I remember years ago back when I was doing massage for a living, I was out at a big Hollywood party for one of my clients. I had on a black sexy dress, make up and had gotten my hair blown dried. I was talking with a group of people, some of which I knew and some I had just met. We were talking about everything and of course I added my take and opinions to the conversation. One of the guys I was talking with said,” Lori I love the way you think, you really give a unique and different perspective on life that’s really thought provoking”. Then someone agreed and said,” you are really wise, where did you go to college?” I replied, “ I didn’t. “ Then a few of them looked at each other and changed the subject and this time when I added my thoughts it was as if they didn’t even hear me. Later on that night I was hanging out with some friends when a friend of one of the girls came over and started talking with us, he asked what I did for a living, I said “massage therapist”, he said,” well you don’t look like a masseuse” I asked, “ well what’s a masseuse supposed to look like and he said not hot like you “. People only see what their limited beliefs and perceptions allow them to see.
When we stereotype others we only see a piece of who that person really is, usually our projection of our own perception. It’s a limited and one-dimensional way to think.
We all have done it at some point; God knows I have. When telling my friends about my dating adventures I use to say I have a date with “ the nice one”,” the investment banker”, “the funny guy”, “the hot one “, “ the marrying kind “.. Labeling is like looking at someone with blinders on ,you end up super focused on one part of them and not seeing the whole picture of all they have to offer and who they fully are.
We are all multi dimensional beings. All of us have many amazing qualities as well as not so wonderful aspects of ourselves. Some of us are afraid to express these different parts of ourselves for fear of rejection or insecurity. Maybe someone in your past told you it was bad, stupid or not ok to be or do that? My brother told me about this life coach he was working with that had him look at all the different hats he wore. I loved this concept. He wore the hats of a dad, brother, son, black belt, teacher, boss, coach, husband, student and friend. He saw that when he wore the different hats they were just different ways to self-express his energy. I do this a lot with my new mom clients, after they have the baby they are very caught up in being the mom in time when they are ready I help them slowly reclaim and express all the aspects of themselves. The other day I worked with a mother who felt stuck and depressed saying she was a mom that’s all she was. I did the hat thing with her by the end she was wearing 45 hats, which included a photographer and artist. She reclaimed so many parts of herself and is now expressing herself thru her art .We need to accept, embrace, express and show the world all the different aspects and parts of ourselves not only will we become more interesting to ourselves and to others but it will allow us to become more well rounded individuals allowing for true unique self-expression and creativity.
I have a girlfriend who was stereotyped as smart and intellectual ( by the way she is so much more then just that !!! She is gorgeous ,sexy , funny , kind ,wise , spiritual …… and so much more )!!!. I remember years ago when we first became friends a mutual acquaintance that knew both of us couldn’t believe that we had become such good friends. He labeled me as “ The wild, fun one and her the brainy girl. His limited perception didn’t allow him to see the common parts of us that brought our friendship together. We bonded over that we both were smart, fun, wild, love nature, health and healing, shopping, travel, I could go on and on … If we weren’t comfortable expressing all these different parts of ourselves with out our limiting blinders on we would have never seen each other and become the best of friends.
People can get caught up and find security in what they are stereotyped as and get attention and validation for being. I hear people labeling me as the wise intuitive healer. Yes that is a part of me but only a piece of the bigger picture of who I really am. I will admit that’s where I feel the safest and most powerful expressing myself. So when I am not feeling comfortable or good enough I turn up the juice and step into that role, its something I need to watch over doing. A friend of mine goes major intellectual , another friend becomes overly sexual while someone else I know becomes the caretaker and a client I work with becomes a comedian . Something to ponder on: Where do you stereo type others and get caught up in labeling yourself? Where are you not allowing yourself to be fully expressed and seen and why? What role do you feel the safest and most secure in expressing? What hats do you wear and how can you wear them all and be ok being seen in and comfortable fully expressing them ?