Labels are a social construct that simplifies living. We learn to label things as good or bad, right or wrong as soon as we learn to use language. We are also conditioned to react to the labels we’ve assigned by judging certain things we’ve labeled and desiring others. Over time, this process entrenches us in duality consciousness and prevents us from evolving to higher levels of being.
To evolve in consciousness, it is imperative for us to let go of labels: both “positive” labels we assign to what we cling to, and “negative” labels that we resist. Everything in existence forms part of the union of life; and whatever part we resist, represents an aspect of life we reject. Over time, this process robs us of resiliency and joy.
When we label things, we step back from the totality of its essence to focus on a few specific aspects. That makes it easy for us to react to those aspects with attachment or resistance. In truth, we are not responding to the situation, but rather reacting to the label of our own creation!
Another pervasive problem with labels is the way we use them to hide truth from ourselves, and to avoid coming face to face with who we truly are. We all need careful discernment when it comes to self-evaluation and definition. Identity labels are tricky -it takes great skill to manage them with wisdom and grace. When we fail to do so, we fall into self-deception.
We are not our labels
The more attached we become to the labels of who we perceive ourselves to be, the more we split our awareness to avoid seeing labels and aspects of ourselves that don’t fit our perceptions. If we see ourselves as compassionate, we may ignore our lack of concern for another’s pain. If we see ourselves as spiritual, we may sidestep our more mundane or shadow characteristics, and neglect the necessary process of integration that makes us whole. This process of separation can also blind us to common threads that unite us with all others.
One of the solutions lies in asking ourselves why the labels we choose for ourselves and others mean so much to us. We can – and must – have the courage to question our labels, whether they pertain to spiritual affiliations, political parties, religious beliefs or social status. Granted, labels can be useful to identify allegiance in a complex world. But to the extent we invest them with significance at the cost of excluding other viewpoints, they can also rob us of our freedom.
Imagine what it would be like to let labels fade into the background for a while. How would it feel to drop our labels of worldly status, our labels of ancestral heritage so often wielded as swords of entitlement, and the habitual stories we repeat to label ourselves in ways that define who we are? Who would we be without these labels? Would letting go of our labels turn us into becoming a nobody? Would it empty life of meaning? Or would we discover a deeper, more abiding truth about who we really are?
Before we mastered the language of labels, we existed in the totality of life. Therefore, we are not our labels. The experience of a deeper self, untouched by the slings and arrows of everyday life, is crucial if we wish to break free from the limitations of a label-addicted society. It requires slowing down, becoming fully present, and daring to question our assumptions.
At this time on the planet, we are the ones who are creating the future we will experience. Will we choose fear over love? Are we going to label and judge others to make ourselves feel more self-righteous, or are we going to recognize that the shadow we see in our world exists in us too, so we can heal the shadow, relinquish the labels that separate, and embrace the totality of existence? Will we have the courage to walk our talk or will we sidestep the awesome responsibility that comes with being alive in these extraordinary times?
Many people have been traumatized to some extent over recent events. The loss of loved ones, loss of freedom, loss of financial security, and loss of social connection has had profound effects on everyone. At times, the collective shock has been palpable, reverberating through the Field of consciousness that connects us all. Fear, despair, frustration, disbelief, grief, anger – all have been present as we’ve faced circumstances never encountered before.
Challenges and high levels of uncertainty tend to polarize people. We may regress to a lesser level of consciousness where we seek some safety and reassurance. We may attempt to fight circumstances, or flee from them, or even freeze like a deer in the headlights. In the search for safe ground, we may tighten our circle and cast suspicion on those who have different beliefs. Labels are born from these behaviors, and so conflict arises. These labels separate and weaken us all.
Revealing unity at our core
At the same time, the very destruction of life as we knew it, brims with opportunity for evolution and rebuilding at a higher level. We’re all building foundations for the future, both on a personal and on a societal level. To do so well, we must solidify our own foundation first: Not the labels of who we think we are, but our core identity beneath that – the eternal Self which knows all things as one.
Our true core needs no labels; it simply is. As we connect with this core more, we are able to dissolve the labels of ourselves as “I am this” or “I am not that” to reveal the true I AM which rests beneath it all. Only from this place can we make prudent decisions and discern the wisest action. It invites us to recognize our labels and release our most cherished identities, even for just a moment, to become what lies beneath.
We are so much more than our labels! The more energy we invest in outdated labels of who we habitually thought ourselves to be, the more we will be able to let go of old identities and define who we are becoming now. The radiant and universal Presence in us is neither augmented nor diminished by labels that define ego identity. It far transcends the limitations of our minds, and that is one of the reasons we tend to push Presence outside our conscious awareness while we perpetuate ego labels and identities.
We can break free from this! To free ourselves from these limitations, we have to relinquish the need to be special and regularly immerse ourselves in the sacred field which connects us all. When life subsequently demands that we pick up some identity again – as it inevitably will – we can do so with less emotional attachment and less ego striving. We can learn to wear the limiting mask of identity labels lightly, willing to discard it at any time. We can rest secure in knowing that all such labels are but a pale reflection of the vastness of our spiritual essence. When our consciousness rests in this deeper truth, it infuses our lives with clarity and wisdom for the task at hand.
Honoring the need unplug
This work of finding inner freedom requires discipline, and we also need time to rest. When feeling overwhelmed, it is a reminder that we need to unplug, switch off and return to base. In this technological age where everything happens faster, information overload is rife and screen addiction is everywhere. We need to discern how much technology is enough and where to draw the line. It is perfectly okay to take a break: stare out a window, read a good old-fashioned book, enjoy time with pets and loved ones, sing, pray, dance, walk, run, do yoga, tai chi, or karate.
The challenges on the surface of our lives invite each of us to return to our inner core, to discover who we really are aside from the labels of our world. Notice which interactions bring peace, wisdom and clarity. Lean into these and they will expand the heart. Also notice the painful emotions and triggers that fuel the compulsion to trade inner peace for a self-righteous label or ego opinion. Inner peace is always a mere breath away – available by shifting our attention to the Source of truth and peace within.
How we change the world
By regularly stepping out of the fray, we can root ourselves in the boundless Self from which truth and authenticity flow. We can take a stand while honoring our inner knowing, and we can partake in outer commitments from that inner place of clarity. We can take outer action without losing our connection to our inner truth. We can see beyond surface differences to honor the unified Field that connects us all. Knowing this Field intimately is vital for maintaining our sense of peace, purpose and direction.
During these times of unprecedented change and challenge, imagine what we can accomplish by discarding labels and living in the unified Field from which everything emerges. This is how we will diffuse the separation consciousness and change our world for better.
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