Thursday, June 22, 2017

Eschewing Labels

Last night, on the cusp of completing nearly two weeks of training for my new counseling job, I read this quote from Bob Goff:

This quote really resonated with me, as my new company focuses on calling children and families by their names, rather than addressing them as "clients," or their psychiatric, learning disorder, or behavioral diagnoses. This is a learning curve for me, as my graduate education taught me that people preferred the anonymity of the title"client." But that's just the problem. The term "client" can be dehumanizing, universalist, deterministic. I work with people.

But you know what? Labels extend far beyond counseling. Think about the labels we hear in everyday life: Workaholic. 
Lazy. Perfectionist. Slob. Homosexual. Heterosexual. Stupid. Smart. Goody-two-shoe. Black sheep.  What if we got rid of these? What if we stopped referring to ourselves with singular words and started viewing ourselves as multiply complex PEOPLE? We are friends, siblings, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, counselors, teachers, mentors, engineers, doctors, nurses, doers, resters, crafters, creators, singers, dancers, painters, handymen (and women!) etc. Or what if we got rid of even these conglomerations of labels and tore down the barrier of labels period? How would we relate to people?

What if we let issues be issues and people be people? What if we stopped trying to find words to describe life and just lived? Could we be more present? Could we be more productive? Could those who claim to be Christians love more like Christ loved? Could we begin to acknowledge the complexities of each unique creation of God? I don't think it's possible to completely do away with labels, but perhaps reducing their use can lead to fuller, richer lives and lifestyles.

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