Labelling people is such an easy thing to do. Often while I am out you hear people say, “Oh that’s the naughty one!” Or something similar. Trouble is when you start doing this, you start seeing them through those lenses and everything becomes bad and naughty.
On the other hand, you can hear people labelling adults too. Sometimes it is easier to do so, so that other people can identify who you are talking about. That kind of labelling isn’t really a problem if you do it to identify someone to another person.
But there can be a problem when you label someone as being bossy, or impatient, or always late or things like that. People are not “just” the disabled person or the one who is continually smiling. They are more than the label you put on them.
I have encountered many different attitudes with regards to seeing me in a wheelchair. Some see the person, but I have been to appointments with one of my carers and people will speak to her, but not to me. Sometimes the chair becomes an impediment to creating relationships, but that shouldn’t be the case.
When people are labelled and seen just as the label, you are in danger of not discovering the gifts and talents they have. You could have called out something inside them and encouraged them. People have different interests than just what you can see.
I love it when someone looks at me and supports me in what I want to do. My husband has always been there for me and given me the space and time to do what I want to do. It is great to have a supportive environment and Kevin has even encouraged me to do things that I feel I am unable to do and I discover that, to my surprise, I can do them.
Labelling a person doesn’t mean that is all they are. You need to look past the label you have placed on that person and see who they are underneath that label.
My son got a diagnosis yesterday and although it opens up help and support for him, the label itself doesn’t change him. We see him as he is and the different gifts he has are there to be encouraged and developed. He is a highly intelligent boy who loves to be outside and loves to learn. I never want him to lose his joy of learning.
So when you see a person and instinctively label them as just one thing, think about it for a minute. A few seconds and being mindful is all it takes. The label doesn’t define them. You can look beyond that and find the real person inside. Don’t be fooled by the label, but make a conscious effort to see beyond it to the person inside.