No More Labels

Had a great insight the other day, and thought I will share it with you.

Do you realize that we have the tendency to label people?

And with the label, it comes with many expectations. Take for example, the classic love-hate relationship between the mother and daughter-in-law. I have heard this tale time and again, friends having problems with their mums-in-law, or colleagues being caught in between their wives and mums.

So, what is happening here?

The daughter-in-law who has grown up with her own mother for the last 20 or 30 years has a pretty clear idea of how a ‘mum’ should be, should act, should behave. And how did she get those ideas from? From her own mum of course. And hence, she goes into her husband’s household with fixated ideas of how a ‘mum’ should be and how a household should be run. And guess what? Her mum-in-law behaves in a totally different way from her own mum and the household is run in a totally different manner. And there the comparisons begin.

“How come your mum is like that?”

“How can she say that? What does she mean by that?”

“Why can’t she just be more direct? There are always hidden thorns in her every word.”

“That would have never happened in my home! She does not know how to handle it well.”

And the complaints continue…

The mother-in-law is obviously not completely blameless. She sees her new daughter-in-law as the wife of her son. Note the label ‘wife’. And who does she measure up the ‘wife’ to? Probably she herself or her own mother, who has played the wife role to her father! Hence she too has a stipulated list of qualities that a ‘wife’ should possess. And when she sees that her daughter-in-law steps out of line…

“How come your wife always comes home so late?”

“Work, work, work! All these career women, no need to look after the husband-la!”

“Don’t know how to cook, never clean up the house, how can I trust her to look after my grandchildren?”

You get the gist…

If only we take each and every person as an individual, and not slap a label on them and expect them to behave in a certain manner.

For example, if only every daughter-in-law sees her mother-in-law as an individual and not a mother nor a wife.

This obviously applies to the situation of dating and/or choosing a life partner as well. We have always been pre-conditioned to how a ‘boyfriend’, ‘girlfriend’, ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ should or shouldn’t be. Hence we bring this set of expectations with us when it comes to dating, whether consciously or subconsciously.

I am learning to know the person for who he or she is. To appreciate the person’s strengths and weaknesses. There’s no point comparing really… because each and every one of us is a unique individual.

By getting rid of the labels, we are giving ourselves a chance to know the other person for real, with no expectations and hence no prejudice.

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