21 July, 2010

Accidents, Mistakes, Labeling...

Words defy me at the moment.  I am unable to link sentences and thoughts to form a post… so I am just throwing this question out there n hopes that you will have something to say on the subject:

How much weight do words and labels have in regard to our actions toward that which is labeled?

Example  - I know plenty of people who had a child late in their marriage.  Unlike their other children who were “planned,”  this child arrived unexpectedly.  Does how this child is labeled impact the child?  Does our label for that child impact the way we treat or act toward that child?

Or, throughout our years we have relationships here and there or we do things that, in retrospect, might not have been actions chosen today… We make “mistakes.”  That love affair was a “mistake.”  That job was a “mistake.”  Trying that substance… “mistake.”  Does our labeling the action or the relationship or the choice “mistake” have an impact?  


giulietta said...


Most interesting question.

We're all labeled and labeling constantly and act accordingly. We just don't hear most of them or we'd crack up. I found out some girls in college called me "knee-socks" because I always wore cut off shorts and knee-socks! (I forgot about this until you asked this question, so thanks.)

What would a world be like without labels?

Labels may hurt folks less who have strong inner cores. I can take way more labeling now without flinching then when I was younger and more emotionally fragile. Most of the things people say about us are really about them if you think about it. If we could look at it that way, it might bother us less.

Thanks! Giulietta

dadshouse said...

Yes, labels have impact. Try to find the positive label. Everything happens for a reason. Why dwell on a negative light?

Sara said...

I think this is an interesting question.

My first thought is that it depends on how long the label "sticks" to a person. The longer one is negatively labeled and the age it occurs, the more difficult it is to shake the label.

I'm always admired the people who believe themselves enough to step out a label or to challenge a label put upon a group of people. The Civil Rights movement is a good example.

I witnessed this labeling myself as I grew up in the Southern USA and it was vicious and demeaning. It also began in childhood, yet there were many who pulled off their labels and fought for those who could not.

Great post:~)

MrFancyPants said...

I think that, without a doubt, labels affect how we view things, and how we react to and treat them. Some labels are necessary in order to simply communicate, but many are not.

Buddhism teaches not to label with feeling, for example. Positive labels encourage attachment, negative ones aversion, and neutral ones indifference. But the world is so much more that! We are so much more at ease if we simply accept what is (or try to).

I feel sorry for any child labeled as a "mistake." To me, that is strongly negative, and simplifies a complex and unique person.

Unknown said...

Hi M - Good questions. Yes, absolutely, that does impact a child, to be told they were unexpected, or worse yet, a mistake. I've read lots about that, and it is never a good idea to let a child know those things. Really affects self-esteem, and lasts long into adulthood.

As far as the general category of labeling things as "mistakes" goes, I guess I think it's OK if we're framing mistakes as a good thing (the child issue notwithstanding). To give ourselves permission to make mistakes, to see them as part of the learning process, that gives us a sense of freedom, and heightens our creativity.

And about labels in general, I just read an article that the human mind has a proclivity to label things, it wants to slap them on. Part of the way we make sense of things. But they also can hurt big time, especially if they come from a place of judgment (as so many do, either judging ourselves or judging others).


Wilma Ham said...

Yes, any labeling is a judgment and does NOT respect the person by paying attention to the person as a whole.
I have made 'mistakes' and they stay mistakes as I keep labeling them like that.
I need to give that label up otherwise I would forever live with guilt for example.
Getting over labels takes a long time, they do stick and are harmful and absolutely a thing an ego thrives on. Only once we gain confidence and learn to forgive we can get over labels and those are big things to learn.
I hope you did not get a nasty personal experience dear TE, that compelled you to write this post but I think you did? Much love, Wilma