The desire to be defined rather than defining

How many of us still do pop quizzes to define ourselves among our peers? Me!


We don’t have to share the results, but if they are flattering it makes us feel nice. That’s good, surely? We have an insatiable human desire to see where we fit, what characteristics we can embrace, which lineage we can claim a link with, where we eat out, party, meet up and with whom. The books we read, movies we watch, the social media we use and share our lives through – these things can be defining for those who are concerned with surface tribal identity and fabulous for marketing companies!

Some of us live closer to that surface than we want others to realise, because being honest isn’t as popular in real life. Those of us who are strident in pushing personal beliefs because we have a set of principles, can be and are treated as eccentric at best. Unless the media get behind us, and we have a great agent and looks to die for, because for the most part public honesty had better be good looking, folks! ‘Thems the breaks, but that’s another conversation.

I came across a concept called spiral dynamics. Interesting enough idea initially, all about different levels of psychology and spirituality linked to human evolution and represented by colours for the human psyche, starting with the most basic needs of hand to mouth ‘beige’. Hope that’s a fair analysis. I won’t go through all the colours, but these can be used in more than one way. However, as attractive as the colours seem they are still metaphors with new labels.

The colour labels can be very useful to those like Tony Robbins (the guy is growing on me), when used honestly and with the understanding that we have different levels of every aspect of our personality, which vary through circumstance and experience.

Like a massive number of people, I too have seen him coach on Youtube. He has more than enough charisma to take the audience with him and his use of spiral dynamics was far more engaging than the original stuff I’ve read. No, I am not affiliated and have never paid for any of his stuff, as far as can be recollected.

I watched Tony do what every top coach does, but at a lightening speed that only a trusted guru can achieve with an audience. He moved people through their perception of their reality and how it affected their lives and those around them to actual reality. Once there he helped them accept themselves and those affecting their lives and then move forward towards what they truly desired. Masterly stuff. This happened, not because he told them so, but because he helped them to tell him, with them participating in the process. Perfect coaching.

We all think we have some label which fits. For women, sometimes it’s a fashion disaster like an overly tight blouse. If we stand up straight enough it won’t show, right? Wrong. No one cares about the coloyr of a blouse if your slip is showing. 🙂

Witnessing people actively assuming labels, including invincible drunks is interesting. We all label ourselves to some extent and sometimes spend a huge amount if energy and money asserting a label, but does it really fit? No one thinks a drunk is truly ‘The man!’ unless they mean the guy they want to point away from their shoes on a night out.

When we find ourselves shifting about uncomfortably when faced with our label and its consequences, what do we do? Retrench? Justify? Escape? Redefine?

If you believe that you are more than other peoples perception of you, you must at least accept your responsibility for how you are viewed. Perhaps they do not think as badly of you as you imagine. Perhaps you are spending a bit too much time assuming they are thinking about you in that way. Labels really are all in our own heads, apart from the ones on our backs and those we travel in. If you really want to get anew one (let’s face it everything can be labelled), then you deserve to have one you are comfortable carrying, based on your truth and your goals. This is where coaching can help.

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