Refusing Labels, Libel, and Limitations

My first book, “Par for the Curse”, was about generational curses – patterns of behavior and thought that are passed down by family members either intentionally or unintentionally.  Sometimes well-meaning people in your life can cause you the most damage. Such was the case with Grandma Lila in the story.  Because she had a bad experience with a man, she spent her life warning her daughters and granddaughters in the same manner.  They accepted the label of not being able to sustain romantic relationships. Consequently, they became eight unhappy women with twenty-four husbands among them.

Many times the people around you will insist on defining you by one moment in your life (or theirs).  However, it is you who has the responsibility to know who you are and refuse any label, libel or limitation that is contrary to who you believe you are in life.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This is true.  How accurate are those words?  If you see a picture you know the story of that particular moment in time. Sometimes people wish to illustrate their entire life’s journey with one picture.  Sometimes other people take a snapshot of us and draft a complete story about who they think we are based upon that snapshot.  Whether you do it to yourself or other people do it to you, it can be destructive to build a lifetime from the definition of a single moment.

If I only identified with one moment, one snapshot in my life I would risk being stuck in that moment and not see the value in the entire journey.  More importantly if I am too busy looking at snapshots from the past, I will not be able to create an artful portrait for my future – which, by the way, is a blank canvas for me to create whatever I want to create for life.

Labels
Does throwing a football make you a quarterback? No!  So, do not label yourself  as something because of your mistakes or missteps. Telling a lie does not make you a liar.  Snapping at someone on a a bad day does not make you an awful person. We all have tendencies to do and say things that we wish we had not done or said.  The very notion that we regret them, intuitively says that the behavior is not WHO we are.  Do not allow yourself or other people to take a single label and weave it into the entire fabric of who you are.  Refuse labels on your life by reminding yourself about all of the good things about you. You may need to occasionally remind others, too.

Libel
In this age of social media, untruths can be written (libel) or spoken (slander). But, let me not glamorize it with fancy legal distinctions…  People will lie about you.  As a reformed gossip, I used to think that there was some truth to every rumor. That was until there was a rumor about me that was ridiculously and utterly untrue – a complete fabrication.  You cannot waste time chasing down lies about your life and who you are. You cannot stop people from lying about you. But, here is what you can do… live your life in a way that makes other people know that the lies being told cannot possibly be true. When you do this, the evidence of your life invalidates the lie.  Do not let it change the kindness in your heart. Smart people will see the truth. Some people will want to believe the lie. In either case, refuse libel in your life by being who you are and let your behavior speak for itself.

Limitations 
People will always try to tell you what you can and cannot do based upon their own experiences or by analyzing your past.  For example, failing at a relationship (or two) does not mean you will never find love.  It is like riding a bike.  Falling off after you hit a huge bump does not mean you cannot ride a bicycle.  Do not limit what you want to do in life based upon your own fear, the assessment of others, or your past failures.  You may need to stop sharing your goals and wishes with negative people.  You may need to face your fear, rather than conquer it.  Refuse limitations in your life by actively and consciously pushing forward and not looking back.  Always expect a positive outcome, rather than planning and bracing yourself for a negative one.

Enjoy and embrace the entire journey of your life.  I find such freedom in being able to own my story – the good, great, bad, and down right ugly.  Live and learn from all of the snapshots taken, but do not stay so focused on the old clippings that you stop making headlines. I have captured and labeled many moments of my life as snapshots. I refuse to set any limits on myself. I abhor when someone THINKS they know who I am, based upon who they THINK I was.  I believe I can do whatever it is I want to do.  I will not listen to sentiment that tells me otherwise.  I live each day expecting to be full of love, peace, joy and the grace of God. You can too.  Just live your life and love yourself first.

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