Labels: why we shouldn’t use them and how they can change your life … by Casey Carlisle


                Black, gay, catholic, agnostic, disabled, sports star, alcoholic, girl… we all use labels to help us make sense of the world. We all have experiences how these names have marginalised us in some way, but they can also give you the power to change your life and reach your goals.. all you need is a little wordplay.

I’ve been writing since High School, but the day I decided to call myself an author was the day I decided to take my story writing seriously. It was a way to make myself accountable – to my friends, my family, the public. That simple statement validated my dreams of becoming a published author.

Other labels imposed upon you don’t tend to yield such results, but the ones you give yourself can open up a world of possibilities. Words like achiever, role model, entrepreneur, leader… all of these can motivate and inspire, give you something to live up to.

Capture your dream. Make up your own labels and wear them with pride.

Every day it seems that one oppressed group is pitted against another. Sometimes it can escalate to a life and death battle. We see it in schools, we see it in the news. Words can do much more than entertain, they can start wars. Sometimes I wonder how I could do something to change it all, going protest rallies, fund charity organisations, speak up for minority groups. It’s all noble work, but to manage it all would be exhausting and impossible.

So I start with me. Change my negative labels into positive ones… and pay it forward. It’s not much, but I hope it can make a difference. I’ve turned cancer sufferer into cancer survivor, uneducated into educated, depressed into impressive, two-left-feet into happy feet…

It sounds like a passive movement to combat the darker side of humanity, but some of us aren’t eloquent and inspiring leaders, some of us find it hard to shine in the spotlight or risk bodily harm in speaking up for the oppressed. At the end of the day, every little thing that takes us towards making this world a better place is a good thing. Plant a tree, give a smile, donate, recycle. Think twice about the words you use – even in jest. Like the old adage: Change yourself and change the world!

So embrace the labels people give you, turn them into something positive. Deconstruct the negative feelings on undesirable names. Add ‘proud’ in front of your label, or ‘expert’ and see what a difference it can make. I know it is all perspective, but it can make a huge difference.

I guess it’s all an exercise in empathy and optimism, but hey, couldn’t we all do with a little of each?


© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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