Labels are one of the fastest and most common ways to get an idea of the nature of what’s in front of us. Furthermore, they simplify many things for us. As such, they can be very useful tools. However, labeling people or labeling yourself might be a different matter entirely. It could mean assigning negative types and characteristics to people no matter if they match up with reality or not.
In some circumstances, labels help you. On the other hand, most of the time, they put people into imprecise categories. Through labeling, people often assign characteristics to others that they probably don’t have. This can often cause changes in the labeled person to match others’ perceptions of them. That is, they might come to adopt those characteristics just because they come to accept the labels.
Labels and self-knowledge
There’s a need to use names to categorize behaviors. Nevertheless, you have to keep in mind that labels lead to pigeonholing people. They’re based on stereotypes. Furthermore, they can generally lead people to take on a role that is, in many cases, neither natural nor inherent to the person. “Restless”, “bad influence”, and “slow” are just some of the many labels that people might carry around with them.
People often get many of their labels at early ages. They’re bad enough in early childhood, but it’s in the teenage years that these categories can hamper growth in a significant way. Additionally, they’re often projections that reflect the shortcomings of the parents or the teachers. They reflect the guardians’ own weaknesses, as well as their lack of knowledge or skills in dealing with children that are in critical developmental stages.