Unpeeling Our Labels

Dog with sign around neck

When we call a dog a ‘dog’, there is an implicit expectation that we are both in agreement with who/what a dog is.  But this is an incomplete communication of what a ‘dog’ means to each person in the conversation.  For example, for one – it is immediately associated with a soul friend, for another with fear and for yet another, it’s simply a four legged mammal that can be domesticated.  All of these views are equally valid and concurrently true for each one.   The point is that even when we think we are having a reasonable discussion around ‘facts’ or data points, we may be describing something completely different to each other and then wondering at the conflict.  The words are mere pointers that can easily mislead us without a sufficient acknowledgement of context.

The challenge of this is highlighted in the use of labels.  And let there be no mistake, ‘mother’, ‘friend’, ‘widow’, ‘divorcee’,  ‘doctor’, ‘teacher’,  etc…  are all often used as labels.  Convenient short forms used to convey a part of the story.  Superficial, if not totally misleading.  Because the details of that role can only be known to the individual living his or her own unique story.

The roles that we play also change from time to time, as we can never really be one thing all the time.  I have written about the fundamental flaw in type casting ourselves in “Through the Looking Glass“.   Realistically, for many of us, the willingness to step out of the need for any and all self definition may come slowly, perhaps at a later point in the journey.

But to proceed further on the path of freeing ourselves from unconsciousness, the questioning of definitions could be highly useful and may even be of burning relevance in many cases. Unexamined thoughts and implicit assumptions can be major contributors to the challenges you may be facing right now.  Because we assume there is one definitive norm to be lived up to, we battle expectations and judgments that (knowingly or unknowingly) influence our choices and behaviour.  In the attempt to fit in to the box defined for us, we embrace confusion and consequent frustration and exhaustion.

So here is an exercise that you could try:

  1. Keep some quiet time for yourself.
  2. Sit in silence for a few minutes, with your eyes closed.  Imagine as though you are breathing in and out of your heart.
  3. Select an area of your life that you are troubled about.
  4. Ask yourself, what is the label/defining description most commonly assigned to you in this context?  For example, it could be ‘a success’ or ‘a failure’ in the context of work, or ‘father’ or ‘son’ in the context of family, or  ‘entrepreneur’ or ’healer’ in the context of profession.  Select  the  term that comes foremost to your mind.
  5. Now reflect upon each of these questions, one at a time.  You may capture your answers on paper.
    • What does this term mean to me?
    • What does it really mean to the people immediately affected by my understanding of it?
    • Am I really comfortable with their version of it or do I need to clarify my own version of it?
    • If I gave myself the freedom to live ‘this’ in a way that is authentic to me, who would I be?  What would I be doing, what would I be saying, what would I look like?
    • What interpretation of this would bring me greater enthusiasm, energy and peace?
    • What prevents me from clarifying and adopting this new interpretation?  
    • What would it take to release those blocks?
  6. After you feel complete with these questions, close your eyes and visualize a violet flame. Now imagine you have all of your questions and answers written on a piece of paper that you release into this violet flame, holding the intention of ‘Purify’ in your heart.  The intent is to become neutral to all of this now.
  7. If there remains any residual emotional charge you can use the Access Clearing Statement or EFT to help clear whatever is left of it.

You may be surprised at the depth of insights and shifts that show up for you after this process.  Please write in with your experience and if you find it useful, please do share the process with others.

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11 thoughts on “Unpeeling Our Labels

  1. This is a lovely meditative exercise, thank you. Challenging the definition of reality as given us by language is explored in the excellent classic book, The Crack in the Cosmic Egg by Pearce.

  2. Very interesting thoughts makes one think. I feel it is our ‘inner-self’ that is real but it is invisible to the outside world and thus cannot be labelled.
    Thank you and regards. Cheers 🙂

  3. I enjoyed doing this process especially because I allow too many thoughts to remain unexamined until they overwhelm .
    Thankyou for this . Discovering bits of myself each day through your blog and writings

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