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The Dangers of Labelling Yourself

Whether we can afford Gucci, Ted Baker or Marks and Spencer or H&M, wearing a label can often make us feel good and give us an extra sway to our swagger! Even if we are not bothered about fashion, having a certain brand of bike or phone or sportswear can make us feel good in some way.

We also seem to be just as keen on giving ourselves labels about who we are. It’s as if we need these labels to define us or give us an identity or a sense of belonging. You often hear people saying I’m sporty or I’m a bookworm or I’m a shopper or I’m a big drinker. It may be we are, but it’s always worthwhile taking a moment to consider are we really that or is it something someone once said to us and we have now taken that on as a belief. It’s better to think of these things as behaviours rather than letting them define who we are. The thing is, we tend dip in and out of certain behaviours all the time, depending on where we are, how we are feeling and who we are with.

The bottom line is, labels limit you. We often say or think things such as ‘I’m an X person so I do things like ABC because that’s what X people do.’ Or ‘I’m an X person and I can’t do ABC because X people don’t do that. We live up to the label. They give us no room for improvement. They keep us stuck in certain patterns of behaviour and certain ways of being that are often unhelpful.

When we say things such as I’m an anxious person or I’m broken, or I’m damaged our capacity to heal and create change is significantly reduced. They are very fixed statements. We remain stuck in that state even if deep down we want to change. Now I do realise how hard it can be when we identify so strongly with those labels to change it completely. Using a phrase such as ‘at the moment’ at the end of such a statement, is a kind of half-way house. You’re giving the mind a little bit of hope that things can change, can be different, that you won’t always be that way. That short simple phrase helps the mind consider that there are other possibilities and to start to look for ways to start helping you change and improve. Instead of labelling yourself as an anxious person, have a go at changing it slightly to ‘I’m having anxious thoughts.’ A subtle tweak but it helps detach it from you as a person and your identity and makes it more about behaviour. And behaviour is much easier to change.

Labels don’t have to just be a word. A phrase such as, ‘this is just who I am’ is equally as limiting. It implies that you will always be a certain way because that’s how you’ve been in the past. It’s like giving the subconscious a direct instruction that you don’t want to change, that change is impossible. It destroys any expectation or hope. Again, it’s difficult to change our thinking to the polar opposite of what we believe but adding that ‘at the moment’ phrase implies that change is possible and that we won’t always be this way. The thing is, we are constantly changing. Think about how different you are now compared to a few years ago or even longer. You’ll most likely find some big changes have occurred along the way.

Once you realise that you are constantly changing and embrace that, you start to realise that you have far more power than perhaps you thought. You realise that we are not our labels, we are more than them, so maybe it’s time to stop wearing them.

Did you know that hypnotherapy can help you change these identities and labels? If you'd like to make that change in your life, get in touch today.


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