4 simple ways to use mindfulness in a world of labels
I recently saw a video in YouTube by Maureen Chiquet, the author of the book Beyond the Label: Women, Leadership, and Success on Our Own Terms. This video was interesting because it was aiming to people working in business and yet somehow I felt this can apply to many people on their daily lives,
As she says in the video we do live in a world of labels, not only the fashion labels but the ones around us, the ones others give us and the ones accepted in the society we live in. Labels, as she mentions come with all sorts of expectations. The level of success we may achieve may also have to do with our ability to embrace these labels or to rebel against them.
We can literally go crazy trying to please everybody and their labels (also known as whatever expectations they may have for us), What I would suggest is to find out what labels you really feel in connection with and to find some authenticity in yourself among all the labels around you.
Mindfulness techniques are good for many things, but in reality they target the same in us: self-awareness. They help us distinguish among things that belong with each one of us and the things that simply don’t. We are bombarded with publicity, family and social expectations in the media mostly. And if you are an expat like me, you will struggle with two or even three very different social and cultural expectations: French, Spanish and Irish. I can assure you that expectations are infinitely different in these three cultures and I had to make up my mind on what I would accept as part of me, and what I simply won’t. At the end, the best way to go is by showing AUTHENTICITY independently on how it is perceived externally. Find what makes you happy, what you fell proud of and stick to it because that at least makes you who you are. Chances are that you meet other people, work somewhere else or live in another country where that label is considered cool. And yes, that happens all the time. You may not be considered <<insert label>> by a particular group of people, only to simply change group and be considered the most <<insert label>>. That is how fast and easy these labels change . Many things considered chic in Ireland are not considered chic in Spain, and what is chic in Spain may have nothing to do with what they think of it in France.
1.- WHAT YOU THINK YOU WILL PROJECT
I should tattoo this on my arm, really, because it couldn’t be more true. Whatever you are thinking most of the time in your head will, not so magically, transform in front of your eyes. If we don’t feel inner confidence we won’t appear confident in front of others, and this can affect our life in ways we don’t even realise. Authenticity has to do with showing the inner you to people out there, something that it is easier said than done. If you are anything like me and struggle with people pleasing you know exactly what I am talking about. So sometimes authenticity will mean not being the person that always says yes, and that may not be received with open arms by everybody but most people will be happy to get to know what you like and who you genuinely are..
2.- SAY BYE TO THOSE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
When talking about labels, I am sure that each one of you have your own labels, the labels your parents have or had for you and social and work labels as well.. All goes well except when we do not feel identified or happy with one or many of those labels. Often times, we have learned to live with these labels from a very early point in our lives (something like factory settings). Is in these instances when we notice very negative and self-destructive.thoughts and ideas creeping in our heads that do not seem ours or in line with who we feel want to be.
Those labels should be noticed and should be banned from our minds if they are not in sync with who we believe we are. Mindfulness and meditation help here to distinguish what thoughts creep out in certain situations (mostly because of triggers) and basically responding to them in a way that has more in common with who we are (our personal brand so to speak). I guess is about being more responsive instead of reactive. There is a lot of self-reflection involved before someone can realise that some of what they believe has been planted there and has no positive use in their life.
3.- JOURNALING + MEDITATION
Many people are these days approaching self-development the same way that companies approach self-branding. You analyse what you like and what you don’t. You check what goals go in line with your philosophy and what goals you should not pursue. For me meditation alone is good to take distance and to be more present in whatever is going on. But if I am struggling with something like stress or anything really in life I need to get it out, literally. For this reason journaling is having more and more success among people interested in self awareness as it is a way to assess situations, feelings and to just let it out. It is more immediate that going to a therapist (I mean you can always take the notebook with you to a session if you want), and you can do it as many times and in as many ways you can imagine.
I find this practice very healing even on what I would consider ‘good days’ as it helps you to understand the way you process information and events. In sum, it helps you to understand yourself in a more objective way.
4.- DECIDE WHAT LABELS DEFINE YOU AND WHICH ONES DON’T
There is nothing wrong with labels but they can’t all apply to people in bulk. What is feminine?What is not? Many would say a woman in heels or something delicate? Those are labels, but the concept of femininity is evolving at the same time women are redefining the concept.
So, my advice is consider defining what the labels around you mean for you and how comfortable you feel embracing them. If you don’t, rebel against them and re-define your own way to do things, feel and live life. You may feel alone but I can assure you there is lots of people out there in the same situation as you waiting to find others in similar situations to connect with.
Let me know what you think about this post on the comments below and what labels have you experienced in your life that you struggled the most with? How have you dealt with it?
Thank you for reading!