So many labels in life.  Labels on our clothes. Our shoes. Our handbags. Our food. Very often, we’ll choose one particular product over another, simply because of the label.  We believe what’s on the outside, will determine what’s on the inside. When given a choice between generic, an unpopular label or designer label, we want the latter. This goes for food, sneakers or a pair of yoga pants; even if they cost more.  And if we have to settle for the generic or lesser known, cheaper product, we often believe we are settling for something less than the best.  Labels can make us feel better, make us believe we look better and sometimes make us think we are better – better than others. And if we can’t get or afford certain labels, we think we still haven’t arrived and we’ll keep striving to get there. And, we consider other people better or less than us by the labels they’re wearing, using or carrying.

We’ve been conditioned to think this way. By society and advertising.. Some things are definitely better quality, better looking and better tasting than others.  If I am going to buy something, I want the best.  And I like fine things. I’ve some got expensive designer label stuff in my clothes closet and around the house. And some of the best quality foods stocked in my pantry. I used to be a whole lot more into all that than I am now, though, because my lifestyle has changed. My career has changed. I’ve changed. And for quite some time, I simply couldn’t afford those expensive labels any longer, so I had to learn to economize or do without.  I am grateful that now I can afford to splurge on something really great occasionally, but not being able to do that was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I had an opportunity to try different things and actually like them. I was also forced to stop wrapping my whole identity around so many of the labels I considered to be the best or made me better.  Because, once I stripped that all away, what was left? Just me.  So, I got busy working on me…...

I had to learn to be comfortable and confident with who I am, who I am not, and to work with what I’ve got. That’s when I realized I really could influence others and motivate them to change their lives. Simply by being ME. There isn’t a fancy label handbag, pair of shoes, car, jar of food, or prestigious title that can possibly do that.  

 Don’t misunderstand me. I am not necessarily knocking labels, but I do want to draw attention to the ways labels influence us. Not just concerning what we buy, carry, wear, use, drive and so on, but when it comes to people. We judge each other and ourselves by our labels. And very often, it’s more about the label than who we or others really are. The label defines us rather than us defining the label.

We label ourselves Christians, Atheists, Conservatives, Liberals, vegans, coaches, entrepreneurs, bosses, successful, nice guys/girls, generous, caring, loving…. The list goes on and on.  And those labels determine whom we will choose to befriend, date, love, hire or trust.  And we believe the labels we attach to ourselves will influence others to choose us over somebody else.  However, they’re just labels and, for the most part, meant to impress. They really don’t mean all that much. We know this, but yet we still rely heavily on them. If someone is trying to make an impression, win our heart or take our money, they certainly won’t assign themselves a bad label. And if they aren’t really genuine, they’ll make themselves sound too good to be true, with all the best labels and that, right there, could be our sign to pay closer attention. We need to listen to how people talk about themselves; especially those who want something from us.  If they rattle on and on about how wonderful they are, how successful they are, all their accomplishments, how good and generous, rich or religious they are; that’s a pretty good indication that something doesn’t quite measure up.  But, we often fall for it anyway and we’ll put our faith in that person or enter into relationships and business ventures based on words and labels alone.  This is how we end up getting hurt or lose valuable time, money, and our peace. Sometimes we’ll even put our own health and wellness at risk.

A label doesn’t make something so. A label is just a word. It’s what a person does that makes them who they are. – Heather Brewer

On the flip side, we’ll avoid certain people just because of a particular label. For instance, if we lean to the left politically, we might refuse to even listen to anyone who is conservative in their political views. Or maybe it’s someone of a different faith. Or a person with no particular faith or religious beliefs at all. Sometimes, we will immediately reject them because of those labels. We’re robbing ourselves when we do that because, despite their label, someone could possibly influence us in ways we’d never imagined or offer us an opportunity that changes our life. If we’re willing to put the labels aside, one of those people could turn out to be the love of a lifetime.

 And those labels we often place on ourselves and especially the ones we try squeeze into that don’t quite fit?  That’s what causes so much of our frustration, heartache and disappointment. And, people will eventually see right through the facade we’re trying to keep up. We can only fake it for so long before the jig is up.

Drop the labels. Just be who you are and allow who you are to be your calling card! 

Don’t be seduced by labels. Get to know people and who they are. Do your research, investigate, ask questions, and trust your gut instinct when it comes to deciding who to trust, do business with, date or marry, care for your children while you’re at work, etc.  Sometimes, the labels they go by are just words, so put them to the test. If something doesn’t feel quite right, it probably isn’t.  Look beyond what’s on the outside and see what’s inside.

With all the phony copies of designer label products out there these days, such as handbags, it’s really difficult to distinguish the fake one from the real. Some people are so familiar with the real thing, they can spot the phony bag in an instant.  For the rest of us, it’s a lot harder and we cannot tell the difference.

I once heard someone say the way to really know is to inspect the lining and the labels inside the bag.  A phony bag will never be as impeccably lined, stitched or as detailed inside as the genuine article. All the focus is on the outside and the label you can see to make you believe it’s authentic. Great advice that we can apply to when it comes to people, as well, don’t you think? 

Most importantly, don’t convince yourself that you need some sort of label in order impress others, earn their respect or make them listen to you. Never change who you are or squeeze yourself into a life that doesn’t fit just to be worthy of a particular label or to make people like, love, include or accept you, or hire you for your services. If you peel the label from a can of food – name brand or generic, you’re left with just a can. It’s what’s inside that makes the difference and that’s what determines if you’ll use it, like it, and go back to get some more. Same goes for every single one of us. We’re all the same. Strip away the labels and we’re body, mind and spirit. Nourish those parts of yourself. Get to know, love and accept who you are and who you are not. Then go share who you are with others.

Yours in happiness, health and success,