It is so easy for a label to become a self-fulfilling prophecy…
Probably the single most negative effect of using labels is that when someone hears something often enough, they begin to believe what they hear: it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is particularly true if the person is a child. At certain stages of our lives, external messages have infinitely more power than internal ones, and labels can exert great power over our behaviour. We therefore become what our accusers say we are.
Did you have a label? Do you still display the characteristic that your original labeller gave you?
Working within the context of Peace of Mind seminars it is both astonishing and sad how often childhood labels live on in our adult lives. In one group someone had been “clumsy”, and another still thought of herself as “Fat Pat”. It is easy to imagine how these labels must have hurt the young people concerned, as well as the adults testifying to the long reach of the label. The fact was that the adults often still carried the effect of the label… I keep telling you about my grand-daughter Emma, almost 3. She was doing something the other day, I don’t remember how it came about – maybe I was saying she was beautiful. “I’m naughty” she said.
“You’re not naughty” I said
“I’M NAUGHTY” she argued
“Darling, you’re EMMA who sometimes does things other people don’t like!” I said to her.
It really gave me pause for thought about how these early labels really do stick … There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”. Download chapter 1 free now!