We label people because it helps us to compartmentalize situations and behaviors. When we do, we are actually saying something about ourselves. We are saying, “I’m like that” or “I’m not like that.” When we do this, we are robbing ourselves of the curiosity that comes from getting to know someone beyond their exterior façade. Imagine all you can learn by opening yourself up to others. Don’t worry about what they are wearing, how they speak, the color of the skin and so forth. We are all human beings, of worth, and are interesting. We all want to be wanted, valued and appreciated. Remember, you are being labeled as well. You may like it or you may not. You can control, to some extent, how others see you but not in all cases.
How do you stop yourself from doing this? First, having an awareness that this is an issue is the first step. Think about your actions and attitudes and know that your past experiences are playing a role in all this. We want to generalize which is always dangerous. When you label yourself as being part of a group, you limit how you believe you should think and act. You blindly follow along without thinking for yourself.
By labeling people in society, it can have positive and negative ramifications. Some labeling can help people get the services they need. In other cases, groups of people can be categorized in a negative light. So open yourself up to the possibilities. We can all learn from each other.
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