In society we are often told to conform to certain norms instead of being open and focused on discovering the truth about ourselves and the universe. From the time we are born till much later into adulthood we are programmed to worry about what other people think of us. We label ourselves and others based on generalised notions of what we ‘should’ be like with respect to age group, gender, physical traits, social status, race, beliefs, career and behaviour styles.
From being labelled as ‘aloof’ or ‘autistic’ when we are not socially malleable, to being labelled as ‘weird’ or ‘a freak’ when you are unique in your way of thinking, to being called ‘disabled’ when you simply have different abilities, labelling can often lead to a feeling of being judged, a suggestion that there is something ‘wrong’ with us if we do not confirm to social parameters and an indoctrination into social structures through various systematic approaches and interventions that are designed to mould us into what others want us to be. Here are some reasons of why and how we can avoid some of the traps and pitfalls of labelling and stereotypes.
- Focusing on what really matters: Instead of worrying about whether you ‘fit into’ social perceptions regarding how we should behave with respect to our age, gender and the unwritten rules of social conduct, we might find that focusing upon our health, wellbeing, inner joy and self-development could be far more beneficial as these are things that actually matter for each and every person in the world. Instead of these core or essential values we have been distracted by social expectations of how to talk, how to dress and how to behave that keep us engrossed in outer life instead of delving deeper within ourselves.
- Evolving higher than the norms: If all people were to ‘fit into’ specific parameters of thinking and behaving nobody would ever discover anything new. We would constantly imitate the crowd instead of learning new things, trying new ways of living or progressing higher than generic social norms already prevalent in society. We would cease to grow and evolve any higher than the level most people are at if we continue to conform to whatever is believed, practiced and preached to the masses by our predecessors. Innovation, self-realization and transformation can only take place when we have the courage to step out of the matrix of widely prevalent routines, rules and expectations.
- Complete self-acceptance: Society would always say something or the other regarding how we are and how we are supposed to be ‘vis-a-vis’ other ‘normal’ people. Stereotypes regarding the right clothing, makeup, choice of vocation, body-type, hobbies and interests can sometimes feel restrictive. We all develop different personalities, talents, physiques and points of view over time and none of these by themselves can totally define who we really are. We need to keep expanding our minds and allow ourselves to not be limited by partial notions of who we are that labels confine us or make us feel inferior. We are more than just a gender, a profession, a belief system, a physical body, an ethnic group or nationality. By letting go of all such labels we can embrace a full acceptance of our true self.
- Equality: Stereotypes regarding gender, spirituality, race, cultures can all influence us consciously and subconsciously with false ideas such as ‘pink is a feminine colour’, or ‘white is more positive than black’, or that ‘gurus are men with long beards’. Skewed notions such as these can often result in gender and racial discrimination through ways that seem totally normal as per rules commonly accepted in society. Notions of what is masculine or feminine in fashion, in terms of career and false perceptions regarding ‘black or dark being evil versus white being good’, or that the creator of our universe is ‘God or He and not as Goddess or She’ need to be discarded from our everyday thinking, language, choices and spirituality.
- Staying non-judgemental: By letting go of outward perceptions based on appearances we can avoid judging each other through our limited thinking. We need to focus more on who we are instead of judging other people as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ‘deserving’ or ‘undeserving’. We can never truly know another person because we hardly know enough about ourselves. The people we come across in our life often reflect our inner thoughts and characteristics that are hidden within us. By realizing that everything we encounter is either a reflection or a shadow of our own energy, we can let go of judgements and embrace our light.
- Awakening our consciousness: Most scientific and spiritual breakthroughs and enlightenments are thanks to those people who did not conform to outer conditioned ideas and focused instead of raising their own awareness of who they are. Through meditation and self-realization we automatically begin to shed all our labels and dissolve into a higher light of truth. We begin to remember that our soul does not belong to any race, any gender, or any of the narrow definitions that are used to divide us. Instead we start uniting through unconditional love by realizing our interconnection as one consciousness that is flowing within all beings. We also begin to work on developing inner skills, powers and qualities that pave our path towards the light.