Meaningful Matters - Eastbourne Herald

I am sure you’ve all heard that age-old saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’? Regrettably, although not surprisingly, we have a tendency to judge people merely by the way they look or sometimes behave. Of course, it would be impossible for us to register the amount of information we process during our lives without the help of labels. We can however be too quick to judge people with an inadequate amount of information.

Labelling starts very early on in our lives; we can become negatively labelled in nurseries and schools, and often these labels stay with us into adulthood. We take this label on as part of our identity and this is at the core of our feeling of self-worth. The problem is that if a child constantly hears these things they could end up believing them.

Researchers told elementary school teachers that a group of their students performed in the top 20% of a test. In reality though, the test was fake and the students were randomly selected. A year later, they found that the children who scored in the top 20% of the “test” outperformed their peers by 10 to 15 IQ points. They concluded that the teachers, who didn’t realize that the test was a fake, pushed these students more with the impression that they were harvesting unseen talent.

Even though for many years Edwina Currie was a successful politician she still labels herself a failure because she didn’t achieve a first at Oxford. James Corden was recently talking about his life and career he said that however good the journey’s been he’ll always be labelled the ‘tubby’ kid from The History Boys. Defining ourselves via our labels can both limit our potential and be incredibly destructive.

People may try to define us by sticking a label on us but that doesn’t mean that they are right or even close to knowing that the label is a valid evaluation of who we really are. Decide who you really are before other people decide for you.