Episode #6: “Put a Label on It” – How Names Provide Clarity

"Put a Label on It" – How Names Help Provide Clarity Renaisearch – Andrew Lueth

Put a Label on It

Lets talk about labels and names. The difficulty of talking about something that has no name, the clarity that names provide and the powerful negative and positive effects of labeling yourself a certain way.

Have you ever felt like something was bothering you, something you could not really describe? Do you feel a kind of anxiety or grasp? And have you ever felt relieved once
that certain something was defined and clear for you to see? Or do you struggle with keeping your commitments or resolutions?

In those cases it might be helpful to find a label for yourself or give a name to that certain something.

Without names you can not talk or really think about something, because you can not relate to something. Without a name or label it lacks context and has no real distinction from everything else.

A name gives you a certain kind of power and control over something. because you can point your finger at it and clearly put it in relation to everything else. It gains certain definitions and characteristics by descriing it and can be refered to.

There is a great example in J.K Rowlings famous bookseries “Harry Potter”: Voldemort, who everyone just calls “he who shall not be named” or the “Dark Lord”.

In a way this is actually very symbolic: Everyone is afraid to name Voldemort and really talk about him, afraid to face the unknown in a way. This gives him on the other hand tremendous power, because he can not be grasped. The only two people who call Voldemort by his name (and even his real name “tom riddle”) are also the only people Voldemort himself is afraid of: Harry and Dumbledore.

There is a passage in the books where Dumbledore says to harry:

“Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”

Albus Dumbledore

Fear or uncertainty of a certain thing often causes you to shy away from facing it, from looking at it. Naming something by its proper name requires you to really take a good look at it and define it. By doing this you face the issue and gain clarity.

Labeling yourself a certain way or giving yourself a chosen name, also carries a great power.

Take certain political views or a chosen lifestyle for example:

Vegans or vegetarians as well as convinced carnivores or paleo-people clearly label themselves that way. They truly believe in the lifestyle they have chosen and identify with it. They take that label or name to clearly distinguish themselves from others and to signal their choice. Carrying a label also gives them a feeling of belonging to a group, to other people carrying the same label. It also creates a kind of commitment where acting against the related convictions becomes a quite personal issue that would create a kind of identity problem – so you stick to your chosen label and act accordingly, which can benefit you in that case.

Another, rather negative way of self-labeling are old, outdated and destructive views of yourself that you still carry around with you and that create a similar kind of identity problem if you act against them, but in this case, acting against them would actually benefit you.

What you can certainly do, is to use the power of your identification with your consciously chosen label to guide your subconscious in the way that you consciously find meaningful for you.

Let me give you some questions to reflect upon before ending todays episode:

Think about the examples I gave you earlier:

“Is there something that seems to bother you, but somehow you can not describe or name?”

“What name or label could you give that certain something, just to be able to relate to it?”

“Is there a positive, self-chosen label that you could carry to help you stick to your decisions, convictions or resolutions? What label could that be?”

“Is there any unconsciously chosen, negative or destructive self-image that keeps you from acting in a way that would benefit you? What label could that be?”

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper names

Confucius

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