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Are the labels you use preventing your growth?

Over the last few months I have been sitting with the thoughts of how “labels” influence us as humans. 

 

We are each raised in unique environments by adults who hold different beliefs, who have their own understandings of the world. We, as humans are extremely impressionable. Through our environment, our brains & nervous systems learn. We learn to make sense of things, we learn to respond to things, and we develop our own understandings based on the people, places & things around us.

As we age our knowledge is challenged & evolves into understandings & beliefs that are aligned with our present self. Often those beliefs & understandings change with time & experience. This is personal growth.

I often talk about “doing the work” on social media. Doing the work, in my opinion is this process of unlearning learned behaviors and re-programming beliefs through experience. It’s not easy, and it shifts who we are as humans, as well as our understanding of ourselves & the world around us. 

 

I find words to be interesting. Interesting because we all give words our own unique definition, and hold our own unique understanding of the meaning of each one. That meaning will differ based off of your past experiences & influences. Ultimately we approach the world differently based on the definitions we attach to words & labels.

 

Labels really are simply words with attached understandings, beliefs & meanings. Over the last few weeks I have been thinking a lot about the words & labels in my life, the understandings, meanings & beliefs I attach to them, and how they influence the way in which I live & approach life. 

 

In all honesty, this deep contemplation was triggered by a breakup. A short, yet powerful relationship that deeply shifted me a few months back. Through this relationship I learned how to show up in a way that I have never before. Im a believer that people come into your life for reasons & seasons. Sometimes those seasons last days, weeks, months, or years. But each person that crosses your path is meant to bring new knowledge & understandings to support you in stepping into the next level of yourself (as long as you are listening & integrating the lessons of course.)

 

Im going to get vulnerable with you for a minute and tell you a little bit about how I approached this relationship mentally. If I need to put myself into a box, I would consider myself bisexual (label alert) and to me this means that I don’t only find myself developing deep connections with men, but also women. Honestly, I think all humans are beautiful, complex, and just straight up incredible, both men & women (also labels) ! So in this relationship, I approached it from a place of desiring to build trust & a foundation with this particular male, enough so that we could explore other intimate & sexual experiences wether that be together or separately. Looking back, I now realize that was still approaching with a sense of control, and ultimately placed both of us in a box.

One of my biggest & most important desires in any human relationship is to feel free and unrestricted. I desire to feel ease, calm, in flow, and connected. Honestly, I think thats every humans desire. And looking back I see that by approaching the relationship as so, it was actually restrictive for both him & myself in developing friendly, loving, intimate, sexual & nonsexual relations with others. Why? Because it put walls around how we both shared our love & expressed ourselves. Over a few months this began to fester within both of us and led to feelings of stress because we both had a deep desire to freely share our love, affection, and intimacy in many forms with many people around us.

So this brings me to this idea of labels. The labels we place on our engagements & relationships with others play a role in how we act & respond to circumstances in our lives. 

 

Wether you are calling someone mother, father, sister, brother, partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, friend… whatever label you choose, there is some attached understanding & definition. Again, every persons beliefs are going to be different based off of their past experiences. You have a set of rules, beliefs, & understandings attached to each one of these labels that, I believe, lead you to subconsciously create expectations & lead you to compare the exchange that you have with this individual with what you believe the exchange should look like depending on the rules beliefs & understandings you hold around this label. 

 

Think about the term mother. Based on your past experiences & understandings, how do you believe a mother should show up? How do you believe mothers should carry themselves, interact with the world, or interact with you? How do you believe they should talk, act, or present themselves? What if someone does something that is different than your answers to those questions? You will likely develop some sort of feeling or judgement around it.

Now let’s think of the terms partner, boyfriend, or girlfriend. What beliefs & understandings do you hold around these labels? What definition do you hold? Lets say your view or the term boyfriend holds subconscious beliefs & understandings that this is a person that only shares intimacy and connection with you, maybe this label carries the belief that it is a male who is the breadwinner or is the sole protector. Maybe the term carries a belief around how often this person talks to you or text’s you. Regardless of what your belief’s are, the label of boyfriend carries your own set of understandings. The moment you place this label on another human you will begin to look for the things that match these beliefs & understandings and will look for the things that don't. It’s what your brain naturally does. Im just making you aware of it. In my opinion this is a form of situational control. You want things to be a certain way & feel a certain way so you place particular beliefs & understandings on this label and stay on the lookout for anything that challenges these conditions. This helps you try to protect yourself from uncomfortable feelings.

So through this relationship I had the opportunity to look at the beliefs & understandings, and ultimately the control that I was seeking through the term partner. I noticed that I was seeking this sense of safety, I was seeking control through the desire to share intimacy (sexual & nonsexual) with only us until there was a sense of trust between the two of us. I realized this actually went against my own desire to not feel restricted, and this prevented both of us from feeling free to share out love & intimacy (sexual & non sexual) with others around us.

Now you may be sitting there being like, “this girl is explaining a non-monogamous approach to a relationship” and maybe I am, but I challenge you to consider the understandings & definition you place on non-monogamy. 

 

Humans share a few things in common. Amongst those, the need for connection, touch, the need to share intimacy, the desire to love & be loved, the need to feel supported, and the desire to feel free to be who they want, have what they want & desire to experience those want’s. 

 

So hear me out for a second. What if you didn’t place any labels on the relationships around you? What if you disconnected every set of beliefs & understandings to those who you call mother, father, sister, brother, partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, friend… and what if you just gave them the label as “loving human” without connected understandings or expectations of how they should look, act, be, or show up. How would your relationships change? How much more joy & happiness would you have? How much control would you be giving up? How much more opportunity would it give you & those around you to show up in the ways we each desire rather than trying to fit everyone into this comparison box of expectations?

I desire to feel connected to other humans. I desire to share my love with other humans. I desire to give all other humans the space to be exactly how they desire, without putting a box around them and creating pressure for them to act/be in any one particular way to satisfy my own personal desires for control. Right now I am approaching human relationships without boxes. I am removing all expectations & understandings I have around labels and simply giving space to everyone in my life to be exactly who they are & how they desire to be. This may change, but for now it’s part of my process. And it has been allowing my human relationships to expand, it has allowed me to feel less disappointment, and has allowed me to receive more through my connections.

I believe that without labels, humans have the opportunity to experience massive expansion. I believe that without labels humans have the ability to break through the walls that have held them back. I believe that without labels, this experience in your human body can be full of infinite possibilities.

I am approaching human relationships without those labels to allow me to experience deeper connections, to share more love, and to disconnect from my human desire to control. I believe love & intimacy are a spectrum. I believe there is not just one way to experience them, rather a spectrum of ways to experience them. Intimacy can include deep conversations, hugs, kisses, cuddles, sex, emotional connection, presence… its a whole spectrum, and as long as it feels good… it is all right!! 

 

If you are made to feel wrong about any of the ways in which you approach your human relationships, you are simply fitting yourself into either your box or someone else’s box with walls carrying beliefs, expectations, rules & understandings.

Relating gets to look & feel however you desire. Nothing is wrong as long as all relating is approached with love, respect, communication & understanding.

So who would you be, how would you feel, and how would your relationships change if you stopped putting a box around them? If you took all the walls (full of rules, expectations, understandings & beliefs) down, and If you stopped comparing your relationships & connections to the labels… how would your life change?

 

How are the labels you place on things in your life influencing you, your joy & your expansion in life?

Food for thought.

 

Its always your choice. 

xo, Leah

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