but they tell us how to treat ourselves.
We are a society that puts labels on everything. Sometimes the labels read â€średuced,â€ť and â€śdefective.â€ť Not only do we put labels on products but we put them on ourselves and others.
Some of the labels we put on others and ourselves are â€śalcoholic,â€ť or some psychological disorder. The danger is letting that label define who we are instead of what we are dealing with. Research by Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson show that even checking a box to indicate your race or sex can trigger the stereotype in your mind and lower your test score.
Negative stereotypes say: â€śYou and your group are permanently inferior.â€ť
Some of the labels are placed on us and some we give ourselves. Many of these labels tell others how to treat us. The negative labels read, â€śdonâ€™t get close,â€ť â€śdonâ€™t include me,â€ť â€śdefective,â€ť â€śvictim,â€ť â€śfailure,â€ť â€śarrogant,â€ť and more. Not only do labels tell others how to treat us but they tell us how to treat ourselves.
I liked how Karen, my wife, has always approached labels and categories. As a child she never liked coloring between the lines. This attitude has spilled over into applications and forms like we find at a doctorâ€™s office or hospital. I saw her filling out an application and noticed she was making new categories with new boxes to be checked. Then I noticed that if the form gave her two choices, she came up with a third one! She did not like the labels because they were restrictive and did not apply.
When we purchase something that has a label that reads, â€śAs is,â€ť we know that the product has flaws and is not perfect. We buy it knowing that the product has a lot more positive qualities than whatever the defect is. I think the best label we can attach to ourselves is â€śas is.â€ť We are telling others to accept us with imperfections because we do.
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700
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