Who here, among us, ‘defines’ themselves in terms of their ‘weakest’ parts? I know I do. Sometimes, anyway. More than certainly serves me, I’ll say.
Which is why I’ve been recently thinking about the labels we give ourselves – and others, for that matter. Smart. Dumb. Introverted. Extroverted. Me. You. Us. Them.
Why do we do that? What purpose do they serve?
Labels Simplify Our Worldview
Life’s complex. So if I can simplify it, in any way – like reducing the intricacies of an entire human being down to one single word – well, that’d be helpful, right? Efficient, maybe, but not necessarily helpful.
Indeed, the more we get to know about someone – including ourselves – the harder it is to label them accurately. We’re all more than just one thing and any one label we use will likely mask all sorts of other attributes they help to define us – and others – more accurately.
Labels ‘Complexify’ Our Worldview
It’s ironic, but true. the labels we use to simplify things often end up inadvertently complicating them – especially when we choose labels for ourselves that make us feel ‘less than’ and ‘not enough’.
Think about the language you use to privately describe yourself If you’re like most, there’s at least one part of yourself that you feel a little shame about. Don’t fret, it’s natural.
My point is that whatever words or terms you use to describe yourself in that way is a bad idea.
You see, labeling your WHOLE-self based on any particular ‘lesser’ part is not only inaccurate, but it’s doing your self-esteem a grave disservice – the WHOLE of you is, indeed, much, much more than just that one slice of the pie.
“Smart, Capable, AND Learning”
I won’t try to convince you to stop labeling yourself. (Not sure I could.) But if you’re going to give yourself a label, at least make it one that doesn’t deflate your esteem.
According to Nathaniel Branden, author of The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, self-esteem is:
- confidence in our ability to think, confidence in our ability to cope with the basic challenges of life; and
- confidence in our right to be successful and happy, the feeling of being worthy, deserving, entitled to assert our needs and wants, achieve our values and enjoy the fruits of our efforts.
“With high self-esteem,” he writes, “I am more likely to persist is the face of difficulties. With low self-esteem, I am more likely to give up or go through the motions of trying without really giving it my best. The value of self- esteem” lies not merely in the fact that it allows us to feel better but that it allows us to live better – to respond to challenges and opportunities more resourcefully and more appropriately.”
I’ll be writing more about self-esteem in the near future. In the meantime, though, let me suggest that you go order a pizza and think about what this means to you.
“You better cut the pizza in four pieces
because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.”
– Yogi Berra