How often has it been that the first impression we form about people hangs / lingers on with us for a very long time.
Why do we label?
What is happening inside us when we label?
We often find ourselves in a position where we are in a group and someone is behaving differently. Instantaneously we label him as "he is different, not like us....he is angry...he is irritating...don't go near him, he is useless" or the other spectrum - "she is effective...she is useful....."
If we observe carefully, labelling is happening in a quick manner often in an instant of time, and almost always we have created them by viewing through our perceptive filters. This means that the perception is a direct mirror from our past experiences that gives us an essence of connecting to the person being in a particular way. And we take this further by either telling someone else about it or drilling it into a person time and again till the person believes it....
Have you ever noticed this about a coffee table discussion, when we feel something and so often acknowledge that "Hey I too felt the same way!!" Now consider the case where each of the participants are feeling a condition of being helpless. Looking carefully what brings them together is the feeling of being helpless .
But digging deeper one begins to understand that they were talking about a completely different cause and effect but labelling it as being helpless . Some may feel this helpless feeeling for not being able to communicate, some feel it because they are not doing anything about the current situation, some due to helplessly being angry and some helplessly lonely...and yet we term it largely as being helpless.
So what are we coming to?
Deep down inside us our perceptive filters are so strongly updated in the subconscious mind, that it just takes another event/ someone resembling someone else for us to consciously label them. For some parents it becomes like a monologue where they end up calling their child - slow, lazy, useless. The child's mind is completely open in the subconscious domain (the one that is 6000 times powerful and begins to formulate and store data from conception). The effect on the child is like a slow killer. The child might begin to do things hurrying up his pace to satisfy the parents at a superficial level but the subconscious mind has got updated with "slow - lazy" and is silently waiting.
Once the child begins to develop and make sense of data in the critical filter where the data now begins to take form, the child now begins to show symptoms of either feeling "not good enough" because he has been hearing it or a complete lack of motivation because "no one would believe it" as the environment has always been labelling. This is how the subconscious is affected and this gets translated after a period of time.
Take an example of a new bride walking into a house or a new relationship/ friendship. If the other person involved in it believes in their perception about you so strongly, then even by trying as hard as you can, its difficult to be perceived differently . This is very common between partners (also due to the intimacy in the relationship). Most common you might be labelled as brutal, soft, not bothered , etc.
Spouses in simple conversations may refer casually saying "she is always like this" or may show a response of being indifferent. But it is very important to understand that unless one is extremely clear or conscious about one's own belief system and one is operating out of empathy and understanding, one often believes what the environment is saying and therefore either feels too important or rejected; pampered or isolated, etc.
Look at how many times you have told your own children or family members - "You never ever understand me !!" or "you have always been unfair". Deep down these statements in our deepest and quietest moments, on reflecting will echo our loudest and obvious belief systems that are popping up their heads in a big way. It results in the other person feeling labelled, victimised or important from another person's perception. If they are children, then the process is very slow and formulates only when the child has grown. But in case of adults the feelings are consistent - feelings of being perceived constantly in the same way.
I had a client commenting that "even when I lost weight or looked different , my spouse did not see!" In many marriages, over a period of time, we begin perceiving our spouse based on the roles they play for our children or what has happened several years back. In many families, the image of a member completely changes after an event or a mishap that then creates a new label.
So next time, before we label ourselves saying that "I am always reacting this way." or labelling someone else, think for a moment
1. What action of the person has made you perceive the person in this manner?
2. Have you been influenced by the experience yourself or are picking up someone else's perceptions?
3. Look around you to see some of the common perceptions that you carry about yourself, spouse, mom, dad, children or a colleague.
4. Ask yourself about any one person who has influenced your perception? Has it been a repeated feeling or are you missing out some rational link in the process?
5. Look around to see how this person may have tried really hard to change this perception. Did you notice it, miss it ? Why or why not?
6. Would you give yourselves a fresh new chance to create a new file of perception that is based on the moment to moment interaction where you are now operating from understanding yourself first?
You might find this exercise extremely useful but your conclusions might be surprising.
Don't miss on yourself because it is very easy to perceive another person in the external environment but when the compass points inward, the inner voice is only heard in the silent chambers inside of your SELF :)
I am reminded of a quote here by Raj Bhowmik (http://www.rajbhowmik.com/
) "Whenever you shake hands, be aware to shake hands as a human being; and not as a label."
So the next time you are with someone, try removing that label and see the person as they are. You might be helping in moulding a new person, creating a new relationship and a completely new Being that is dependent only in the moment- in the Now
Do try this exercise out to see how it works with you and share some of your insights with others who might be feeling the same.