Why Labeling People Makes You Look Dumb

by Mike
Why Labeling People Makes You Look Dumb

Our brains want to keep things simple.

It’s much easier to slap a label on someone, and proceed to neatly place them within a mental ‘storage bin,’ than it is to attempt to truly understand someone and the complexities behind their behaviors.

“He’s just an asshole.”

“She’s a crazy bitch.”

Or conversely:

“He’s perfect.”

“She’s my dream girl.”

These are simplistic examples of a lazy mind deleting and distorting the character of person and reducing them down to a single label. Labeling is a form of cognitive distortion, which are the short comings of what I refer to as our auto-brain.

We all do it

The unexamined auto-brain loves to neatly organize our environments (good, bad, safe, fun), and then relax. It’s really really lazy. The same lazy auto-brain stays running when evaluating the people and situations that come into our lives. Our brains quickly start trying to categorize — good? bad? right? wrong? smart? dumb? bitch? cool? redneck? hippy? asshole? fun? douche? superficial? etc.

This is based in lazy thinking. Mr./Miss auto-brain doesn’t want to take the time and energy to understand the complexities of a person or situation, so instead it looks for a quick and convenient label.

I catch myself all the time trying to chalk someone up as ‘this’ or ‘that.’ But the reality is no-one is ‘this’ or ‘that.’ We are all a giant bouncy ball of complexity that got thrown into a room filled with angles and objects. Nothing is black and white. Everything is part of an infinite combination of color.

Here’s the truth

Instead of “she’s a crazy bitch” maybe it’s “in this particular situation, she acted in a way that was irrational.”

Instead of “she’s my dream girl” maybe it’s “so far, she is someone who possesses many of the qualities I’m looking for.”

Don’t misinterpret this.

This doesn’t mean you don’t have standards for the behavior of people around you. It doesn’t mean you become overly tollerant and therefore get tranformed into a worn down, trappled on, doormat. It doesn’t mean you don’t get to experience being infatuated with someone either.

On the contrary, it means you are able to more accurately see people and situations for what they are. You are able to see the colors, and enjoy the many hues rather than living in a boring-ass black and white world. You are able to see the complexity within yourself, other people, and situations, which actually makes is possible to enjoy them all more fully.

I’d rather live in a color filled world, than a dead black and white one.

Wouldn’t you?

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