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Monday, March 28, 2011

Labels = Limits

Lately, I've been noticing how I've sometimes limited myself by using too many labels. A word like "mainstream", for example, might not strike many as limiting. But when I begin to uncover the stories that go with many labelling words, I've learned something valuable. 

Let me use "mainstream" as just one example. An author many people enjoy is Stephen King and for years I thought of King as mainstream; he refers to himself that way. After recently devouring his 2000 memoir ("On Writing"), I recognized how that label had, for me, a story associated with it. And the story that went with that word had made me foolishly avoid King for many years. Although I can cite other examples from my experience, I'd like to hear which labelling words you use or once used that limit you.

Equally important, what happens when you consider how the labels you use can potentially limit others, especially those you love? To take just one example, how about the label "shy"?     

1 comment:

  1. I know this is a bit off from your main idea but it is similiar to labeling and that is using politically correct language to disguise the truth-like when something means death or killing and we call it something mysterious and fog it over with a mist of words that can mean many things.

    For instance, when Sect of State Clinton referred to the actions we were going to take in Libya she kept referring to "our unique capabilities". No mention of military might or bombs (God forbid). Of course what Clinton was meaning was Tomahawk missles that blow things up including people as our unique capabilities.

    Labeling affects children most as they develop. Usually by adulthood any labels inflicted on another don't stick unless the person is very very insecure and confused. Believe me, I've tried to label people to get them to change or limit their behavior-never worked.