Let’s be honest, everybody uses labels. We use labels to define one another, whether it’s how big our houses are or how many countries you have visited – certain things become labels and they define us.

However, using labels for yourself can pigeonhole you, it can make you feel as though you are defined by that very label, and it can strip you of your happiness.

Here are 5 labels that you should stop using to define yourself.

1. Do not be defined by your past

Everybody has things in their past that they want to put behind them. Sometimes, that isn’t always possible and our ghosts can haunt us for a long time. However, that doesn’t mean it has to define you. Use your scars as something to build a new future upon.

2. Do not be defined by your skills & knowledge

Allowing other people to define how intelligent you are, how much knowledge you have or how skillful you are will bring you down. You are aware of your own abilities and others cannot use this against you to define you.

Be confident in your own strengths and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

3. Do not define yourself by negative traits

There are some traits that suit our personality, but that we don’t want to define us as it impacts us negatively. For example, being shy. Sure, a person may be shy and that may be a defining aspect of their personality.

However, constantly defining somebody as something that they may see as negative and something they’re trying to get away from can have a negative impact.

4. Do not allow your illness to define you

Whether it’s in relation to a physical illness or a mental illness – you are more than your illness. You cannot be defined by any one particular aspect, so do not allow yourself to be so.

Accept your illness as a part of you, not that you are a part of it.

5. Don’t allow yourself to be defined by your role

Whether you’re a mother, a carer, a lawyer or a secretary. Those are all just roles and shouldn’t define who you are as a person. Don’t allow labels to bring you down or pigeonhole you in one particular role.

Being happy is about understanding who you are and using labels can take away from that confidence. Following these five ways, you shouldn’t define yourself can make you feel a lot happier.

Do you allow labels to define you? Let us know in the comments.

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This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Colin Stone

    I’d like to add one more. “Do not be defined by your culture/race”. Too often I head people referred to as “a black”, “a native”, “the elderly”, etc. People are individuals and should not be defined – nor define themselves – by the colour of their skin, rather as Dr Martin Luther King Jr said, “by the content of their character”. You live inside your skin; you are not your skin.

    1. Marie K

      I so agree!

  2. James

    This was an excellent article. I am involved in programs to stop stigma, which is a huge issue in today’s society and has been for hundreds of years. With proper education and legislation we can make this world a much safer place to be ourselves without repercussions

  3. Thea Dunlap

    A very well written article. Points 2 and 3 is how a labeled myself before. But after a good motivational push from my friends and family, I have more confidence in myself than before. 🙂

  4. Gabriel Woods

    When it comes to severe mental illness I think one issue is that the person identifies with all the symptoms they are told they have. An expert has told them so all the information given must be true. So people end up with more symptoms than they had originally, of course it`s sometimes more complicated than that. I remember reading ” remind the person they have bipolar, not they are bipolar, so their mental health issues don`t define them.”

  5. jess quigley

    I read these items frequently and remain puzzled that there are so many people that eat at themselves so frequently and become introverted. Human nature is so enjoyable, people are a great study, interesting, fun and absolutely unpredictable. Worry about others opinion is a huge anchor of self doubt. God didn’t accidently make us different, SHE did it on purpose. So go forth (or fifth, if you wish) and enjoy doing what we’re meant to do. We wish our children to be happy and being God’s children, Methinks God wishes us to be happy. Play nice, don’t fight.

  6. Nancy

    This is a wonderful and timely article. I have defined myself with all of labels for a very long time. Guess what? I have totally trashed my self-esteem as a result, and am trying to figure out how to get out of the hole I’m in. Thank you for a helpful roadmap!

  7. Ujjwal


  8. last

    under #3 Do not define yourself by negative traits — “For example, being shy.” I really do not believe that shyness is a good example of a negative trait that defines us.. but that’s just me. My child is shy and has friends and is just fine. I believe that actually it is other people who are the ones that want to “define” or better yet criticize and making it a negative light to maybe bring shame or even embarrassment, that which would make a shy person feel that is a bad or negative trait. Which it is not. Trust me there are worse things that are negative traits. There is nothing negative about shyness or even introversion. But as I said that is my view, my opinion.

  9. Tod

    I had an industrial injury 5 days before the WTC disaster and between losing my income, career and over the next few months, my family, in a matter of days I lost a lot of friends. I have tried for 2 decades now to find a way to fit back into this world and as I try and explain that I still have an active working mind, my body has limitations. I read things like this, and they help. And then I am still wondering how to get those thoughts out of my head and into action. Thank you for this article.

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