How Labels Limit Our Self-BeliefApr 29, 2021
This is a guest blog post by Trisha Lewis, Communication Coach, Actor & Author
Question your uninvited and self-stuck labels.
“Labels are for canned peaches, not for people.” Danielle Krysa
Believing that being yourself will not limit you is not as easy as it sounds. Every barrier to owning that belief must be forensically explored — and ‘labelling’ is one of these barriers.
Let’s take a brief look at the uninvited and self-stuck labels and how we can spot the limiting effects — so we are motivated to rip them off!
Labels stuck on by others.
How many times did you get labelled as you were growing up?
I am not saying your parents, friends and teachers were being deliberately unhelpful — they were just being human.
You will have used labelling to make a quick explanation of someone. You still do. You are human.
She’s the arty one.
She’s the sporty one.
She’s always been a tryer.
She is the genius of the class.
An extrovert through and through.
A shy soul.
You don’t want to cross her!
Some are more subtle than others — but you get the gist.
We all do it. Grouping people with labels makes things easier to manage in a confusing world.
So what’s the problem?
Personality is not a fixed thing.
Or is it?
You have heard the nature v nurture debate.
Professor Brian Little argues that you are born with a ‘biogentic self’ — you have personality traits from the moment you are conceived.
But — you can adopt ‘free traits’. This is when you ‘act out of character’.
Someone with the ‘introvert’ label/biogenetic self, might be motivated to be more extrovert in order to pursue something that matters to them.
Susan Cain warns that this free trait strategy can be ‘effective when used judiciously’ but ‘disastrous if overdone.’
But think beyond the nature v nurture and free- trait stuff — and look at the limiting nature of fixed labels.
Personality tests are not the answer to the question ‘who am I?’
Throughout history there have been attempts to measure personality.
Have you have ever taken a personality profile test thingy?
Maybe it was the ‘Myers-Briggs’ one?
This personality profile tool was conceived in the 1920s and was designed to bring the work of Carl Yung to the masses. It has since ‘taken on a life of its own’.
Is it helpful to label yourself for life based on those letters or colours that have been magically revealed to you?
You risk being sucked into the illusion of your fixed personality and run the risk of limiting your comfort-zone-stretchers and growth-enhancing-curiosity.
You accept the label and without consciously realising it — you think and act accordingly.
But it is not just others who stick those labels on you — you do it to yourself.
Labels you stick on yourself.
You don’t need others to label you when you are so skilled at doing it to yourself!
“I have never been any good at public speaking”.
“I am useless at sales.”
“I am not a business-y type.”
You might be saying — ‘but it is true!’
But every time you send that message to your brain and the world — you embed it and make it hard work to change it — or even question it.
Maybe you just haven’t explored ways of public speaking, selling or being in business — ways that feel aligned to you.
Exploring is at the core of these 3 label-removing, self-belief growing actions.
3 label-removing actions
- Reverse engineer. The stuff that frustrates you about yourself — what is going on? Unpack — and detect the influence of old labels.
- Question your definitions. ‘Business-y’ or ‘Sales-y’ — who says? Are you blindly going along with out-dated definitions? Are you taking on definitions given to you by society or ‘guru’s — and ignoring your own values?
- Put some new labels on! They don’t have to stay on — but give them a go. Get curious and step out of your comfort-zone. Learn!
Remember – labels are for cans of peaches, luggage and files – not humans. Have fun finding them, questioning them and gently peeling them off.
Trisha Lewis is a communication coach, actor and now author. She is on a mission to help small business owners get unsquashed and have impact as themselves. Her new book ‘The Mystery of the Squashed Self’ is now available on Amazon. The ‘identity’ issue is just one of the ‘self-squashers’ experienced by 8 female small business owners and explored with the help of Investigator Lewis and Professor P.
You can follow her for more tips and inspiration on
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