The other day I was at the gym, about to take a class, just biding my time on the treadmill until it was time to line up and find my space on the floor of the yoga studio.
As I waited, I overheard a fellow gym member approach the person on the treadmill next to mine and say to her friend, "You going to yoga? You know, that instructor's kid is SUCH a bully."
The Impact of Labels
She proceeded to go on and on, badmouthing the poor yoga teacher's kid, providing little details of skirmishes on the playground and disputes in the classroom. I was struck with an immediate sense of defensiveness for this poor "bully" kid, and I had never met any of these people— including the yoga instructor/mom— in my life! I didn't think it was fair to label this child a bully, and I certainly didn't feel that circulating that information in such a tone and manner was going to make matters any better.
Of course, I recognize bullying as a major problem in schools today. I don't argue that one bit. But, I have to admit, I had a hard time imagining a kindergarten child having developed full-bully-status, and I was saddened by the thought of how that might follow her around for the rest of her elementary school years— or longer.
Later on, I got to wondering why it all bugged me so much. Was it that I'd just read an article on moral development in kids, and how if your toddler goes through a hitting and biting stage, it doesn't mean he's an immoral, evil little child? (#truefear)... Or, do I simply have a hidden bias that all yoga teachers raise peaceful, love&light-filled children, and that this complaining parent must just have an ax to grind? Or was I just projecting my own stuff onto the situation at hand?
If you've ever been slapped with a label that's followed you around for a while, you know the power it can have over yourself and others. "The quiet one," "the ditz," "the pushover," "the bitch," "the know it all," "the bully," you name it. There are plenty of confining, hurtful, inaccurate labels for everyone out there. We humans love our labels.
Explore Your Past and Break Free:
If you are finding that you are stuck in certain areas of your life, be curious about this question: where in your life have you been labeled a certain way (by yourself or others) that does not resonate with who you really are? Are you still carrying remnants of that label around? Journal, make some art. Explore. Give your self some compassion. Celebrate breaking free of the labels.
If you're interested in working with Jessica Gada, LCPAT, ATR-BC, LCPC, click here for a free 15-minute phone consultation.