How to Re-Write Your Internal Sticky Notes
As a human being you have a natural inclination to label things. This is how you make sense of the world, and how you can feel safe and secure in knowing that you have a grasp on your life.
In addition to labeling things in your external world, you also label yourself.
Over the course of your life you have affixed internal sticky notes all over yourself that have stemmed from your relational experiences with others and the world. Every person will have a different set of labels based on the messaging received from the external world, and from internal experiences of the self while growing up.
For example you might have been inscribed with labels like “pretty” or “smart”. Or perhaps you were marked as “difficult” or “sensitive”. All of these labels slowly become your identity, and you become that person.
If you think about any label whether it’s on food or in an article of clothing, it gives a description of what the product contains or offers. There is no subjectivity to the process of choosing something based on its label. The information provided is just pure objective fact. It’s not until you purchase or taste the product that you can actually know if that label reflects what it promised.
The labeling that happens with the self doesn’t have to be this concrete, and you don’t have to wait for someone else to tell you who you are or what you contain.
You get to label yourself based on who you want to be, and the most auspicious way to do this is by re-visiting all those sticky notes and tossing out the ones that were never accurate, or no longer fit.
As you go through life you have the opportunity to re-evaluate yourself and gain a deeper understanding of your qualities and traits. This will be based on a combination of your own self-perception and the feedback you receive from the world.
For example, if you have been labeled “controlling” perhaps you actually experience yourself as being driven. The label of controlling has a negative connotation, and it’s not the full story of what is actually behind that label.
What you have learned about yourself up until now is not inscribed. It’s temporarily affixed and can be rewritten at any time.
You can also think of this in terms of multiple labeling. There might be one main label that describes an aspect of who you are like “mother”. If you break that down into sub-categories you may also decide that you are “nurturing” or “patient” as a byproduct of being a mother. Perhaps these can be seen as the ingredients that go into the container of being a mother.
This concept of being able to re-write your own labels is very freeing and empowering.
None of us like to be misperceived. When external perceptions don’t align with internal representations the result is a painful experience of an incongruent self.
The way to solidify self-perception is to be the author of your own identity.
The more flexible and descriptive you can be with your identities, the greater your chances will be of feeling seen accurately by the outer world. Remaining confined to harsh labels or ideas about who you are pigeonholes you into being something you’re not, or even worse, only a fraction of who you are.
What’s on your internal sticky notes right now?
How can you re-label yourself in a more accurate way?