While we may not know it, we all go through life wearing labels. Labels are the words that we and others use to describe ourselves. These labels can categorize us and reflect in our mood and what we believe about ourselves. Labels that can eventually end up controlling our destiny. What label are you wearing? Does it tell the true story about you, who you want to be and what you want to achieve? If not, change your label.
We need to wear positive labels. It’s human nature to focus and dwell on things from a negative perspective. As we have talked about before, happiness is a choice and at times a very difficult choice. There are negative influences that we experience on a daily basis that can easily drive us down the negative path.
Like being happy, the label we wear, how we feel about ourselves and how we project ourselves is our choice. Many times it is a label that we have heard others say about us (parents, friends, teachers, and bosses) and we believe them. Often these are negative labels and the more we believe them the more they become who we are. As the saying goes, “you are what you think”.
Studies have shown that the labels truly impact our performance. Labels not only impact the perception we have of ourselves, but how others perceive us as well – which in turn directly impacts us. In a study of elementary school children, teachers labeled kids who accelerated as “average”. The labels were communicated to other teachers and faculty in the school. The kids began seeing themselves differently. Teachers began to expect less of them and in turn treated them differently because of their label. As this label became more known, those children began to perform at more “average” levels. The same was true for “under performers” who were labeled as “exceptional” and began to excel and perform as leaders of the class.
We can’t prevent others from putting labels on us, but we can choose to ignore those labels. Each day we have the choice to wake up and put our own label on – a label that projects who we really are and who we want others to see. Make an effort to give yourself a positive label(s) that focus on your strengths and not on weaknesses. Again, this can be difficult and go against human nature. We need to reprogram levels of negative thinking and focus on positive. Believe in the label that you put on yourself – what do you want to achieve? Positive labels can help you open doors to being more happy and successful.
Since we know that the labels that we put on others can have an impact, when you have a chance, encourage others by putting positive labels on them – your children, co-workers, friends, team mates. It is amazing to see how your little added effort will help them become more positive and see themselves in a different light. Additionally, others will begin to see and treat them differently.
There are a number of examples that show successful people who were labeled negatively and went on to be very successful (Walt Disney, Winston Churchill, Lucille Ball and Shaquille O’Neil). The common denominator amongst these success stories was their ability to shrug off the labels that others had put on them and focus on creating their own labels.
What label are you wearing? Is it a positive reflection of who you are and what you want to achieve?