When I still did floor nursing on the Oncology Floor, I remember my patient in Room 905 who told me she had cut all the labels out of her clothes. I asked her why. She told me with a chuckle that when she died she didn’t want anyone to know what size she wore. I laugh now, but also understand. I don’t want to be remembered by “MY LABELS”. The ones I have placed on myself. Yesterday at Ladies Bible Study, we talked about our internal labels we place on ourselves. The ones not so easily removed by “cutting them out”, but that we replay daily in our minds that we allow to define us. A few of us shared:
Example A – a friend said she described herself as “unintelligent”. She had to work really hard in school and study for everything. I said that I could see that as diligent, dedicated, disciplined, and a hard worker. There are plenty people in the world that things come naturally for and they still may not use those skills. Also, there are people who also feel unintelligent, but never take the initiative to change that.
Example B – one of the words that best describes me and I have labeled myself with is a procrastinator. As I age, I really hate that being one of my legacies! I have passed on this practice to my daughter. It is the end of the semester for her, and well, she is walking in my footprints. However, some may see my trait as a positive in that I can meet deadlines at last minute, work well under pressure, and have a full life that prevents me for working on things sooner.
This is a perfect example how every label we give ourselves could be examined as a strength. Other people often do not see our labels that track through our mind daily — well, until you disclose them like I am going to (lol).
What do I want to hear eery morning I get out of bed? Look in the mirror? Yesterday morning, I got up late. Late in meaning I wanted to be out of the house by 8:30 and did not wake up until 8:38 am! I not only had to get up but awaken two beautiful children, who are not- morning people (also my trait). There would have been a day that would have been a definite unglued day – yelling at the kids, forgetting something important, etc. However, this morning, I intentionally focused on NOT being unglued. I got ready first, praising God for my curly hair and having laundry done. I then conquered waking the children. I could have easily let that bad start snowball into a very ugly day, by feeding my thoughts with – I can’t believe you did this again, if you would go to bed earlier you could get up earlier, etc., but I did really well arriving safely on time (just not early like I wanted). However, I did at one point say out loud at the Bible Study that I should have just not gone to bed, so I would have already been up (yep – that’s how I think).
Back to the labels that I use for myself. I think of my friend and her label she lived in her head. She is amazing to many and I would have never known her feeling. So too, many may be surprised to read this. Here are my self-defeating labels…
Procrastinator – this is my one item that always tops my list. For the past two years I have chosen words to help me to defeat this bad habit. It is a bad habit when I know that as a result of it, I often am cramming at the last minute to get things done. One of my life rules, is always have enough gas in the tank to get me/family to the hospital. I would dread the day that I would have to stop to get gas on the way of taking someone emergently or following an ambulance, by putting getting gas off until “tomorrow”. I never really thought about it, but that “gas rule” should be my guiding principal for all things though, because what happens if I wait until tomorrow to finish something and a bigger emergency comes up.
Night-Owl. I definitely am one to stay up late and prefer to sleep in. I have created 2 children like me. Although, when I worked day shift, I could manage even leaving by 4am. I use to even go to work day shift and take the kids to sitters/daycare, etc. I use to be able to say I stay up late because that is when it is quiet in the house, but by developing my children into night owls and now cyberschooling, that is also not the case. Then there are the days I justify my little sleep by saying I am a night-owl and I am use to it, when I know I may still have an early morning the next day. REALITY is I am generally just trying to cram more stuff into a day. Sometimes because I have procrastinated, and sometimes just to cram more stuff in. Cramming more stuff in maybe fine at times, but am I cramming important stuff because I procrastinated, or have I planned poorly/not at all, or am I wasting time on things that even matter. Most of my friends are early birds and I even tried it for awhile last year, and it is nice to have a little more daylight. So, the choice needs to be mine… do I control the clock and my body or do I let it control me?
Insufficient. A perfect example above of how I said/believed that I just should not have gone to bed (I worked till 2:30 am) and stayed up so I would not have slept in. Because, I always feel insufficient – like I need to do more! Most days, I feel like I have not done enough, and that also adds to my procrastination and my night-owl. I even keep a tablet by my bed and have a place for notes on my cell phone because my mind does not stop even then of all the things I should have / could have done. I have the paper/phone there because I would have once stayed awake all night so I didn’t forget the idea / or my list. Or if I did fall asleep, I would awaken in a panic. To the world, they often do not see this because I am a “stuffer” (another lesson learned from Bible Study and great blog topic). I hold it together for the “world” and not let my feelings/emotions be known externally, even if I am blowing up inside. Do I try to be a good mom and wife? – yes, but often feel like I have not done enough.! Many will say to me they don’t know how I do it all (work, children, home school, church, etc)… well, I don’t. I get what I have to have done completed, but something/someone always pays. The cost maybe my house is left go (often), my sleep/eating well/health is left go (often), and those cause my family to suffer indirectly. I could get a whole list of things done for the day, and still believe that it wasn’t enough. So, instead of just pausing and refocusing and figure ways to improve… I just complete believing I am insufficient, like it is never enough and I am never enough. Never good enough mom, wife, friend, Christian, employee, etc….
That’s enough confession – I am not even going to describe in detail the words I use for how I feel I look on many day.
I am sure I am not alone in the self-defeating labels. I would believe we all have them. For so long, I have had the labels in my head that I have allowed them to define me. I think of people hearing all their lives they are “not good enough”, and believing that thought, instead of overcoming the thought. I am great about telling my daughter and others – prove them wrong. Prove the labels wrong. I should look in the mirror and say that to myself. PROVE THEM WRONG!!! Remove the old labels and put new ones on. I should choose what I want to define me, both in my head and to the world. Lysa Teurkyrst also suggested labels from I Thessalonians 5:16-18 “16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances’ – Joyful, Prayerful, and Thankful are three labels she would like to represent her. Those are GREAT labels! . One new label for me is intentional. I could probably add the list grateful/thankful because every day I list at least 10 things. It is time for me to cut the negative labels out of my life, just as my patient did her clothes size!