“The inner speech, your thoughts, can cause you to be rich or poor, loved or unloved, happy or unhappy, attractive or unattractive, powerful or weak.” – Ralph Charell
Labels are forms of identification. They are the names you mentally call yourself in your head. They are the tags that you believe describe who you are. Labels can be positive or negative. Labels used in negative self-talk can restrict you from being your fullest potential. They do not honor the person you can be.
Labeling yourself negatively stems from thinking that you are defective, flawed and un-whole. You simply believe that you are “not good enough”. You are not able to accept that you are humanly imperfect. Each time you affix a negative label on yourself, you feel down and leak energy.
It does not matter even if others may have used the label on you once. The most important thing is how you have viewed yourself because of the name-calling. You may mistakenly even blame others for causing you to feel miserable. However, it is really you who have inflicted more misery inwards.
Where others have pronounced you a “pig”, you are likely to have called yourself “a pig” over and over again in your self-talk whilst stewing over in anger. You are not able to sleep well at night because of the constant replay in your mind. Hence, your greatest enemy is not your friend who has called you a “pig” but yourself.
Let’s look into more examples of what some of these negative labels in our self-talk are…
1. I am such a “failure” or “loser”.
You probably view life as a game whereby you either “lose” or “win”. So you are attached to the results. Having labels such as “failure” or “loser” lowers you confidence and prevents you from attaining the success that you deserve.
2. I am a “freak”.
There is something about you that makes you different. And so you do not quite conform to being what is considered normal in society. Feeling like an “alien”, you often wonder what you are doing here on Planet Earth.
3. I am born “unlucky”.
You believe that you are doomed for life because of your birth circumstances. Perhaps you have been born in dismal conditions such as poverty, a serious handicap or have lost both your parents. Whatever it is, you believe that you are at a greater disadvantage than others, with no head start.
4. I am “ugly”, “fat”, “flat” or “short” and so on.
When you look in the mirror, you experience a sense of dejection. You find it hard to practice self-acceptance . You feel imperfect because of a certain body part. It would be awesome if you can look like a god or goddess, with features that are flawless. Unfortunately, you do not. You may also have realized that at best, you look rather ordinary.
5. I am “stupid”.
With a label like “stupid”, you prevent yourself from being able learn things effectively. You believe that you are not born intelligent enough. And so you hamper yourself because you say that you are not able to think critically, analyze or learn fast.
25 Negative Labels That Stifle You
I have shared about 14 labels that are commonly used:
Then, there are also others like
- emo or emotional
and so on.
My Own Experience
I remember labeling myself as “slow” when I compared my own performance to some of my peers at an early point in my career. Each of us had joined as a management trainee. As a member of the trainee team, we were also supposed to be in some kind of fast track in terms of career progression. One of the members openly wondered how without scoring top-notch university grades, I actually made it to the team. Hearing his comments repeatedly, I soon formed the belief that I would never be quite as good as the rest.
Well, we were made to go through evaluation rounds during our training. During the last 2 final rounds, we were asked many difficult questions. To answer them required practical knowledge of having dealt with emergency situations, which of course none of us had. We had joined the company for only three months. Taken aback with the questions, my teammates and I fell silent.
Then, as I stood facing the panel of judges, the right answers came flooding into my mind. Don’t ask me how. I managed to answer all the questions, to the astonishment of everyone. The team made it because I could successfully answer the questions. After the evaluation round, I could see that my teammates were disappointed with their inability to answer the questions.
Not just this experience but several, I have come to appreciate that being first in the queue is not always the best. I would find myself catching up and then performing better – if not just as well – than others. It is the diligence and constant practice to learn the parts that I do not know that has helped. I prefer to do things at the pace that I can cope with. Slow and steady wins the race!
How to Turn the Situation Around
Here are some ways that you can turn the situation around if you are using the following negative labels on yourself:
1. “Failure”, “Loser”. It will help if you can alter your perception of things. Life is a journey, with a series of adventures. In some of these adventures, you do better than others and in others, you do not do as well. You have not actually failed or lost if you have not given up. You also need to learn how to enjoy the journey in the meantime, instead of being too quick to condemn yourself.
2. “Freak”. Others may have called you names, which boil down to labeling you as a freak. You are the least popular person in school or in the neighborhood. Luckily for you, there is now Lady Gaga to the rescue through bringing attention to the subject on bullying with her”“Born this Way” foundation.
3. Born “unlucky”. Well, you need to learn to make good. Many of us are born imperfect or not in the best circumstances. Instead of feeling like a victim, you need to develop courage and overcome your challenges. You become a force of inspiration like Nick Vujicic, who has no limbs but who is leading a life without limits.
4. Body Imperfection such as “fat”, “ugly” and so on.Getting plastic surgery done to improve your looks may help to enhance your confidence but it may not sufficiently address the root cause of your problem: low self-love and esteem . You have to get to know your innate value by accessing your core deeply.
5. “Stupid”.Let us learn from Thomas Edison, famous American inventor and businessman with a record of 1,093 patents. He once said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration”. With determination and diligence, you would be able to gain mastery over a subject. So never give up!
Switch from Negative to Positive Self-Talk
Having these labels applied have the effect of making you feel unlovable and/or unworthy and undeserving of love. They are mostly untrue. Needless to say, stop putting yourself down with negative labels. Avoid limiting yourself with them.
Labels essentially come from thought. Since you can create thought, you can also choose to use more positive words instead. You can use descriptions such as “brave”, “unique”, “worthy”, “lovable”, “strong” and so on.
When you support yourself with more positive self-talk , it becomes easier to raise your vibrations. You feel more empowered. From calling yourself a “success” on the inside, you find yourself magnetizing greater success into your life.
“If you want to reach a state of bliss, then go beyond your ego and the internal dialogue. Make a decision to relinquish the need to control, the need to be approved, and the need to judge. Those are the three things the ego is doing all the time. It’s very important to be aware of them every time they come up.” – Deepak Chopra