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  • Fe Robinson

What's in a label?

I've been reflecting this week on the power that words have, in particular the ones we use to label ourselves.

I've long thought of myself as a jogger. Recently it was suggested to me I was actually a runner. Not only that, but that I was a Mum who runs.

As I felt my chest puff out, I was amused by the difference in how I felt as I shifted to perceiving myself as someone who not only runs, but runs against the odds, finding time amidst the myriad other things that call my attention.

I got to wondering, where am I limited by the labels I use? If jogger to running mum can shift my self-belief so much so quickly, what else was possible?

Thinking beyond myself, it is clear time and again when clients talk that the way they think of themselves can get in the way of them having the life they want. People sometimes label themselves as depressed, or anxious, or foolish, or a failure, as if they really were those things. Identifying with a label can leave you stuck with its consequences because it can become a filter that you use to look at the world through, or even a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Just changing the label and making it less enduring, for example 'I am depressed' might become 'I am feeling low just now' opens up a world of possibilities for change. Better still, anyone can do it and it's completely free.

Why not keep an ear out for the words you use to describe yourself? You might jot them down, and later consider the consequences of using them. If you spot labels that are on reflection not accurate, or are not helpful to you, why not swap in a new way of thinking that you find more enabling? All that jogging might just be running after all!


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