You may often hear the phrase “you are what you eat” and clearly there is some truth in that; we are constantly reminded by the media and government to eat healthily. However, what we think is more important and in particular, that inner critical voice which we hear all day long. Our inner voice either supports us and makes us feel good or undermines our self-esteem and self-worth causing us to feel down. With that in mind I have included in this article a common thinking error called labelling, which can make anyone feel lousy. The simple truth is “You are what you think!”

These days we are more brand aware than ever before. We may not all wear designer clothes or drive expensive cars or even eat designer food, but we are all aware of brands and labels. We make conscious and unconscious judgements about people, their identity and status based on the items they use. Consequently, we will then make judgements and evaluations about our own identity and self-worth.

We may also label others and ourselves by traits, behaviours and actions. Rather than look at the whole person and all their good and bad points, a specific evaluation is accorded to their whole being. For example, “He did a stupid thing, therefore he is stupid”. “She broke a plate, therefore she is clumsy”. It is more helpful to acknowledge when we and others have done something wrong or made a specific error. For example “that was a silly mistake” “that didn’t go down too well”, then we can distinguish between the actions and the person as a whole.

Labelling people makes it more difficult to get on with others and causes hostility if we see them as one-dimensional For example “that guy is a jerk”, “She’s an idiot”. I once worked in a company where one of the IT staff made an error that caused the network to temporarily crash, he soon became known as “TITI” (Titty - The IT Idiot). Needless to say this was very upsetting for the individual concerned - he left a short time afterwards. Labelling is more than name-calling; it is mud that sticks.

When directed at ourselves labelling can cause diminished self-esteem, guilt, self-loathing and depression. We will often acquire negative labels in childhood and early relationships; it is important that we challenge and dispel them rather than continue to wear them on the inside.

A useful exercise is to monitor your inner critic; that voice that you hear through the day that says things such as “I’m not smart enough”, “I’m boring and uninteresting” “I’m too old” “I’m unattractive”. Write these comments down and then dispute, challenge and replace them with more helpful and rational statements such as “I’ve learned a lot and continue to learn”, “I am as interesting as anyone; I have my unique style”, “Age is an irrelevance”, “I’m as attractive as anyone”. This takes a bit of effort, but “you’re worth it”. You will feel better about yourself, increase your self-esteem and discard unwanted mental baggage.

Choose your labels with care!


Phil Pearl DCH, DHP, MCH, GHR Reg

Clinical Hypnotherapist

Mental Toughness Hypnotherapy
10 Harley Street

Tel: 020 7467 8548

Author's Bio: 

Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg

Phil Pearl, clinical hypnotherapist specialising in mental toughness and resilience - helping people to improve their confidence, self-esteem and overcome anxiety and stress. Hypnotherapy in London
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