3 Ways Labels Keep You Stuck in Life
Society gives us labels, and those labels can hold you back. They can keep you from living your own truth, and they can keep you from being healthy and happy. Even our pets have labels!
Meet Bubba and His Labels
While I’ve been transitioning from a full-time mother to an empty-nester, I decided I needed a third man in my life. Enter Bubba. Some of you have been following me on Facebook and Instagram and have already met Bubba. You can see his beautiful face in the nearby picture. Pretty cute, huh?
I’m not just a doting mamma to Bubba. I’m also his student. I want to share a profound lesson that I’ve learned from this funny-looking 45 pound prince of mine.
For years, I’ve been sharing with my followers the benefits of living in the present and not pushing too far into the future or even looking over your shoulder into the past. After my transition into becoming an empty-nester and moving out of the comfort of the home where I raised my children, I can honestly share that I’m not so sure I was walking that talk of living in the present as truthfully as I am in the progress or practice of being in the present.
This is where Bubba comes in.
Bubba is an English Bulldog, and English Bulldogs come with a long list of labels like lazy, fat, out of shape, always tired, slow, and kind of ugly. People tell me, “Oh, he’s so cute, he’s ugly!” And the list goes on – short lifespan, really heavy breather, a snorer, and fast eater. People even say English Bulldogs aren’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. Poor Bubba has a lot of labels!
Stop and Think of Your Labels
I want to hit the pause button on my Bubba story and ask you to think about what your labels are. What labels have you put on yourself or have others put on you in your life? Keep that in the forefront of your mind, because I’m going to come back to it later in this article.
Now, back to Bubba’s story…
Putting Bubba’s Labels to the Test
I was aware of Bubba’s labels, and I felt it was my job to bust this myth about bulldogs. Bubba became part of the Meister family, which is a very active family. Bubba’s “labels” just wouldn’t do.
Step one in my plan to bust the bulldog myth: walking. Here I have Bubba, this funny-faced dog, and I decide that I want him to be part of this family that is always on the move. We move fast, exercise, and take care of ourselves. Part of taking care of myself is taking walks. I’m known to walk really fast, so here I get Bubba and put this noose around his neck. I think this dog is going to walk next to me and follow me because I don’t want him to have this crazy label of being lazy, fat, or out of shape.
I figured, he’s young. I can get him to do what I want. He has this noose around his neck and I start walking down the block. And what do you think happens to Bubba? He braces himself with all four feet and pulls back. He refuses to walk. Now, no one had told me that bulldogs have another label – stubborn.
I’m coaxing him, “Come on, Bubba. Let’s go.” He’s pulling one way. I’m pulling the other way, and I think to myself, “This dog is not doing what I want!” I give in and say, “Okay, this is done. We’ll try tomorrow because we’re going to practice this, Bubba.”
The next day arrives and I put a noose around Bubba’s neck again. I pull him as hard as I can, and he pulls back as hard as he can. He wins again.
3 Ways Labels Keep You Stuck in Life
Bubba taught me some important lessons from our “walks” that I want to share with you. Bubba isn’t aware of the labels human beings have put on him. Labels are irrelevant to him and his behavior proves that. As humans, we are aware of the labels society puts on us and they matter to us. But those labels are holding you back. Here are three ways labels are negatively affecting you:
I learned that Bubba has the ability to do anything when he’s not pushed. I was putting my pressure, the way I think, and my expectations of how I thought Bubba should behave on him. He has no idea that there are labels on him that he should want to break. He’s content.
Labels come with expectations. One cannot live without the other. Whether the labels were created by you or by others and whether the expectations are yours or other people’s, they’re holding you back. Imagine what you could accomplish if you broke free of those labels and the expectations that come with them.
I was pulling and pulling Bubba and he was resisting against what I wanted him to do. Slowly, I was able to get Bubba as a practice to move with me, but what Bubba taught me is that he has his own way. He’ll walk, but he walks slowly. He’ll walk, and when he sees friends, he’ll stop to say, “Hello.” He’ll walk, and when he breathes too heavily, he’ll take a breath – a long, deep breath.
Our natural reaction to labels and the expectations that come with them is to resist because we feel like we’re being pushed. Like Bubba, if we’re not pushed, we can do anything. Until you can break free of labels, you’ll constantly be resisting and you’ll be stuck in life.
3. Living Others’ Stories
Every one of us is born with a clean slate, but in time, we take on the habits and patterns from our families, from our jobs, our spouses, children, and the outside world. We begin to live other people’s stories based on the labels that we put on ourselves and that others put on us throughout our lives. We’re never that clean slate again.
We’re not living our own stories because our truth is there and our brilliance is underneath all of the labels we’ve collected over the years. We’re stuck and our own selves can’t come out. Until you shed your labels and stop living others’ stories, you’ll experience negatives effects on your physical and emotional wellbeing.
Your Lesson and Next Steps
Things didn’t work out exactly how I thought they would with Bubba, but he taught me something profound in my life. When you can actually take your labels off and begin to practice being naked in who you really are, that’s the place where life happens.
Stay tuned for my next blog post where I’ll teach you how to get unstuck from the labels once and for all!