William James, considered the father of American Psychology, once said, "That which I perceive is my reality." For each of us, it is our interpretation that matters more than the collective interpretation. In other words, when you are in a situation where you feel harassed, then in your mind... your reality, you are in that situation. Growing up with two brothers, it has been interesting to see the three different ways that we label things in our lives. Each of us has created our own unique set of labels/meaning for what money means, what family means, what work means, etc.
When you think about the labels that you have given to the events and conditions that you have experienced in life, you begin to see that the meaning that is "real" is the meaning that you have accepted. The tricky part comes when we have given a meaning to something that is destructive or negative. When we begin to look at life through a "cracked lens" instead of with clarity, we will begin to pick out the bad stuff and embrace that as our truth. The more this is done, the more intense the negative becomes in our world. People will often begin to embrace more intensely bad or negative meaning and lose sight of any of the good things that are happening around them.
Dr. Richard Bandler explained this by saying that our conscious minds will delete, distort, and generalize information to make it fit with our belief systems. Our belief systems are simply the collective set of labels that we have embraced about life. In order to begin deleting the bad or distorting the negative, one must first change the underlying label or meaning that they have given to something. In business, this often means that supervisors must stop believing things like, "All employees are lazy and stupid." In schools, teachers must look at every student and believe, "Every child has potential and deserves my best effort as a teacher." When supervisors or teachers look for the bad in a kid instead of the good, they will often manifest that result in the object of their label.
Our world has continued to change so rapidly that it can be difficult to keep up with meaning. When I was a kid, if a person was older, they were referred to as sir or ma'am. When I was a kid, the teacher or supervisor was right and I was wrong. Interestingly, I was reconditioned by those who wanted to protect young people from teachers being bullies to stand up for myself and not accept negative behaviors. It was in this lesson that I learned that I can choose what label I give to any group of people and even to myself.
Watch what labels we create in the minds of our kids because they are what define reality for them later in life. Watch what labels we accept in our dealings with staff, supervisors, leaders, etc, because they are what shape our responses in this world. It is the meaning that we give things, not the things themselves that stick with us. Because of that, make every effort to give your circumstances the right, and empowering, meaning. When others strive to bring you down, strive to make this world better. Stand up for yourself with respect and confidence! Choose good labels.
To Your Success,
Jody N Holland
Jody is a writer, motivational speaker, consultant, and entrepreneur. He has been the keynote speaker at over 250 events around the world. Jody speaks more than 150 times per year at different programs, and he has given more than 10,000 speeches during his career.