Just when I think I've got myself all figured out -- labeled, packaged, and ready to go -- my counselor comes along and peels off the label, causing me to reexamine the package of me. Ever since the day I was blaming myself for something and she observed that blame is an avoidance tool, I've been thinking about that along with other avoidance tools. Like labels.
Labels help us to understand things which cannot speak for themselves, like a jar of pasta sauce or a running shoe. When applied to people, labels replace relationships with prejudice. And when I apply a label to myself, I turn myself into a finished product with no opportunity for growth or change.
I ate a cookie because it was the last one in the package and I told myself that I was Obsessive. No doctor ever diagnosed me, but I found those labels which would give me an excuse for everything I didn't like about myself. I hid behind them, falsely safe.
I labeled myself as fat, so I wouldn't go to the gym. I labeled myself as unloveable, so I wouldn't reach out to others. I labeled myself as awkward, so I wouldn't dance at weddings. I labeled myself as ugly, so I wouldn't smile.
But labels have an achilles heel: the adhesive. Sometimes the adhesive wears off and the label starts to peel away. Sometimes, like a bandage, it starts to itch and I just want to rip it off.
It's a little scary to not have myself all wrapped and labeled like a gift under the tree, but there is joy in discovering the gift within.