Personally, I think the label for this post is strange.
“Fun with labels”?!? Labeling is an unhelpful and pain-producing cognitive distortion:
Labeling or Name-calling.
We generate negative global judgments based on little evidence. Instead of accepting errors as inevitable, we attach an unhealthy label to ourselves or others. For example, you make a mistake and call yourself a “loser,” a “failure”, or an “idiot.” *
… and I’m suggesting that we have fun with it? That seems
- Doomed to failure.
Of course, I’m labeling this post, aren’t I? Plus, I’m indulging in another cognitive distortion — fortune-telling — predicting how this post is going to turn out. PLUS I’m mind-reading how YOU, the reader, might react to it.
Geesh. The cognitive distortions are coming in, fast and furious today, aren’t they?
I can put words on why that might be happening. Yesterday, at work, I caught myself in THREE obvious mistakes.
I sometimes liken my mistakes to mice. Or cockroaches. That is, if I see three of them, I assume there are many, many more mistakes I’ve made, that I haven’t seen, observed, or caught.
So, I could label my mistakes
- Out of control
….or, I could label my mistakes, in a different way:
Are we having fun, yet? Probably not, because, as usual, dear readers, I have digressed from my intent, in writing this post.
Here was my intent: to show and tell you about a group exercise I did yesterday.
In a group, I gave everyone a bunch of sticky name tag labels, like these:
(I found that image here)
Then, I told people to write down, on those labels, positive adjectives for themselves, which they could stick to themselves, if they chose. Based on my experience as a therapist, I knew that was a very difficult assignment, so I added another one: to write down familiar negative labels, also. And, not surprisingly, the latter assignment was much easier for people. But with some mutual support and help (e.g., “What are some positive things other people have said about you, even if you have trouble believing it?) … people were also able to come up with several positive labels for themselves.
Here’s a photo, from yesterday:
Note that you don’t see any negative labels like “Stupid,” “Messy,” or “Selfish” in that photo.
Why? Because we ripped up all the negative ones, into little pieces.
And that sure was fun, people.
Okay! What else did I want to identify here, before I end this post?
How about this? Sometimes, we label our cats. For example, Michael, lately, has been calling Oscar “skinny”
and our other cat, Harley, the opposite of that. I really hope that’s not bothering Harley, because here’s where I caught him, last night:
Although, I’ll name this: more exercise would be good, for all of us.
Thanks to people who label, those who aren’t perfectly anything, and to you — of course! — for reading this whatever-you-want-to-call-it post, today.
* See here for the complete definition of labeling and the other dozen not-fun cognitive distortions.