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Last Wednesday, I went to London for the day. As I'm trying to keep commuting days to a minimum, I packed the day with meetings and met up with some wonderful friends in the evening. I had a fabulous day!
On Thursday, I was exhausted. And Friday too. Why was I so exhausted? I put it down to being a "partial introvert". I've always loved socialising and being with other people, but I also need some quiet time alone to recharge my batteries. That's why I was so tired.
Then, I realised I was giving myself a label and that this might be unhelpful. Unhelpful firstly because it potentially stopped me from looking at other reasons that I was exhausted (packed too much into the day, peri-menopause, wine consumption!) and doing things differently next time. But also unhelpful because that label is distilling my whole personality into two words that are wishy-washy at best and contradictory at worst.
Oh the labels we give ourselves. And, being a coach who sometimes uses psychometrics and other similar tools, I often encourage my clients to label themselves too.
Labels can be unhelpful when we use them as an excuse for a certain behaviour or for not doing something, a bit like my tiredness above. If I label myself as an "introvert", that might stop me from doing things that I actually enjoy - public speaking, parties, spending time with friends. The reality is that I am a lot more multi-faceted than just being an introvert.
For years, I didn't plan because I thought that I was just happier to "go with the flow". I'm not a "planner". Then someone (my fabulous business coach, Karen Murray) showed me that planning and executing that plan would free up spare time for me to be creative and "go with the flow" MORE!
What labels do you use that could potentially be getting in your way?
Now, labels can really come into their own when we see them as abundant. As I said earlier, I have many facets of my personality - introverted, extroverted, action-taker, creative, compassionate, independent, learner - I could fill this infinite page with these facets. Why? Because each and every one of us is unique.
Our upbringing, experiences, beliefs, systems and more collide into a beautiful hodge-podge of uniqueness. The assessments that label us, and the labels we give ourselves, can be a guide to help us understand our own unique pattern. And this can be REALLY helpful as long as we make sure that we are not using (or over-using) just one or two of those labels.
And now for your kaleidscope. A kaleidoscope has many different colours and shapes contained within it - think of this as the myriad facets of your personality. In any given moment, we can shake the kaleidoscope and those different colours and shapes make a unique pattern; a different pattern each time.
So, in different environments and situations, we respond differently and our unique colours and shapes can make different patterns. And that's beautiful.
I encourage you to start your own label collection. Don't stop at 1 or 2, gather as many as you like. Keep them visible and think of them as your toolkit that can guide you in life and can help you to deal with difficult situations. And, if you need to, give that kaleidoscope a shake and try a different approach!
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