From early on we are judged by preconceived standards and pushed into predefined labels. Things happen, we behave in a certain way and suddenly, before we realize it, it becomes who we are. By subconscious interpretation of events and other people’s reactions, we find ourselves defining who we are. It becomes our comfort zone – the comfort of knowing one’s identity. It starts with ‘I am a funny guy’, ‘I am a smart girl’, ‘I am pretty but I lack brains’, ‘I am good at sports’, ‘I am a rebel’, ‘I am an outcast’, ‘I am shy’, ‘I am unattractive’. As we grow up, it becomes ‘I am a banker’, ‘I am an average worker’, ‘I am a yoga teacher’, ‘I am a Christian’, ‘I am a mother’, ‘I am single’, ‘I am fat’, ‘I am a smoker’…
All these labels serve us as something. They make us feel safe. They serve as a justification for our actions. However, at the end of the day they become a limit to our true potential.
Imagine you dropped all the labels you have subconsciously acquired. Imagine you stopped defining yourself and allowed yourself to just be in the moment, to continuously explore who you really are and express yourself, follow what truly draws you in rather than close yourself in the label of one profession or social role. This is what true freedom really is. And the key to opening this door, to freeing yourself lies within you. You are the only one who subconsciously accepted these labels as definitions of yourself and you are the only one who can decide to let them go.
Think of the labels you have for yourself. Be honest with yourself. Ask yourself:
What is the definition of my personality? Do I consider myself shy, courageous, smart, silly, funny…?
What is my definition of my profession or talents? Do I consider myself creative? Do I define myself through the position I have at work?
How do I define myself within relationships? Do I feel I need someone to fulfill my desires? Do I feel like I need to please other people to be worthy of their attention? Do I consider myself nurturing, a good listener, a weirdo?
Once you get a grasp of each label, take some time to consider when did you first take it on. What was the first situation you can remember that convinced you that this is who and how you are? When you become aware of how silly and small these situations often have been, it will become so much easier to let go of that label. And once you truly do, you will realize you can be whoever and however you choose to be. You become free.
If you allow yourself to be an open book, you can recreate yourself anew every single moment and you make space for your truest self to come to the surface.
Others have labels for each of us, too. It may be a mark of sanity if your own labels for you are not unlike other peoples’ labels for you. If you have many labels for you (perhaps obtained in fortune cookies) this shows either great generosity, or indecision – let the cookie say which.