Your power lies in how you see yourself. If you see yourself as strong and powerful and capable, that’s what you are. If you see yourself as less than that, that’s what will show up.
How do you see yourself?
Before you read on, take two or three minutes to write down a few words that describe you. Think about your personality, your skills, your passion. You can also write down a few things you’d like to change about yourself.
Are those observations positive? Or are they mostly negative? How you see yourself affects who you become.
How others see you
Now list the qualities others see in you. If you’re not certain, ask your friends.
Compare the two lists – how you see yourself and how others see you. Who are you going to believe? Are you going too hard on yourself?
Years ago, I began to keep an acknowledgment list. I wrote down the kind things people said about me, along with the name of who said it and the date. When I was feeling less than confident, I would read those comments and could see how people saw me as much more capable than I sometimes saw myself.
I still keep that acknowledgment list. It helps me stay aware of how I’m touching lives and hearts.
A label can help you change
The impact of my work relates primarily to internal change. That change is so subtle it is hard to recognize let alone describe. So when I receive a positive comment, it feels supportive of my choices even though I know in my heart I am on the right track as I offer ideas for positive change.
If there’s a quality you’d like to expand, practice doing it for a week.
If I want to be more thoughtful of others, I take every opportunity to expand my ability to do that. If I want to help my introverted self be more sociable, I need to practice showing up at events.
A label can help you see yourself differently
I had a huge personal shift when a series of events helped me see myself as a verbal artist and thus made it okay for me to be as introspective as I am. Qualities that I perceived as limiting turned into strengths.
A friend who had been putting herself out as a proofreader and editor mentioned that she enjoyed doing presentations coaching and she wants to begin to do more of that. That was not how she was putting herself out in the world.
Recently, I noticed that she had added Presentations Coach to her email signature. That was huge!!!! She was taking ownership of a new label. She was trying it out. She was getting comfortable with it.
What label would you like for yourself?
Some of the labels I would like to apply to myself feel too lofty for me to achieve. But what if I pretend? What if I dress up in the labels that appeal to me and see how they feel? What would they be?
I started to write that at 83 there are a few labels that aren’t going to happen without a lot of work; labels such as “strong” and “vigorous”. Until I realized that compared to a lot of older people, and even to many who are younger than me, I am still strong and vigorous.
Do I want to be a well-known writer? Not particularly; but I would very much like to know that my words change lives. And I do know that they do. I can tell by the number of posts opened and podcasts listened to and emails I receive.
I’ve worn several versions of the coach label. I realize that how I want to express that label today is to create courses that use my gift for creating introspective processes to help people sing a deeper song – whatever their song turns out to be. So my label changes from “content development coach” to softer definitions like “guide” and “teacher”.
But even these no longer fit, as I see my work as simply walking beside others to shine my light, my awareness, on their path. I have chosen softer words because I am living a softer life.
How labels limit how we see others
How easy it is to apply a label to someone. It can be about their physical appearance like cute, handsome, short, tall, or it can be about their personality, perhaps bubbly, serious, talkative, demanding.
But these are only momentary conclusions we have reached based on the situations in which we met those persons.
My introversion has made me be perceived as standoffish. My intelligence has been interpreted as “she thinks she’s up there and we’re down here.” But there’s no up and down, there are just different puddles we play in.
Rethink how you have labeled someone. I know a person who seems very negative and judgmental. I think underneath she simply wants to be approved of and loved. I know someone who is very skilled at what he does and yet from our conversations, I know there’s a lot of self-judgment and uncertainty standing in his way.
Does your label limit you?
Notice how you label yourself. See if you can reword it. I work with “spiritual philosopher.” And I’m still growing into that. Spiritual is easy; “philosopher” is a label I still need to own.
What are you comfortable calling yourself? If you’re not comfortable with a label but want to see yourself in that new light, look at yourself in the mirror and practice calling yourself that. Introduce yourself with your new label until you believe it of yourself.
How a label can help you take action
Trying on a label is a good way to explore a new direction. If I decide to label myself as a motivational speaker, I’m going to start acting like a person who motivates and inspires by the words they speak. I will learn to craft talks. I will study my delivery, my gestures, my voice intonations. I will improve my skill and see how it feels.
I actually did a version of this. I do monologue podcasts. That means, it’s me giving a talk. I happen to craft a script because that’s how I’m comfortable working for now.
One day, I recorded a too-long, too-wordy podcast and realized I didn’t have the right framework. I went to Craig Valentine’s book, World Class Speaking, and found an outline for a talk. I put that in my podcast template, wrote my next script to that format and it was the best script I had created so far.
I’m not a live speaker, but I do communicate with words. I’m not going to label myself motivational or even inspirational. Those labels restrict me. What I am is a person of the heart. Now that’s a label I can grow into.
The label you choose defines you.
How do you label yourself? What less-than labels are you applying to yourself and how would you like to change that?
To Sing a Deeper Song consider:
How to Develop Your Distinctive Voice
Fitting In Is Not What You Do To Be Extraordinary
How Often Do You Redefine Yourself?
Is Everything You Know Still True?
Are You in the Right Room?
Engage in the Power of trust
30 – The No Plan Plan
27 – Why Have You Been Chosen
28 – How to Walk Beside Someone in Service