About, Musings on Life

Comparison as Reductionist

I have been considering labeling recently. As a society, we like to label. Fitting people into concrete categories is “easier”.  I find labeling to be useful at times, but I also see how it is reductionist. We can use labels in a negative way and look at other people as stereotypes rather than seeing who they are. We hope if we can just figure out our personality type everything will make sense. This may seem harmless when we are labeling ourselves, but I do not think so. If our friend is similar to someone else we always assume they are like that other person, we are not seeing their unique identity and in a way we are limiting their possibility. I do not mean they are now less, I mean in our minds we do not see them for who they are but as a stand in for someone they are similar to.  These labels may seem positive and self affirming. We may own these labels, but still they cut us short. I find we use labels as stand-ins for true knowing. We may own one part of our identity as a way to hide another. We may focus on our career as our defining feature and neglect or use it to cover our struggles in creating relationships. There is definite place for positive thinking, but I find when we are lying to ourselves or trying to hide from others it means we need to take a closer look and heal things we are struggling to accept, to find compassion for ourselves.

I think though even with the best intentions that we are not able to be kept in a box.  I personally struggle with this quite a bit, am I an introvert or an extrovert? What enneagram number am I? I struggle so much I try to get my husband to choose a box for me, because none of them really feel like they fit. No box can fully encompass me, nor can a box fully encompass you. We are unique and knowing that we need to be careful with how we label and how we categorize the world. We need to be cognizant that it is a false proxy that does not actually say much.


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