Narrative Therapy

Question Your Labels

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The problem with being labeled, even when the label in question is culturally desirable, is that your available options for thinking, feeling, and behaving necessarily shrink dramatically so that only that constellation of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors which ‘belong’ to your label are considered appropriate by you and the community.

Let’s say for example that you’re known as an easygoing person. For most this is a wanted characterization. But suddenly you’re pigeonholed because of it. Any displays of strong emotion, any times where you’re in a bad mood and react with a shorter fuse than is usual for you, are looked upon with special interest by those around you. While this same exact behavior is considered normal and therefore barely noticed when it’s enacted by someone without the easygoing label, for you it’s tabu.

When you unquestioningly accept the labels foisted upon you you’re more easily manipulated and controlled. You’re boxed in, forced into a corner, made to live up or live down to a characterization. As long as you conform to these labels you’ll never find out who and what you really are, you’ll simply keep playing the role of who and what the community believes you are.

So question your labels, not just those you don’t like and wish weren’t associated with you but those you do like and want associated with you. Ask yourself if these labels make you feel free and light or weighed down.