“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me,” goes the children’s mantra, but it’s not necessarily true. If you don’t value the opinion of the labeller, and you’re secure in your own identity and self-worth, then yes, the labels won’t stick. If, however, you have a deep fear it is true and/or the labeller has a title or role you give credibility to, then the names, or labels, can wield enormous power and devastate lives.
Psychologist vs Paedophile
Just think about the difference in this example. Imagine you heard a psychologist say a 6-year-old girl is wicked and in need of discipline, of being punished if you will. It’s likely you would imagine she’s quite a nasty wild child who’s totally out of control. Now imagine you hear a known paedophile say exactly the same thing, the little girl is wicked and needs punishing. Does that make your skin crawl, and you fear for the girl’s safety? I hope so.
My client used to be that little girl and her psychologist was also a paedophile. We successfully cleared so much pain, anxiety, shame and guilt, reconstructing a positive self-identity for her, yet there was still an unknown last block in the way. Then I realised the missing key was in the label. “The psychologist” has significant credibility, and that was how she was still referring to him, even though he had been exposed and banned from practice. The conscious relabelling of him as “the paedophile” immediately stripped him of credibility and power. The key turned and she’s free.
Stubborn vs Tenacious
Being tenacious and determined are character strengths until someone doesn’t like you challenging their opinion and persisting with your goal, and then you become “stubborn” or “pig-headed”. Think about each negative label you have about yourself and get curious about who slapped it on your forehead in the first place, and why. Consider what the positive labels for those traits could be, such as “slow” could also be “careful”, “methodical”, “deep thinker”.
Remember self-talk is self-programming, so the labels you believe and repeat to yourself will be self-fulfilling prophecies. If you don’t like your current habits or opinion of yourself, then change your labels and live up to the new labels rather than down to the old. If that’s a struggle then there are some deep level beliefs we need to change first.
Oh, and please be aware of how you are labelling the children in your life, yours or otherwise.
Mum vs Mary
There are so much emotion and story wrapped up in the words Mum, Mom, Mother, Mummy, that it can be extremely useful to actually stop using it in certain circumstances. Numerous clients over the years have struggled with their relationships because they work in a family business. Calling your parents by their first names, or more formally if that is the company culture, at work and whenever discussing work issues will enable you to enjoy Mum and Dad relationships the rest of the time. Clash with Mary at work but love and accept Mum at home.
If dementia has appeared in your mother and you no longer recognize that woman who is driving you crazy, particularly if she’s your adopted mother as in the case of one client, calling her by her first name will give you emotional breathing space. Instead of struggling to make her into your old mum or the mum you wished you had, and being hurt by her behaviour, she can become that elderly neighbour you feel sorry for and help because you are a kind person. Yes, you’ll need to grieve the loss of your mum, but sadly dementia has already swept her away.
My Baby vs My Son
If you are still referring to your youngest as your baby, and he is out of nappies, STOP. You are building a disempowering unconscious blueprint of him, and it will impact negatively on your relationship. He will either resist and resent, whether obviously or not, or live down to your expectations and play the role of the baby in your family, never becoming the man you can be truly proud of. It’s Nature’s way for babies to grow up and leave home to live independent lives. Be proud your job is done. If you need help to redefine your own identity and create a life for you, then ask for that help. You’ll be role-modelling positively for your children and grandchildren, friends and colleagues.
Likewise, and I used to be guilty of this, referring to your sibling as your “little brother” rather than “younger brother”, or better still, “brother”, hinders the development of a healthy adult relationship. People generally don’t need to know what order you were born in. If you are still rescuing your little brother, then that doesn’t serve him or you really. If you believe we are given lessons in life to learn, then stepping in to rescue (however well-meaning) means they have to get another messy lesson, and another, until you step out and allow the lesson to be learnt.
Sometimes the very best way to help someone is to say, “No.”
My Cancer vs The Cancer
There are pros and cons of labelling an illness or disease “my”. The danger is that it becomes part of your identity, how you define and live your life, and your life shrinks to the size of the label. On the other hand, if you are living in your personal power, claiming it as “my” then gives you the power to deal with it any way you please, even seek out underlying emotional causes and find ways to heal that best suit your body.
Referring to it as “the cancer” or “the migraine” disassociates you, so the illness or disease becomes something that doesn’t belong. You don’t have an emotional attachment, so it becomes easier to make healing decisions that work best for your life and body. Because it isn’t part of you, doesn’t belong, it can leave at any time. You don’t need to “fight” it, that creates tension and hinders your body’s own healing abilities. Instead, you can focus on encouraging it to move on by tapping into whatever resources you choose to seek out for your mind, body and spirit.
So, words can break you as easily as sticks and stones, if you are not aware of their power. Now you are aware, put your awareness to good use, for yourself and others, at home and at work. If you need help to change disempowering habits and self-beliefs, to mend relationships and heal pain, please reach out and ask for help. Life is too short to spend being unhappy and less than the best you possible.
For an exploration of unconscious blueprints™ and how they programme your results in all areas of your life, dip into my book “The Face Within: How To Change Your Unconscious Blueprint”. Available in Australia from www.SueLester.com and worldwide from all great online bookstores.