The power of labels and their consequences

When we assign a “label” we essentially frame a judgment, which have an enormous impact and importance in our lives. A label can be an interpretation, an appreciation or an opinion and it has the power to modify the reality of the people affected by the judgment we make. When we label we are subjective, that is, we do it from our own perception and it may not be an objective judgment about another human being.

Human beings have opinions about the weather, food, sports, government, the way others dress, someone’s mood, etc.. We’re always opining about everything around us.

But what happens when we label a person? For example, when someone says “John is lazy”, “Anna is quiet”, “Camila is selfish” or “Mark is very intelligent”. Why do we assign them labels? Why do we judge? When we judge another person, what we also do is generate a prediction of his/her behaviour that can impact the other person and sometimes negatively influence his/her self-esteem, personality, emotions and the way he/she deals with real life situations.

When we express a label or a judgment, we generate a new reality that conditions and affects the labeled person.


That label can open or close a space of actions and relationships between ourselves and what has been judged. The same happens when others pass judgments about us, that is, the expectations that others have from us, which can influence us in a positive or negative way throughout our lives as they form an integral part of our self-esteem.



For example, when a child hears these phrases from the mother “you don’t understand anything” or “you’re stupid”, the child will not have the capacity to consider it as a subjective judgment. But the child will interpret that label as a truth and end up believing it. By constantly repeating a phrase either with a positive or negative connotation towards someone, cause the other person tends to assume that label.

Or, if another person is told that he/she is the most intelligent in their class and interprets it as a truth, he/she will be condemned to constantly fulfil that expectation. In many cases, the suffering of people is a direct result of the labels that are imposed on them since childhood.

When the same people get a bad grade or fail a subject, they’re more likely to enter a situation os crisis owing to the inability to manage the expectations created by their environment.

Unfortunately, as humans, we end up acting in a certain way to avoid those judgments (“he’s lazy”, “he’s not very intelligent”, etc.). Or to achieve those labels (“he’s nice”, “he’s generous”, etc.), instead of giving space to our own identity and to what we truly are.

The greatest challenge in living more freely is to understand and realise that the labels imposed by others are not real objective statements that could cause enormous suffering and condition our own identities.

Psychological intervention can be of significant help in letting go of the labels and judgments that we have upon ourselves.

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Constanza Canónica
Constanza Canónica

Nuna's psychologist. If you need advice to find a therapist, I can help you choose the most suitable one for you!

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