doing so I found souls that experienced the same kind of things and in doing so was able to learn and share coping strategies.

Again, when I realised that Introvert applies to me I was able to seek out other introverts and learn how to live a less stressful life.

How do you wear your labels?
In the end, like with so many things in life, it’s not the label that is the problem, it’s how you let it colour your life.  If a label limits you or allows people to judge you, think about how you go about using it.  Does it define you or does it help you find like minds?

 

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