The labels we are given (or adopt) throughout life are useful to some degree – there are times when it is necessary for others to know that you are a mother, grandmother, wife, corporate executive, entrepreneur, student, and so on. However, the greatest challenge many women face with labels is that these categorizations have become entwined with ultimate self-identity. The words that are there to describe us have become words that define us.
In order to create the life you deserve – an amazing life, full of possibility and fun – it is vitally important to become aware of the limitations labels can have on your life, your self-worth and your ability to choose greater possibilities for yourself.
For example, some years ago, a company where I was employed began advertising for a top executive role. In my mind, I came to a conclusion about the expectations of the job and how it would cause me to spend more time away from my children. For me, the label of “top executive” clashed with the label of “loving mother,” so I didn’t even think about applying. It wasn’t until a friend pointed out that I was already doing the work of the advertised job and it wouldn’t demand anything extra of me, that I realized I was perfectly suited for the role.
Every label you attach to yourself comes with a list of expectations; they may be self-imposed, openly demanded of you, or unconsciously absorbed from society. Inevitably, most of these labels are not in harmony with each other, so we spend our lives “juggling” the various expectations and ideals we think we have to live up to.
In my case above, my fixation on fulfilling all of my roles well, (or perfectly!), meant all I could see was limitation. I was not able to see the possibilities right in front of me.
As a modern women, it is probable that you will fulfill a wide variety of roles throughout your life – many simultaneously – and it is impossible to manage the expectations of all these labels well. Sadly, this means that you, like most women, go through your life in a state of perceived “failure” and spend most of your time judging yourself.
Failure is a concept entirely based on judgments; a judgment of whether you did or didn’t meet the expectation of what you judge as the ‘correct’ outcome. But, judgments are not real; they are made up in your head, or you pick up on the projections of others based on what is in their heads.
Sadly, as soon as you are in this state of self-judgment, you are unable to see all of the possibilities in front of you; only that which matches your judgment can come into your awareness. Therefore, you make limited (and limiting) choices and the cycle of judgment continues. You begin to fear failure, and this distracts you from your creativity and power.
Below are some simple tools that can help you move beyond the limits of your labels:
1. Let go of the fear of failure. Learn to appreciate that failure is simply a point that means, “I need more information” and be open to all possibilities.
2. Use ‘interesting point of view.’ When you catch yourself in a state of judgment, repeat to yourself “What an interesting point of view. I have this point of view” until the sense of judgment dispels.
3. Breathe deeply and connect with the Earth. Reconnecting with nature and coming back to the simplicity of your breath prevents judgment and opens your awareness to what else might be possible.
Laleh Alemzadeh-Hancock is a management consultant, Joy of Business facilitator and the founder and CEO of Belapemo and not-for-profit, Global Wellness For All. Learn more at https://accessjoyofbusiness.com/facilitator/lalehhancock/