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Guest Post: Beware of Limiting Labels

Posted Jul 22 2009 12:14am

jumping.JPG Beware of limiting labels.  Were you always “the smart one”? Or “the pretty one”, “the shy one”, “the athlete” or “the geek”?  It’s difficult to escape childhood without being given a label.  The labels may have been flattering or they may have been demeaning.   In either case, chances are you lived up to the label you were given.

Think about it. Let’s say you were “the funny one.”  The attention and praise you were showered with whenever you did something funny felt great, so you kept at it in order to receive that praise.  But what happened when you wanted to be intelligent and serious?  Chances are you didn’t take the risk.  Venturing into the unknown and risking criticism or falling short of your goal wasn’t worth losing your tried and true role as the entertainer.

Even though a label may be flattering, it’s limiting because it can prevent you from stepping out of the comfort zone of how you’re being viewed and received.  We fail to strive beyond our labels.   Without the label, all areas are fair game as there are no expectations of how you should behave.

People love to categorize people, places and things.  It is easier for many of us to organize and compartmentalize things when we know what category everything belongs in.  If you grew up in a household with siblings, maybe each of you had your own label, which served as a way to easily describe you. “The smart one”, “the pretty one”, and “the baby” may have been descriptors that helped your parents easily introduce you to their friends, but these labels could also have held you back.

What about negative labels that we may have been given, or labels we may have interpreted to be negative?  If it was said enough times, we probably just accepted it to be true.  Unfortunately, this is how our belief systems are formed. Someone we trust (or a group, organization, society, etc.) says the same thing with conviction over and over again. Eventually we buy into it and it becomes part of our beliefs.

But what if that person or group that we trust was also on the receiving end of some limiting beliefs?   As a result, they may be misinformed, may not know any better, and they unknowingly pass that damage along to you.  Because of your trust and belief in that authority figure, you accepted the label (good or bad) that they placed on you.

For example, let’s say you had a parent who always called you “lazy”.   Maybe they were trying to motivate you to be another way or maybe they thought it was an accurate description of how you behaved.  In either case, you grew up thinking, “if they said it all those times, it must be true.”  So when opportunities came up, you heard that ongoing tape in your head – “you’re lazy” – and figured that whatever was involved may take too much effort for you because you are just too lazy.

Here’s the good news – you can get rid of all of these limiting beliefs once you identify them, evaluate them and decide to discard them.  Just as I keep saying, it’s our job to change what we don’t like.  As I’ve also said, it may not be easy, but it’s so worth it.

Can you think of some instances where your labels stand in the way of the happy, healthy version of yourself that you want to be?  Are you “the fun one” and that makes it difficult for you to say no to indulging at parties? Are you “the clumsy one” and that makes it difficult for you to try a new exercise routine?

What if you could throw away the old labels that aren’t contributing to your success and pick new ones that support your goals? What if you decided you were “the adventurous one”?  Or “the healthy one”?  Or “the happy one”?  What would that version of you be able to do?

Debi%20Photo.JPG Debi Silber, MS, RD, WHC The Mojo Coach™ is a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s degree in Nutrition Science.   She’s a Certified Personal Trainer, Whole Health Coach, Lifestyle Expert – just for moms, speaker and the author of The Lifestyle Fitness Program: A Six Part Plan So Every Mom Can Look, Feel and Live Her Best and From Mom To Wow: Your Ultimate Body, Mind and Life Makeover Guide.   Debi’s been branded The Mojo Coach™ because for nearly 20 years she’s inspired and empowered overweight, overwhelmed and unfit moms to “get their mojo back” through gradual, lifestyle change.   Sign up for a free report, 52 weeks of weekly tips and a subscription to Debi’s newsletter, Mojo Moments, at

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