Just as our clothes have labels that identify the garment, we too give ourselves labels. Quickly, what was the last label you gave yourself? And if you can’t remember chances are you did it automatically, without awareness. A label can be anything from a disparagement to a judgment, the unhelpful things we say to ourselves when stressed, under pressure, or feeling emotional.
Dangers of labels
The danger of a label is it sticks! So by saying “I’m this or that” creates an unconscious note in your head. Having created the label, it hangs over you, creating a barrier that prevents you from moving beyond it… it keeps you stuck.
Mindfulness helps you bring awareness to the communication you use, the put-downs that come so easily these days, and the belittling of your own character. We are the hardest on ourselves when it comes to meeting higher and higher expectations, always playing catch up in a 24/7 connected world.
Try this instead of judging
The next time something happens where you would normally judge yourself on, stop! Take a few gentle breaths in and out and become aware of your thoughts. Close your eyes for a moment, and just focus on your breathing, take a mental step back.
What do you notice?
This simple act of awareness of your reactive thoughts is the first step on the path to removing negative labels that keep you shackled to the past or overwhelmed by the future. The present moment is the only place to be.
Tips to prevent judgemental thoughts
- Practice catching yourself as you label or judge yourself or others.
- Practice daily mindfulness to be more aware of the quality of your mind.
- Find ways to incorporate meditation into your modern lifestyle.
- Take inventory of the labels you have created for yourself and actively work to remove their identification from yourself.
- Practice kindness and compassion so you can set these as your default reactions instead of judgment.