I met a friend for lunch the other day. My friend has a number of food restrictions right now. When our server came to take our order, my friend swiftly announced:
“Sorry, but I’m going be high maintenance…”
From across the table I could see the server immediately tense up in that way you do when you are preparing for an annoying battle.
Ultimately the server did a great job with us and my friend was very nice about the needs. But it got me thinking about the labels we affix to ourselves, how we live up to those labels, how they encompass us and ultimately influence the way others then see us.
When I was in the deep, dark times of my persistent pain, I could only see myself as a person with a chronic pain label. Someone with major limitations. Old. Heavy. A burden. I played the victim role.
The more I said these things, whether out loud or to myself, the more I really believed them and consequently the deeper I sank.
While on the outside we may not like having a label, whether it be chronic pain, high maintenance, over-weight or whatever, but letting go of that label may also mean letting go of your identity. Even if you don’t like that identity, it has still become a part of you; maybe even comforts you in a way. Think of an old pair of running shoes that are completely worn out, you know they aren’t good for you to run and may even be causing you pain but the idea of breaking in a new shoe (or identity) sounds uncomfortable and daunting.
So how do we begin to let go of these labels… even if there are momentarily true?
Limiting Beliefs are those which constrain us in some way, they work much in the way giving yourself a label does.
“I’m not smart enough”
“Things don’t some easy to me”
“I’m a procrastinator”
“I’m not creative”
“I have chonic pain”
‘I can’t lose weight”
If you can beat, or at least challenge, your limiting beliefs and let go of your labels you will empower yourself to accomplish more!
“Take away labels and you are the infinite being.”
Ok, sure, that is all fine and good. But how do we actually ‘let go’ of our labels?
Gain awareness. I think it’s important to recognize what you are saying/thinking first and foremost. Then recognize that whatever you are dealing with right now is an experience, one that can have an end point.
It’s also important to not worry about what others think, that is for them to deal with, not you. I know that can be easier said than done, but think about it this way: you get to decide how others make you feel.
Begin incorporating mantras and affirmations.
I feel a few of you cringing as you read those words; this doesn’t need to be or feel woo-woo! I know, I know, those words felt a bit ‘out-there’ for me when I first started with these. Just let that go; honestly, just decide now that you are going to do what you need to for you. That’s it. And if you think your friends, family or others around will make fun of you…. don’t tell them. Again, it can be that simple. Just say them to yourself over and over again. Here’s a few examples or make up your own:
- I am not controlled by my pain
- I love my body and I know my body is doing the best it can for me
- Pain does not define me
- I am creative
- My weight does not define me
Getting back to my lunch that started this. My friend and I discussed the ‘high-maintenance’ label. Just because you need to ask a few more questions than other customers, does that automatically mean you have to put a label on yourself? And one that carries such a negative connotation? After all, isn’t the server there to help you with your order? (NOTE- you still have to be NICE about your needs!!)
Take your time and just be aware of how you see yourself. We are often hardest on ourselves so maybe it’s time to be a little nicer to yourself.
Don’t expect changes to happen overnight. Just begin to hear yourself, and then see if you can shift that comment/thought/label. One thought at a time.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”