Harmful Labels and Chocolate Chip Cookies

February 27, 2008 at 4:00 pm (All, DiscoverULife, Lifecoaching)

Harmful Labels and Chocolate Chip Cookies
By Heba Alshareef

“Dummy!”  It’s the favorite new word of my two year old.  She says it all the time, with no regard to decorum or awareness of place.  It’s “dummy” to her brother who says he is too busy to play with her, “dummy” to the senior gentleman who smiles at her in the grocery check-out line, “dummy” to the stroller harness that prevents her from running around like a mad child, “dummy” to me when I refuse to give her yet another cookie.

It’s not a nice word, I know, and please don’t ask me where she learned it.

Not nice words have the remarkable ability to become labels, and labels can become harmful.  How many times have you heard these ones?“She’s the clown.”  “He’s the trouble-maker.”  “I’m lazy.”   “You’re heartless!”   

Try to think of people that you know or care about and inevitably, the labels you’ve placed in relation to them will come up as well.  Who is the “good?” The “bad?” The “ugly?”   

Who are you?  What are you?
Labels can be extremely harmful in that they confine people to boxes that must contain any other tendencies not in accordance to the markers that describe their natures.  So, for example, can the girl who is seen by everyone to be the ‘class clown’ ever cry and take a dramatic turn?  She will struggle to push down any feelings of disappointment because ‘it isn’t who she is.’  Just imagine how stifling the box she is in can become.

The label that got you here won’t get you to where you want to goWhat progress will we ever make if we keep calling ourselves “lazy”?  We’ll get to know our couches very well, but is that the life you really want for yourself or for anyone else you care about whom you’ve affixed the same label to?

Allah SWT says in Surah Al Hujuraat:  “O ye who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): Nor let some women laugh at others: It may be that the (latter are better than the (former): Nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong.”

Labels should be left for food items and clothing brands.  Still, it is human nature to generalize and labels can shape who we are, they live with us and have the power to live on after us.  Consider the Prophet Muhammad SAW, known in his life time and until this day as “Al Amin”, the trustworthy.   

Activity: What will your label legacy look like?
1. Turn to a new page in your journal.
2. Write down the old labels you’ve given yourself.
3. Rip it out and burn it and do it with a vengeance!
4. Repeat step 1.
5. Write down your new labels. 

Wear the label.    Live the label.    Be the label.   Own the label. 
As for me, I don’t want to be a “dummy”, so I’m off to give my two year old that chocolate chip cookie.  I know she’s going to say, “Mama nice,” when I do.  And bribing my way to a new label, well…hey, as long as it’s a good one, I’ll take it.

Request a complimentary lifecoaching session with Heba: http://discoverulife.com/recommends/Heba

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