How do you define yourself? What labels have you been given that you’ve learned to accept? Who do you compare yourself to? These are important questions that aren’t discussed often enough.
The way we label and define ourselves affects who we become. We are often defined by layers of labels that we began accumulating before we could talk – the fat one, the smart one, the pretty one, stubborn, bossy, little hellion … the list goes on.
As we grow, we begin to label ourselves. Some of our labels are positive. Some are negative.
I believe deeply that these labels, positive and negative, create our reality. I always try to keep it positive, but I encountered a reality check recently. I became aware of a negative label I had assigned myself.
First a little backstory. We believe that having a healthy body as you age begins today. Whether you’re 17 or 77, your enjoyment of future activities depends on how you treat your body now. Because of this, we’ve had a daily fitness routine for many years. In the summer, cycling is a big part of that routine. My schedule this year has been three days on the bike, one day off.
In addition to cycling, we enjoy other outdoor adventures. One of the things we really enjoy is hiking. Unfortunately, we only have time for hiking excursions while traveling. Only hiking a couple times each year means that I always end up with blisters.
This year I decided I was going to get used to my hiking boots by hiking Minnehaha Park on my off days. On my first hike, I finished the loop from our house, to the river and back to the falls in less than twenty minutes. Needing to put more time on the clock, I began running up and down the stairs.
On my fourth trip up the stair, I noticed a group of trail runners. I’m not a runner so I stopped and let them go first. HUGE MISTAKE! They were so slow. I felt like I was crawling up the steps.
It occurred to me that I had given myself a label that was untrue. I always told myself (and others) that I’m not a runner. The truth is that I’m stronger and faster than many of the runners out there. This makes me wonder what other labels I have given myself that I’m not recognizing.
What label have you grasped on to that’s holding you back? What “runners” are you comparing yourself to?
Here’s another way to look at it. What do you want to be? What goals do you have? Are you giving yourself the proper label to achieve it?
We can’t reach our full potential until we write better definitions for ourselves. If you want to get in shape, stop labeling yourself as a fat person. If you want to get your finances in order, stop saying you’re broke. If you want to make new friends, stop telling yourself that no one likes you.
Starting today, begin rewriting your definitions and labels. Stop comparing yourself to others and focus on your own progress. Then make a habit of it. The whole fake it until you make it mentality works. Check out this TED Talk to learn how.
Tell me who you are in the comments below! What are your new labels and definitions?
Remember that we become what we label ourselves.