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Living with cultural labels

We live in a culture that uses labels as a means of understanding the world and the people living in it. As a result, many of us find ourselves laboring under labels that have a negative connotation. Unless we can find a way to see the good in such labels, we may feel burdened by an idea of ourselves that is not accurate. It is important to remember that almost nothing in this world is all good or all bad, and most everything is a complex mixture of gifts and challenges. In addition, different cultures revere certain qualities over others, but this does not mean that certain qualities are inherently good or bad. For example, a culture that elevates outgoing behavior will label an introvert in a negative way, calling them antisocial. In truth, the ability to spend time alone is one that most great artists, mystics, and visionaries share. Owning the positive side of this label can lead us deeper into our vision and fertile imaginations.

When we look into the lives of many of the great people in history, we find that they had quirks and eccentricities that earned them less-than-ideal labels from the societies in which they lived. Many famous artists and musicians were considered to be isolated loners or disruptive troublemakers, sometimes both, yet these people altered history and contributed an original vision or advances in our understanding of the universe to the world. If we can remember this as we examine ourselves and the labels people use to describe us, we find that there is a bright side to any characterization.

If you have been labeled, remember that all you have to do to see the positive side is to turn the label around. For example, you may be called overly emotional, and the fact that you are perceived this way may make you feel out of control. But also notice the gifts of being able to feel and express your emotions, even in a world that doesn’t always encourage that. You might begin to see yourself as brave and open-hearted. You may also see that there are certain paths and professions in which this is a necessary ability. As you turn your label around, the light of your true nature shines to guide you on your way.  

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