A couple of days ago during one of my psychology classes, we were talking about faulty thought patterns.
One of them is called labelling: describing someone or something in a word or short phrase.
This description seems pretty harmless, as if it’s an important part of how we communicate. But when I heard the examples given I immediately had to think of people who stutter.
“I am a stutterer.”, “I’m just not very outgoing.” and “This isn’t for me.” are all examples of labelling, some more harmful than others.
Again, it seems pretty harmless at first. Seeing yourself as a person who stutters doesn’t have to have negative consequences. Seeing yourself as an introvert might be an accurate view of reality.
Problems arise, however, when people put labels on themselves too fast, when they come to conclusions without the neccesary evidence.
Stuart the introvert
I always thought of myself as an introvert. Being shy, being quiet.
I told myself that I just liked to be alone. Until the point when I realized that I might be lying to myself.
I wanted to try out this “extrovert” thing.
I started throwing myself into the scariest social situations possible. Talking to strangers. Talking to groups of people. During broad day light as well as while out with friends.
Slowly but surely I started to change. I enjoyed meeting new people. Putting myself out there. Expressing myself. Being in the center of attention for once, instead of being a pretty wallflower.
I liked being extrovert.
I realized that I was too quick in labelling myself as an introvert, as being shy. How could I ever call myself that if I didn’t even try the other side of the coin?
I see this kind of faulty and limiting thinking a lot among people who stutter. “I stutter, and I always will.”, “I’m just a shy person, it’s how I was born.” and “These exercises aren’t for me.” get thrown around daily.
I’m not saying those people are wrong, that they aren’t speaking the truth. But what I do want to call them out on is: Have you even tried?
Have you even tried overcoming your stutter? Have you even tried being more outgoing? Have you even tried those exercises?
And with trying I mean trying it out for more than two days. Actually trying, putting in the effort.
If your answer is yes and you end up at the same conclusion: fair enough. You gathered evidence for both sides of the story so your conclusion and label should be justified.
But if you can be honest to yourself and your answer is no, then please don’t rush to conclusions. Try it out first. You never know what you might discover.
The biggest regret of elder people are about things they didn’t do, not about things they did do.
Try it out. Discover and experience.
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