We often are given a label. It could be a diagnosis of a health condition (cancer, asthma, IBS, PCOS, a psychological condition). It could be defining a behavior of a child (ADHD, autism, deficiency behavior). It could be a name, a gender designation, a derogatory name or a label of a political or religious group. It could be a number, as in a test score or health screening. There are pros and cons to labels – to be given a label by someone, and to give ourselves a label.
Scene From THE FOSTERS
I recently watched the television series, THE FOSTERS. In one episode, there was a scene in which the topic of labels was discussed in a short conversation between the two characters Jude and Cole. Jude is just coming out as a gay teen, and Cole is a transgender man. Here is the dialogue from that conversation.
Jude: Conner is freaked out because I won’t say I’m gay. But, I don’t get it. Why do I have to call myself anything? (He had expressed earlier that he wanted to be Jude, not be a label, such as saying he is gay, but to be Jude.)
Cole: I understand, and not wanting to have to check a box or whatever, but there’s power in labels, too, you know. When I was at Girls United most of the girls refused to call me “he”. And my label is what got me through. My label got me into an LGBT home where I can just be, you know, me. No questions asked. I’m not saying labels are for everyone, but sometimes they can, I don’t know, make us feel not so alone.
THE FOSTERS – season 3, episode 4. (Start time 29:30 – 31:00)
In this scene, both a con and pro viewpoint are expressed. The con, is that having a label may put a person in a box that they don’t want to be in, such as with Jude, saying he is gay. He may not be ready to say he is gay and he may not be gay. He wants to be himself – Jude. And the pro viewpoint, is that having the label of a transgender man, a “he”, helps Cole find a place to live that is comfortable and accepting of him. Both of these characters, actually want to be seen as who they are.
A Label Can Be Comforting – A Pro
For some, a label is a name of what is going on with them. It is comforting. It is an explanation. It is saying to the person, that this is what I have or am, or this is why I have not been feeling well. I have this ________________, such as getting a diagnosis of a disease.
I remember when my mother was told she had irritable bowel syndrome. She took comfort in knowing that she had something, something real and not that it was all in her head. And she could now say to people, “this is what I have”. She even gave my brother and I a book to read about IBS. To her, this book and the diagnosis explained her, explained how she felt, and gave her information to give to others so that would know who she is. The label was helpful for her.
A label, as in the short conversation above, can help open doors or give people services and/or therapies that are helpful to them. This often is the case in the school system when a child is given a diagnosis of ADHD, learning disabilities or autism.
A Label Can Be Limiting – A Con
Sometimes though, a label can be confining, restricting, and limiting. We may take it as this is who I am, defining us, and thinking that we can’t do anything about it. We can’t do anything different to change it or to make it better, that we will always be like this. Whether with a medical diagnosis or a recurring thought pattern, such as labeling ourselves as victims or losers, we keep ourselves in a stuck, looping pattern.
Labels can be limiting because this may be how other people only see us; that only the label is seen and not the person. If a child is diagnosed with ADHD, learning disabilities or autism, or an adult is said to be depressed or has digestive problems, this is all that other people see about the person, the diagnosis, the label. I think this is what Jude was saying in the conversation above, that the person is not really being seen, but rather the person has become this label.
We Are All Individuals, Not A Label
Each of us have are own unique way of doing things, our own feelings, our own experiences. sensations, symptoms, beliefs, thoughts and behaviors. This is why I love homeopathy so much. Homeopathy looks at the individual, taking the individual into consideration, learning, observing, knowing what this person’s world is like, for them. Yes, there may be a diagnosis, a name, a label, but it is always finding out about this person, and how they experience what bothers them.
If a label is given, it is for us to be open. It is to use labels in a constructive way, helping, understanding and knowing the person. To be aware that the label may not be telling or giving us the whole or full picture of the person. And to seek out more about this person, so that we know THIS individual, and can help and meet THEIR needs, and help in THEIR healing, or just to know THEM.
If I can be of help, you can contact me here on this blog or through my website http://www.homeopathytoheal.com.