Labels and Identities

We often define ourselves by transient labels that do not speak to the unchangeable, infinite Self that inhabits within us all.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation." -- Oscar Wilde

We often define ourselves by transient labels that do not speak to the unchangeable, infinite Self that inhabits within us all. The dilemma of label-attachment is significant, for our whole lives can feel shattered upon losing any of these externally imposed identities. If we define ourselves as "manager" or "runner" or "musician," who are we when we lose these jobs, abilities, or interests? Does losing these things change who we are as people? Or is that a permanent Self that abides?

Even labels such as "sister" or "father" can be dangerous. For we allow these roles to define us rather than ourselves deciding how we want to define and show up in these roles. Labels are limiting and curtail our creativity and self-expression. Most of all, boxing ourselves into prescribed roles gives away our power and takes away our freedom: we become slaves to an idea of what ought to be.

Many of our labels come from what people or society expect us to be and do, though even more of those labels and expectations are our own projected outwards as a way to protect our insecurities and fears of failure. Owning our Self and our decisions is scary because we must live with the resulting judgment and consequences. It is scarier still to have our decisions and our Self "fail" publicly.

Thus, we place identity after identity and label after label over our real Self, like Band-aids over an open wound. When we pull back these layers of covering, we will feel more intensely. We will feel a heightened sense of anger, fear, desperation, sadness, and vulnerability. Pain will be more intense. But so will love. And laughter and delight and passion and connection. And only when our Self sees the light, will be truly be healed.

- Make a list of all the identities you can think of that you and others have used to define you.

- Under each label, make bullet points describing how you show up and show you are "supposed" to show up in each identity.

- On a separate piece of paper write only your name.

- Meditate on the freedom of openness and a clean slate at every new moment in your life.

Mantra: I define myself by choosing who I want to be.


Spirituality is meant to take us beyond our tribal identity into a domain of awareness that is more universal. -- Deepak Chopra

If you're given the freedom to be anything, or be anyone, what do you do with it? -- Chuck Palahniuk

I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will. -- Charlotte Bronte

Support HuffPost

Do you have info to share with HuffPost reporters? Here’s how.

Go to Homepage

Popular in the Community


Gift Guides