No matter what you’ve done, what you may be diagnosed with, what you are, or what you may have gone through, you do not have to let it be the definition of WHO you are. Too many times there is judgment—whether it comes from others, or if it’s something that you place upon yourself.
Words, looks, feeling avoided or excluded, judged--and especially a label you hold onto--can really hurt. Letting any stigma remain attached to you can only hold you back. You have the choice if that happens or not. Your opinion of yourself is what matters most. Something a past client of mine said has stuck with me. “Once you focus on yourself, everyone else disappears.” They learned that saying through attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. How can you create space for yourself to move towards accepting yourself for all you are, and leave the judgment behind?
Separate yourself from a label. Some things are not a choice, and you are born into them. That does not mean you have to let that define you. Your behaviors, your diagnosis, your orientation, or any past events are not YOU. They are things you did, something you were born with, or something you went through and survived. Starting to grab onto that concept can help you separate who you are as a person.
Define who you are. What do you value? Where do you want to see yourself? Your perception of yourself is indeed your reality. What we think becomes how we act. Once you begin to see yourself in a positive light, you can begin to live up to your own expectations, and meet your own needs. Who are you, or what are you working towards?
Own who you are. Maybe there are parts of a “label” that you like to identify yourself with. Maybe that part gives you an identity that makes you feel good about yourself, or helps you to stay on a positive path. To accept yourself for all you are is a great accomplishment! Can you take the parts that really do help you, and use those parts to help you grow?
Doing is believing. Once you get to a point where you are comfortable with who you are, you can start working on doing the things that you were being held back from. This is a leap, and easier said than done. Remember, everything is a process, and takes time. These are the things that taking on a label may have held you back from. If you are in recovery from addiction, maybe it means being ready to find new activities that become part of your new life. If you felt stigmatized due to being gay, maybe it means beginning to feel proud of who you are, attending events that celebrate your sexuality, or finding ways to practice not taking in other people’s judgments. If you are bipolar, depressed, anxious, have panic attacks, or anything else that may or may not be diagnosable, maybe it means taking on activities or practices that help you make it through your high’s or low’s, and taking control of them, instead of accepting that is just how your life is; and there is nothing you can do to move past it. I had a client that did have schizoaffective disorder, and no means to get medication to help him out. He said that taking a cold shower was one thing that helped him make it through his most severe episodes. Whatever you can find, that is a healthy alternative, and it works, good for you for trying out new things to help yourself!
You can move past labels. You can feel more comfortable with yourself. You can move towards creating the kind of life you want. If any of this resonated with you, I hope it gave you some ideas on how you can start to work towards finding your own inner strength. If you feel you need help finding your strength, always feel free to reach out.
1. Separate yourself from a label.
2. Define who you are.
3. Own who you are.
4. Doing is believing.