What labels do you put on yourself? What labels do you put on others?
I’ve been noticing lately that labels have been causing so much pain, heartache and division.
So, why do we label ourselves then?
In my opinion, it’s because we want to simultaneously belong to something and to declare our uniqueness. And of course, those are polar opposites. We want it all!
The problem with assigning labels is that once we’re convinced that we (or someone else) belongs under a certain heading, we have to prove that it’s true.
Here’s an example.
Once, I attended a retreat where there was a woman who was fanatical about being a vegan. She turned every conversation, regardless of the topic, into a lecture about why she was a vegan and why everyone else listening should be one too. It was fun to be around her.
I ended up in a group with her where we were playing improvisational games. One activity was a “yes” game. We stood in a circle and made up a story, one line at a time. No matter what the person before you said, the goal was to generously receive it and build the story around whatever they introduced. Another group member picked up on the vegan lady’s fanaticism and started to tease her.
The herbivorous lady had started the story and made it about a squirrel in a forest who was living very happily because no one ate animals. (What a surprise.) The group members built on the story, line by line. Then it was the teaser’s turn and he declared with an impish grin, “And then they all went out for burgers!”
The botanical-ingesting lady was horrified and cried out, “NOOOOO!” even though the point of the game was to say yes, no matter what. She wouldn’t play along. In my opinion, it was because she was so attached to her label. It made it very hard to play the game.
I’ve fallen into the label trap myself many times, especially when it comes to food. And let me tell you, not once did the label bring me joy or satisfaction. Well, maybe initially when I “joined the club” of raw food, or vegans, or paleo, or vegetarians. But eventually, I noticed with each label that it became too restrictive, too rule-bound, too narrow.
Bless my husband as he has supported me through each phase. He was bewildered when I got rid of our bread machine as I boldly declared we would never eat bread again. He was confused when I banished the use of our oven and stove and got a dehydrator instead. He was perplexed when I cut meat out of our lives, “cold turkey”. (Yep, I just had to use that expression.) And he was likely relieved each time when I just couldn’t maintain the restrictive lifestyle that each label imposed upon my family.
I’ve gone down many a label-induced rabbit hole and feel like I’ve finally found freedom from needing to define my eating style with rules, have-to’s and restrictions.
That’s why I’m offering my first monthly Self-Care Masterclass (I promised they were coming!) and have chosen to teach about food as self-care instead of self-sabotage later this week.
If you’ve struggled with your relationship with food and have become baffled and confused by what to eat, this fun and informative Masterclass is for you.
It will be free from labeling your eating style, from admonishments and from rules. Instead, I’ll be sharing suggestions on what I’ve learned after a lifetime of studying food (my mom said that when I learned about the Canada Food Guide at age 3, I became a little tyrant, trying to ensure my parents were following the guidelines to a T), the mistakes that people tend to make when dealing with food and how to cultivate a nourishing relationship with what you put into your mouth.
And click here to discover how to get free access to the Masterclass. (Even better, right?) You’ll need to read all the way to the bottom of the page, so get yourself a cup of tea and settle in. I promise you’ll be entertained.
Aside from the Masterclass fun, I invite you to consider what labels you’ve imposed on yourself (food and otherwise) and to consider whether they’re worth keeping. You might notice that you really want to belong to something and that you want to maintain your uniqueness at the same time, but you don’t necessarily need labels to experience those things. Or you might notice that labels serve you. (The labels that you put on your leftover Glory Bowl sauce in the fridge are definitely of service.) That’s the great thing. You get to choose.
With drams of love and gallons of courage,