Releasing Attachments to Judgmental LabelsMay 1st, 2008 by John Wolfe
A large portion of our personal interpretation, concerning reality, stems from our willingness to slap labels on experiences. Admittedly, it’s extremely difficult to not label items, events and other people, when we consider our entire means for communicating is dependent upon descriptive terms and phrases.
But, we can begin to make a conscious effort, in the language we choose, to rearrange the stamps and marks of identification which are slung around on a routine basis. Even more importantly, we can begin to internally release our attachment and affinity for casting a very specific type of label: the label of judgment.
While there are many forms of judgmental labels, the specific ones I’ll be focusing on in this post are those of right and wrong. We are immediately brought up with the idea that doing the right thing will continue to garner “love” from those in positions of authority i.e. parents, teachers, mentors, relatives, the community, law enforcement, etc. And of course, conversely, we have it drilled into us that doing the wrong thing will bring just the opposite.
The majority of parents and caregivers in no way feel they are literally taking their love away when a child behaves in a manner that’s deemed poorly or unacceptable. However, when parents immediately begin placing conditions upon their responses to children’s behavior, they are in fact placing conditions upon their loving responses toward those children as well.
In other words, do “X” activity and mommy/daddy will be so happy that she’ll/he’ll sing your praises from the rooftops. Do “Y” activity and you will make daddy/mommy very angry and forced to punish you. This, in a sense, is placing conditions on the loving emotions parents are willing to express at certain times. Most would have a tendency to deny it, but it’s extremely difficult to find the emotion of love when you’re fuming mad.
Because of this, children begin to see a trend in the emotional frailty of their parents. As they are constantly reminded of the correlation between their behavior and their parents’ responses, they begin to identify and attach heavily to the labels of doing right and doing wrong or being good and being bad.
Children also begin to believe it’s appropriate (through watching adult behavior) to place conditions on their own responses to their surroundings. Often times, when they encounter something that doesn’t appease them, they have a melt down. Hence, children have tantrums when adults say no and adults have their own emotional tantrums when the kids act up. It’s a learned cycle.
I’m not insinuating we should remove discipline from a child’s environment. I am suggesting we need to find ways to not make the distinction so extremely obvious when children displease us, compared to when they make us happy. It’s this extreme distinction that pounds labeling and the idea of conditional responses to specific behavior into a child’s head.
This doesn’t mean we should ignore our own emotional responses as adults either. It only means we need to do a better job of relaxing and releasing the need to express them so drastically and dramatically. It also means we need to find a balance when disciplining children, especially in the language we use, which is typically filled with words of comparison and judgment. It’s the continued emphasis on labeling that can set some children up for self-esteem issues, ideas of inappropriateness, guilt, chronic fear of failure, the inability to have their own healthy relationships, and plenty more.
Now, why is it so important to identify triggers like these from our own childhood? One, so we can make a difference for future generations and two, so we can understand how to put an end to this learned behavior within ourselves.
On a metaphysical level, I maintain the Universe isn’t making judgments or keeping score over what’s right and what’s wrong. These concepts are all drummed up in the human brain and perpetuated generation after generation. Events are not right or wrong, good or bad. At a deeper level, they just are. By stating that last sentence, I’m certainly not advocating that people lead a life of crime anymore than I’m advocating violent behavior towards others.
I believe once we are capable of reaching a level of understanding how the concepts of right and wrong have been blown so extremely out of proportion, we are already far better prepared to know how to treat others anyway. Someone who is in a position of deep introspection and contemplation has reached a place in their lives where they understand this. They realize their actions have a more advantageous effect when they are geared towards helping rather than harming. They ponder this information only because they are interested in pushing the envelope on the currently accepted ideas pertaining to life’s meanings.
Personally, I don’t lead a life of crime, not because it’s deemed wrong and I might go to jail, nor do I harm people, not because that’s deemed wrong and I might go to “hell.” I don’t do those things because they aren’t congruent with my inner knowledge and my inner desire to help others. I realize I have choices and options and I simply choose to try and lead a life of helping instead of harming. However, many people are in the dark about their options and feel that harming others is the only way to find their power. This doesn’t make it wrong. It only makes it different.
I know this probably sounds like a bizarre stance to take, but it’s all about exercising our ability to try and see beyond the confined ideas of existence, which have been forced down our throats. It’s this very forcing of labels, ideas and situations, onto us, that lead some towards a life of crime. Instead of going inward and finding their power amidst the stillness of their consciousness, they lose their awareness and rebel externally.
As we come to realize we are the source of all things expressing itself through this environment and we also understand we are the creators of our life experience, labels like right and wrong seem rather silly. How could universal source energy (the only thing that truly exists) ever commit something wrong against itself?
This is similar to the concept I addressed in my post “Life Lessons?”. If we are the god source energy and we create our reality every second of our lives (and I believe we do), then how could we ever be here to learn lessons? The only “lesson”, if you want to call it that, which we are here to learn or remember, is who we are and what we are truly capable of doing.
The problem in all of this is that most don’t realize they are god source energy. From that one falsehood stem a thousand more. Yet, they are all based on the original falsehood: that we are not of that which created this entire Universe. This is the very reason I don’t believe there is an ultimate right or wrong, a heaven and hell, or things like sin and karmic debt (not in the strictest sense of the word). These ideas were concocted by individuals that thought they were somehow separate from one another and separate from a deity that was purported to exist at a level far beyond their reach or comprehension.
If others choose to believe in sin, the devil, harsh karmic justice that follows us from one lifetime to the next, and what have you, I completely respect that. Due to our ability to create our own reality, they may very well find variations on those themes popping up in their life experiences, both here, and waiting for them on the other side. However, I choose to try and unfetter my beliefs, as much as possible, to allow my understanding to expand beyond limiting thoughts and concepts. I know there are worlds of existences, waiting out there, which extend outside our most limiting, ingrained thoughts.
Now, I will admit, I do still find myself labeling and judging some things as right or wrong, but the nice thing, these days, is that I catch myself midsentence and realize what I’m doing. As I make more of a conscious effort to relax the need to do so, the portion of my brain, which identifies with these labels, begins to feel the need to engage less and less.
In writing this post, I can see the glaring issues staring at me. If I’m saying that all things simply are and there’s no ultimate right or wrong, then how can I also say labeling and critiquing are undesirable activities? Isn’t that, in and of itself, a judgment call?
Therein resides the “problem” with philosophizing about our existence and the ideas that we are responsible for every aspect of our lives. However, we must be willing to take those steps outside all conventional “wisdom,” or else we are doomed to stay inside the box for eternity.
I realize, at the physical level of existence, it’s not easy to see things which seem unjust and horrible and not attach severe labels of criticism. We all do it, but the more we can direct our attention toward the idea that things simply are, as opposed to focusing on the idea bad things exist, the less we will find “atrocious” events in our midst. It’s ok to have a range of emotional responses to experiences and it’s also ok to view things as good and bad, but we must make a conscious effort to realize a large portion of our responses are programmed and conditioned.
The more open we are to this realization and the more we continue to work on deprogramming ourselves/working with our emotions, the better for us and our children. By continuing to fill children’s heads with labels and critiques, we stifle their open minded, awe-inspiring, creative abilities. And it’s never too late to regain all of those abilities within ourselves as well.
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