Find Your Self-Worth
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In Philip C. McGraw’s book called Self Matters, he references a chapter about labeling. Labeling is a not only something you say to yourself inside your head with your critical voice, but it is also something that others say about you. Labeling has a powerful influence over your psychological development. It can define your self-worth.
Labeling can be living in your subconscious. Labels come from the outside world and inside your mind. Your labels are important because it is the inner core of what you believe about yourself. “Label” means a term of classification. However, you could benefit from looking at these labels to understand your self-worth.
Labels are Judgments
Labels are judgments of self. They crystallize a type of self-characterization. Labels allow someone else to define you based on a personal, perhaps biased perception. You either allow others’ labels to creep inside your head to become a form of self-characterization. Do you beat yourself up by listening and believing what others are assuming about you?
Whether labels are true or not, there is a certain self-fulfilling prophecy that happens with labeling. When you pay attention to labels, there is a prediction that is somewhat made. That prediction can lead you to continue with those types of credits or continue to live life in that manner.
Labeling From When We Were Young
Unfortunately, labeling becomes more popularized in grade school and high school. Teenagers are notorious when it comes to labeling. Ask any teenager about the different types of ‘social groups’ in their school and more than likely they will be able to point out the nerds, jocks, hipsters, emos and gamers. A label, even in these contexts, has a certain type of emotional charge associated with it. It is not just a way to describe someone but it is also accusatory or full of assumptions. It lumps people into a certain category, with a classification whereby assumptions or stereotypes are made.
Classic examples of the labels are, “I’m stupid,” “I am a loser,” I’m hopeless,” “I’m worthless,” “I’m unlovable,” “I’m fat,” or “I’m ugly.” Labels when termed towards others include those terribly damaging messages stated above but include even more name-calling. Examples are, “He’s a sissy,” “She’s a whore,” “You’re a player,” “She’s a butter-face.”
Let’s take an example of a girl who grew up in a family where her father was never around. She was a person who came from low socioeconomic status, had to buy clothes at thrift stores and had many brothers and sisters, therefore started working at age 14. She was sexually assaulted at age 15 at a party with her friends from school. In school, she was then criticized and labeled a “whore”. She continued to be called these names throughout her junior year and ultimately developed a low self-worth. As a result, she slept with multiple boys in high school and college. She continued to fulfill the prophecy of the labeling due to the ways she viewed her own self-image and her own self-worth. Later, she met a man who came from a different background. He had two, married parents who loved each other, volunteer-work history, a positive high school and college experience with good grades and he excelled at sports. He proved to have a high self-worth. They dated for about a month and into the relationship he observed her behaviors. He commented on her promiscuous attire and her flirtatious ways. She did not even notice these observable behaviors about herself. She saw the concern coming from her boyfriend and reflected on her past. She reached out for help by calling for counseling services whereby she started to understand her past and redefine her self-worth.
Labels Are Manipulations
Labels sometimes can be immersed into our subconscious without our knowing. They can be a burden. They can manipulate. Labels can make you think less of yourself. Labels can lead you down a path to where you don’t know how to come back from. To reiterate, these labels can be given to you by others or they can be created in your mind. Just like labels can be negative, they can be positive as well. You have to work very hard to identify labels inside your subconscious, acknowledge them and redefine them.
Redefine Your Labels
First, it is important to figure out what labels have been floating around in your subconscious. Make a list of labels you remember hearing about yourself or labels that you have stated over and over in your mind to yourself. You can even write down how that label makes you feel and what behaviors might have come out of a particular label. For example, if a girl was called fat at age 10, then she was bullied for it between ages 10-12, perhaps she then started practicing bulimia at age 12 through 16. The label is: “You’re fat”, the behavior is practicing bulimia and the feeling is hurt, sadness and feeling ‘less than’.
Next, acknowledge that you are not your label. Acknowledge you are not going to collaborate anymore with these labels that are in your mind. Instead, you are going to move forward and redefine yourself. Finally, write down new, more positive labels that describe nicer, more pleasant things about you and your character.
Labels can be positive. If you are someone who is nice and respectful to self and others, you can largely have internal dialogue and external dialogue building others and yourself up! These types of examples include, “I am deserving,” “I am lovable,” “I am worthy,” “I am gorgeous in my own way,” and “I am pleasantly attractive.” It is when the labels are damaging or negative that the script inside your head reads depressed, angry, ‘less than’. It is when the labels are uplifting and positive that the script then changes to read a happier, healthier message. More examples include: “I am a loving mother,” “I am a hard worker,” “I am a good friend to others.” Whatever labels you are moving on from, please take note that redefining new and more positive labels might push you to move out of your comfort zone. The only person who can rewrite your life script is you. It begins inside your head with redefining those inner manipulations that might have been holding you back for quite some time.