This is a re-posting from one of my other blogs, Bonjour Bellingham.
One of the biggest challenges I face is ditching labels I have claimed for myself. I understand that we use labels to define our identity and to fit in with other like-minded people. However, when we stick these labels onto ourselves, we confine ourselves in boxes of other people’s expectations and rules. This post applies now to Americans who face a Presidential Election this November–lose the labels and vote from your heart.
The problem with labels, besides having to live up to them revolves around dualism. For instance, if I’m a vegetarian or a vegan this automatically pits me against carnivores. And with those labels there, I act defensive and never look beyond a person’s dietary choices. So I could miss out on getting to know a person’s other qualities besides what he or she eats for lunch.
Politically we label ourselves conservative or progressive which eliminates about half the population of people we choose not to engage with based on their political beliefs. Or if we do engage with them often times we end up in a knock-down-drag-out fight, if not as a heated debate, then an all-out war. And let’s not even get into religion since wars are still fought over personal gods of choice.
Should we wear our labels on the backs of our clothing or plastered to our chest like name labels? This reminds me of my junior high (middle school) years when the right clothing labels allowed entry to the lunch table of the popular kids. We’d break our backs picking berries or spend our leisure time babysitting just to purchase a pair of $40.00 jeans (1970’s price). And sadly, as adults, if we’re still not obsessed with designer labels, we attach political, dietary, disease-survivor or religious labels to our identity so we can fit in with the crowd du jour.
And I understand perfectly well, the need to feel understood and to belong to a tribe. While I pretty much foot it alone through life, I succumb to those basic psychological and emotional desires too. This is one reason I don’t like attending gatherings. The other reason I don’t enjoy attending gatherings (though I do have my social side) is that I despise conversations that start with, “So, what do you do?”
I would rather start a conversation with, “So, what are you passionate about these days? What fires up your spirit?” And I can just see the types of looks people will give me.
Yet, we aren’t what we do for a living or even our belief systems. And we’ll never act or be authentic with all those labels plastered to us. And just like real labels with adhesives these labels create some sticky situations. For instance, what if you change teams midstream and leave the carnivore crowd for the vegan tree huggers? Or what if you figure out that you don’t actually enjoy hanging out at rock music clubs and prefer music by Debussy or Ravel? Do you end friendships with people who prefer rock to classical music? And if this is true, what was the quality of those friendships in the first place?
What if we just ditched all the labels and decide that it’s enough just to exist on this beautiful planet and explore our myriad of options? What if we chose to walk in another person’s shoes despite their differences and engage in a real conversation that doesn’t begin with, “What do you do for a living?” or “Hi, I’m Patricia, I’m a vegetarian.” Yeah, like that last bit attracts friends…
I realize that I’m opening a can of worms here that leaves those mushy critters squirming on the picnic table. People love their labels so much that they collect more labels, mainly from the media. Let me give you a list of labels that come directly from marketers and the media: Baby Boomer, Generation X, Millennials, Generation Y, Tree Huggers, Progressives, Liberals, Conservatives…Other labels are defined by youth or an industry. And labels mainly act as shorthand for journalists who have a word count to contend with or for a copy editor selling a product to the populace.
However, having said that, there is one label that I love a lot, Cultural Creatives because it defines a group of people that do think outside of the box and come up with innovative solutions for the planet. But it is still a label and at some point even these folks will desire to bust out of the confinement of a label. And there’s the question on most people’s lips, “If I don’t have labels, how do I define myself?”
Some day, we’ll just live from a place of exploration and discovery. We’ll balance our spiritual nature with our egos while drawing unconditional love from our personal god or the Universe at-large. We’ll come from a place of curiosity about others rather than strike up a defense against their differences. And while this sounds like Utopia, learning to drop labels fosters our authentic nature and even takes us back to a place of childhood innocence. Remember what it felt like before we learned how to label everything and everyone? We had few if any prejudices back then, except for the ones our parents fed to us.
I offer intuitive coaching and astrology sessions both locally in Washington State and via long-distance for the western US and British Columbia, Canada. I’m open to clients from North America. See service page before contacting me at wholemusicex at gmail
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