Labels – we love them! They define everything around us. They give context to things , stuff … and people!
I am fascinated by how people are defined by others but also by self through the label they wear – of course it’s not a visible label but it’s there non the less. You can often have many labels all at once, your luggage covered like a well-travelled explorer of life.
The fascination comes from how simply these words can instantly create a change in how a person feels.
They can lift you up – head proud – this is me. They can dictate how you see your social circle, who you mix with , what objects you choose to covert in your life. But what about when that changes and you get a label you never expected to have .. suddenly you see yourself in a different light – you are not the person you were and that changes everything around you as well..
Many of my clients have changed their lives and thus changed the label and it is almost always this piece which makes it so hard to move on.
Labels are totally linked to our view of self-esteem.
For women more so than men we have a label for almost every event – it seems as though you blink and suddenly someone has come up and stuck a sticky label on you – that’s it – that’s you now – you are in that box!
I think about the labels I have had over the years .Although I have no issue with the label wife or mum, in fact I see these often as titles which I proudly bear, of course I cannot just be that. So we must define further – I was initially a ‘ young mum’ when I had my first daughter the age of 22. A label which seems to say – ‘perhaps not quite able to cope ? ‘
When I had my son 2 years ago I was a Geriatric mum, even though many women are now having children much later in life.You can imagine the looks and comments I gave to the staff around me at that time. But again a label which also said ‘ perhaps not quite able to cope ‘ but from a totally different view-point
Then of course we must label further …
I have always been a working mum. It appears I could not be a full-time mum as I went to work and therefore I stopped being a mum a work and was only a mum on a part-time basis. On the flip side of course mums who are full time in the home are not labelled as working because well – they just don’t ! ( yes I am saying this all tongue in cheek before people implode with rage)
I have been career girl , single parent , separated , divorced , second wife, mature student – all of which conjure up feelings in me of times in my life, but also honestly about whether I liked that label or not – and whether I liked it, was I guess, very much based on how society saw the wider group they associated with it. Career girl was very high flying , always busy , juggling everything , single parent always felt a bit sad even though we were extremely happy and I really enjoyed that part of my life. separated felt unfinished and divorced was a label which some people almost whispered as if to say – on the shelf again. Second wife is a favourite. It doesn’t sound very permanent does it. As if you are just there for a bit until another one comes along and also brings up feelings sometimes of not quite belonging in the family group.
Now I am a step mum – a label which brings images of dreadful relationships between child and adult ( when in fact we do alright – that is subject for another blog) and to be honest I am not even sure what the label means – because in actual fact I am not their mum. They have a mum – I am ,dare I say it ‘ Ali ‘. And there in is my point.
Throughout all of these labels I have been given and the roles I have undertaken – I have been Ali. Of course I have changed , grown and filtered during the years – that is life… But I look back and I see how I allowed the label to define me in many instances, when in fact I needed to define me by who I was. That is why when life changes and your label changes to something you don’t identify with it is so hard to pick up and move on. Add into the mix the fact we all love a diagnosis so you can now be anxious , stressed , depressed etc. and it’s no wonder people say to me – I am am not even sure who I am any more ? .
You need to remember that you are still you .. you are all the things you were before as a being. Your routine may have changed , your physical tasks may be different .. but you are always there . When we take time to connect and be still we can just be. A wonderful coach talked to me recently about really owning who you are being. Owning who that person is that you are portraying.
Without going in the realms of darkness that is political society we are so keen to label people now a days so we can make a judgement that it seems a good place to say :
A label cannot ‘ make you feel’ anything unless you choose to let it do so.
A label should not define how we view ourselves or how we view others.
A label should be something you choose to have or not have ….
Sending much love out there from this business women / mum / step mum / second wife/ slightly frazzled psychotherapist!