How to Let Go of Labels: Studio 5
Have you ever noticed how much we label each other? We tend to put each other in boxes: there’s the Pinterest mom, the Amazon-Prime mom, the athlete mom, the working mom, the stay-at-home mom, and the list goes on. In life, we need to organize things to make sense of them in our brains, but it can be problematic when we try to categorize people as well. Human beings are multi-dimensional, and labels, even positive ones (“the pretty one,” or “the smart one”), can be limiting. Here are some strategies to move beyond this and see each other as really people:
Avoid The Comparison Trap
We talk about it a lot because it’s so true: we need to stop comparing! Our society tells us that our value is based on ranking: we must be less if other people are more, but this is such a false way to gauge our self-worth. When you find yourself beginning to compare your strengths or weaknesses to someone else, gently remind yourself that someone else’s success or failure has nothing to do with you, and that you can live and improve without being judged against someone else.
Focus On Relationships
We as human beings are wired for connection; we want to relate to others! Labels are about rigid roles, but we should really think about our relationships: motherhood is a relationship, marriage is a relationship, friendships are relationships, etc. We’ll be able to look past the labels when we focus on our connections with other people.
Get Curious About Differences
One of my favorite words is “curiosity.” One of the reasons we label others is because we don’t understand them or necessarily agree with their views, but when you find someone who’s very different than you, I encourage you to get curious about why he/she thinks or acts a certain way. For example, if you’re not very crafty and don’t have much in common with the “Pinterest Mom” who lives in your neighborhood, maybe ask her one day what it is she loves about sewing, making her own baby food, or whatever other crafty passions she has. As we seek to understand others, we won’t feel the need to label them.
Try On Different Labels
Labels are limiting when we put them on other people, but they can also cause us to limit ourselves. If you only see yourself in a certain way, then you might not try new things or branch out. For example, if you think of yourself as somewhat high maintenance in your upkeep of your physical appearance, why not try hitting the grocery store without makeup for once? Or maybe you don’t think of yourself as very musically inclined but still love music. Why not take violin lessons? Try on different “labels,” different perspectives, different roles, and allow yourself to grow in new ways.
Dynamic self & relationship expert Dr. Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW loves to make a difference for women. She owns Wasatch Family Therapy and regularly contributes to KSL TV's Studio 5, and her advice has been featured nationally including Wall Street Journal, Parenting, Fox News, and others. Connect on Facebook & Twitter. Her books The Burnout Cure and The Assertiveness Guide are now available.