How to unlabel yourself
Updated: Dec 1, 2022
“Labels can also create self-fulfilling prophecies. If you are told you are sick, you feel and act sick, and others treat you as if you are sick.”― Allen Frances.
When we look at mental illness, labels are everywhere. But are they always accurate? What if the label we carry is false or not even needed? I looked closely at the labels I collected throughout the years and realized they were all wrong. I did not need them to define who I was, so I decided to get rid of them one day.
Labeling theory was first applied to the term “mentally ill” in 1966 when Thomas J. Scheff published Being Mentally Ill. Scheff challenged common perceptions of mental illness by claiming that mental illness is manifested solely as a result of societal influence. He argued that society views specific actions as deviant. To come to terms with and understand these actions, society often labels mental illness on those who exhibit them. Clear expectations are set on these individuals, and, over time, they unconsciously change their behavior to fulfill them. 
WHY ARE PEOPLE AFRAID OF LABELS
Between 30 to 80 percent of the people who experience mental health issues don’t want to seek help because they are afraid of the label they’re going to get. http://davidsusman.com/2015/06/11/8-reasons-why-people-dont-get-mental-health-treatment/
A label can affect many things;
- Fear and shame;
- Your behavior can change because of the label;
- A label puts you in a protocol-base treatment program;
- Health insurance policies that don’t adequately cover mental health conditions;
- Fewer opportunities for work, school, social activities, or trouble finding housing;
- Increased psychiatric symptoms and reduced prognosis;
- Social isolation;
- Lack of understanding by family, friends, coworkers, or others;
If labeling has such a significant impact on our behavior, would it not be better to stop labeling so quickly and take the time to dig deeper into the root of the problem of our mental illness? Why do we need to think of illness straight away? Why can we not approach the mind from a different angle first? From my experience, the average time to get labeled was after 45 minutes sessions. Primarily by someone, I had never spoken to before. Based on just answering a few questions, my life suddenly changed. Why do we allow this? Do we want a label so severe? So we can define ourselves and our mental state of being?
TOO MANY LABELS
I got all sorts of labels throughout the years ( depression, PTDS, anxiety, bipolar II ). It wasn't obvious. Almost as if you have to get labeled when you feel mentally off. Cause without the label, how do they know how to treat you?
Unfortunately, my behavior changed because of those labels, and my mental illness worsened. It gave me an excuse to feel and act the wrong way. My labels became a lame excuse for uncalled behavior.
If the label you carry is wrong, how can it help you? I felt like all those labels put me in certain societal places, and I agreed to stay there. It created a comfort zone that was attached to those labels. [ what if your mental illness becomes your comfort zone] I became my mental illness because of the label that I carried with me, and the label stopped me from thinking that I could be without and become mentally healthy. Your thinking process is crucial in unlabeling yourself. If your thoughts are thinking that you are mentally ill, you will believe you are and act accordingly. I knew that my only way out would be to change my thinking process, and that process would ultimately change my behavior. [ you are not your mind ]
The mind gets attached to labels and creates a behavior around them based on your thoughts. Once your thoughts are locked in on our label, you will find it hard to believe there is a way out. Your mind will trick you into thinking that you ARE your label - a false thought. But there is a way out. By daily training your mind, you will see that you do not need a label to define your state of being. To free yourself from your label, It is good to look at it objectively and set up a plan to become mentally stronger to drop your label.
Do you feel that you carry labels around that are false? If so, why and what would you like to do about it? Let's talk about it in the comments below.