Tossing Off Unfair “Labels”


Never say anything about yourself you do not want to come true.

Brian Tracy

I’m not sure how many books I’ve read in my life, but I know it’s been a lot. Of all the books I’ve read, my favorite title is “The Mad Woman’s Underclothes,” a little- remembered Germaine Greer book of essays. It also contains one of my favorite sentences ever: “It is the quality of daily life that matters most.

What makes for the quality of daily life? Well, it can easily be argued – good food, good drink and good friends. And I’d also add, “good words.”

My work is grounded in the conviction that the quality of our life is in direct proportion to the quality of the communication in our life. While much of my work is focused on helping folks learn how to communicate with others in smart, healthy ways, I recently was reminded that how we communicate with our own individual self is just as important.

Ned (names changed) is a new client who hired me because he realizes that if he’s going to advance in his field, he needs to hone his interpersonal skills. In our first meeting, Ned told me that he wants to become more confident. By session’s end, though, I was confused because he enthusiastically spoke of how he enjoys socializing with new people, exploring new venues and finding ways to push his comfort zone. He presented himself with a warm, engaging confidence.

I reminded Ned that while there are situations in which he wants to speak and act with more surety and agility, he already is a man who has considerable confidence. He’s a man who takes risks, is not afraid of people different from him and who successfully navigates a particular business world that is exacting in its demand for accuracy. Ned is demeaning himself when he says, “I’m not confident.”

A mystic of old wrote that, “Dark words hobble the soul.”

I love that word “hobble” for it captures how unfair words of criticism can trip us up. And Ned has been tripping himself up with the label, “unconfident”.

Ned’s first challenge is to toss off the self-imposed label that inaccurately describes who he is. He’s a confident man who wants to expand the areas in his life where he acts from a place of confidence.

The act of tossing off the label will actually give him confidence as he comes into a fuller understanding of who he is and who he wants to be.

That’s what living a life of quality is all about!

What about you?

What inaccurate labels do you attach to yourself?

What’s stopping you from tossing them off?


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