How many labels have you acquired during your life? Some labels will have come and gone, maybe before you even knew it. Labels like “baby”, “toddler” or “pre-schooler”. Some labels may have been welcomed, like “18”, “graduate” or “parent”. Others might be unwanted, like “widow”, “sick” or “depressed”. Criticisms, like “difficult”, “boring” or “weird”, may become labels and sting repeatedly. And compliments, such as “clever”, “competent” or “brave”, can be received as labels, and secretly we know we’ll never live up to them all the time.
Labels have cultural meanings attached. My niece understood this at two, when asked why she was having a tantrum, she declared very calmly, “I’m a toddler, it’s what we do.” The sense of self, intricately tied into labels. So often, though, echoing back as “not good enough”. A common self-label, a belief. One that dominates. And it’s common to set out on a journey to fix it. To feel “awesome”, or even “just about acceptable”. The self-help world will tell you it’s vital.
But, pause a moment. You’ve noticed something really important. A feeling of lack that can drain the colour from experience. Rather than race to replace one belief with another, notice instead the quiet sense of need it points to. To a subtle desire for how you are in the world to be different. To an idea that something is wrong and should change. Or that it’s okay, but could be so much better.
It might appear in the search for the right partner, child, friendship, business, income, lifestyle, or state of health. It can be in a judgement of yourself, your personality, your intelligence, your success, your state of mind, your looks, or your body.
In other words, it shows up in the attachment of your sense of self to things that come and go. That’s never going to feel great. It’s like anchoring everything you hold dear to a piece of driftwood. You become a victim of every wave.
My suggestion today is instead of trying to make something that comes and goes feel good enough, look to what is always good enough. What never changes. What never lacks or fails. What is unlimited. To who you are, beyond labels, beyond belief.