The Limitations of “Labels”

“ADHD”, “Depression”, “Autism”, “Sensitive”, “Addict”, “Introverted”, etc.  Common labels, yes? However, labels are inherently limiting.  Sometimes a medical professional applies them, other times it is people we respect or look up to. Once that label is accepted, the tendency is to forfeit responsibility and control and accept defeat.  It’s like a big weight that’s been placed around your neck.  Take ADHD for example.  I have a colleague “Kevin”, who has been diagnosed with ADHD.  Here’s the thing:  This comes up in a confession-like statement in virtually every conversation we have.  He even commented that his medication hardly even works.  Well how crappy must Kevin feel each day knowing, not only that he’s often seen as loud and hyper by others, but that this is the improved effect of being medicated for the disorder.  If the watered down version of Kevin is annoying, what is the unmedicated version?  What if, instead, Kevin was “diagnosed” with being a highly creative, social creature that thrives in ever-changing environments but could benefit from some organizational tools?  What if Kevin just needed friendly reminders to lower his voice yet was rewarded for being caring and funny and interested in others?  Visually, do you think these two versions of Kevin would carry themselves differently?  One with shame, the other with pride?

Let’s take someone who has battled addiction.  Twelve-Step Programs are great, however, some addicts get stuck on Step 1: “We admitted we are powerless over the addiction.”  OK, great, but if the pole dancing on the tent pole of cousin Jane’s outdoor wedding in June wasn’t indicative, I could have told you that forever-ago! This is often followed by, “Well, addiction is a DISEASE!”  Oooohhhhhh, why didn’t you say so?? By ‘disease’ you mean, out of your control? Not your fault? Little you can do about it? I’m not saying there isn’t scientific evidence to support some labels and their limitations, however, they have a tendency to suck the control out of a situation.  I have a beautiful, wonderful, badass friend who has been diagnosed with several debilitating “disorders” and yet she could kick the butt of everyone I know on her WORST day! She doesn’t doubt the accuracy of the diagnoses, but she doesn’t allow them to drive her bus! They are uninvited passengers, but they are NOT the ones in control. They do not define who she is. Those unaware of her struggles would never know.  She inspires them to be their best selves as she leads them towards greatness.  She pushes them through emotional and physical limits to show them the power and control they have over their own bodies and minds.  She does this WHILE suffering the effects of her own labels.

When someone of authority, like a physician or specialist, gives us that label, it’s much easier to buy-in to all the limitations of it.  I mean it’s science, right? But nothing is more powerful than the mind and sheer will of a human being.  Why not focus on what you CAN do and not on what you (potentially) CAN’T?  Perhaps if you do things IN SPITE of the labels others have given, or rename it to reflect your strengths, you can conquer the world. Sound crazy? How about you throw that “Crazy” label out and replace it with “Bold”, doesn’t it immediately sound more possible?

Have you “conquered” a label and would like to inspire others? Leave a comment on this post, sharing your wisdom!  If you have a label that’s held you down and you don’t want to allow it full control any longer, send me a message on my “Contact Me” page and together we can find ways to take back the steering wheel of your life!  Don’t allow ANY label to define who you are.

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email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

Comments

  1. Nicely done..

    Won’t it be amazing when we STOP – LOOK – LISTEN..

    We are very comfortable with positive labels. We read food labels and make food choices based on knowledge. We celebrate labels based on education, promotions and good will!!

    If we all stop for just a minute before we make that judgement and instead offer words of kindness.. just imagine how great we can all become!!

  2. That’s a beautiful message Chris! Thanks for sharing!!

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