Labels

My soul friend has arrived!

Yesterday evening Todd and I went to the airport and picked up his best girlfriend from college who also happens to be one of my favorites. My soul was dancing inside my body the moment she joined us. We immediately began talking about books, and life, and all other things that felt good and right in the moment.

When we arrived home Todd and Lucy went to bed, he still has to work this week, but she and I stayed up. We talked all night until today became tomorrow and my heart felt full.

Our conversation was everything I love about a good conversation, it was deep, it was authentic, and it was limitless. One of the topics we broached had to do with how labels are problematic and how we both struggle with their existence.

It is the idea that instead of saying someone is a bad person it is often more accurate and kind to maybe say they had a bad moment. You did something bad, that does not mean you are bad. One is probably most compassionate just not to make the judgement at all, to maybe say nothing, or if you must say something let it be some form of I love you.

As a person who has been prescribed many labels without my permission I am well aware of how problematic labels can be. That does not mean I am always as mindful as I  could be though when it comes to placing labels on others.

Last week I deleted two people from my FB account because in my head I labeled them. Here is what is maybe closer to the truth in both of these cases, neither of these people are racists or homophobic, they did express privilege and prejudice that was a problem for me though. It was more than I could sit with. But still it is recognizing the difference between this person is a racist and this person is struggling with prejudice thoughts.  And the truth is maybe they are not struggling with their thoughts, maybe it is me that is struggling with their thoughts.  All I can do is be honest that those thoughts and comments made me uncomfortable on a level that was more than I could tolerate and rather than look at them as a problem I need to look within myself for what opportunity for learning and growth exists in this place of discomfort.

This is absolutely a growth piece for me. I say that in my career as a social worker I am not comfortable with diagnosing clients and that kind of centers around this idea of not wanting to label people but then here in my personal life I may do it without much consideration. I do not know that I will ever be completely without judgement, it is a lofty goal, but it is one I will work towards.

I will try to make a conscious effort to be more mindful of labeling which means recognizing that the men I encounter in life may not be sexist as much as they may hold some gender prejudices, and people on social media who I have previously looked down on as narcissists or vapid ninnies are just regular old people who hold different values than I do.

I guess that is what this really comes down to. People hold different values than I do and for some reason that makes me feel that I have the right to label and judge.

You are sexist. You are a narcissist. You are a bigot. You are homophobic. You are wrong. I am right.

I need to step back from this pattern of thinking. How can I really have compassion for others when I am playing this narrative in my head? I know I have made major progress in this area but there is always room for more growth. I think many of us have room for growth in this area if we are willing to look critically at ourselves rather than remaining critical of others.

I will be honest that this may be an uphill battle for me at times. I am an activist and a feminist and I have a tendency to get fired up and want to call things out. If I can learn to channel that energy in a truly positive way I bet there would be no limit to what I could accomplish.

This morning I grateful for time for quiet reflection, I am grateful for my soul friend and the lesson she brought me last night, I am grateful for time off this summer to recenter, and I am grateful for my ongoing journey.

labels

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