Throughout our lives we are given various ‘labels’ by those around us. Parents may call us clever, silly, lovely, bright, slow or hundreds of other terms in our developing years, based on what happens in that particular moment of our actions.
At school we may also be labelled according to particular lessons we are in, eg sport brings out labels such as brilliant, too slow, lazy, game player etc. Friends and peers also label us according to situations, such as friendly, moody, kind, awkward etc. These labels may or may not disappear in time, but further ones will be sure to occur throughout the rest of our lives, though we don’t always find out about them! Unfortunately, we have no control over these labels, but they can affect our lives and not always in a good way!
It is important to understand that these labels are shortcuts used to tell others what we are like by those who know us. We are judged by these labels which are often just off the cuff remarks, but it is important to realise they can, in certain circumstances, lead to psychological problems linked to self-esteem. So how do we know if it’s affecting us?
Firstly, make a list of all the social groups you are in, eg work, friends, siblings, children etc. and add all the labels they might use to label you. Look at the different ways they all describe you and circle all those you feel are a true description. How do you feel about these and the other descriptions? Maybe you feel happy about the results, but how can you change the way others see you?
We all need to understand that we even change the way we view ourselves, so a good place to start is to decide how you feel you would like others to see you. Writing this all down will help focus reality and help your end goal.
ACCEPT YOUR LIMITATIONS – maybe you are not good at cooking, look for simpler recipes or buy ready meals or get someone else to do the cooking for you. Not good at a certain sporting activity – choose another one or give it up! Don’t keep striving to be good at something you’re not good at as you will not only fail, but your self-esteem will take a further knock!
WORK OUT AT WHAT YOU DO BEST – singing - join a local choir. Outgoing – maybe join local amateur dramatic group. Writing - start sending letters, tips, advice etc to magazines. Whatever you do best will aid your self-confidence as well as letting others use more positive labels to describe you. Let others know about your achievements, it will help your self-confidence when they see you in a more positive light!
STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS – no one is good at everything. You accept failings in others, so why not accept them in yourself? Once you realise what you are good at and accept your limitations with the things that you’re not so good at, you will feel better in yourself and happier!