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Labelling Thinking Errors

Labelling and categorising experiences into specific groups is a common human trait done with the aim of simplifying the complexity of life around us.

Human beings tend to have a habit of ‘labelling’ people or things in a way that is very general and not very useful.

For example, people who have low self-esteem may label themselves as ‘useless’, ‘worthless’ or ‘inadequate’.

If you label somebody as ‘useless’ or ‘no good’ then it becomes very easy to lose your temper with them. If you label the World as ‘unfair’ or ‘unjust’ then you are making a simple judgement about something highly complex that is just not accurate.

labelling thinking errors - don't limit yourself label!

Other examples of labelling include:

  • You read a newspaper article about the rise in crime in your local town which activates your belief that you really do live in ‘crime-town’ which contributes to you feeling anxious and stressed.
  • You receive a low mark in an exam and despite previous high marks, decide to label your self as ‘a failure’.
  • You get angry when you get cut-up by an other road user. You label him as a ‘lunatic’ who should be banned from driving and making you angry.

How to Avoid Labelling

Learn to accept that people and situations are complex and happen for a massive variety of different reasons rather than that certain people are ‘idiots’ or ‘lunatics’.

  • Is your local town really such a no-go area, or is it more realistic to say that there are some areas where crime is higher than others, but on the whole a pretty safe town?
  • During your lifetime you will encounter thousands of unique and infinitely variable human beings, each with their own beliefs and strategies. Does it really make sense to label people into such small groups according to what YOU believe?

Learn to appreciate complexity and variety and stop trying to define things with such generalised labels.

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