TOW#616 — Label

The other day, I was sitting at the back of the bus and couldn’t help but overhear various ‘life tips’ from two chatty middle-aged women, who woke me up even before my first coffee of the day. I say I couldn’t help it, as those who use public transport will understand, because the proximity of seats, like it or not, often means you’re in other people’s space.

Now, what intrigued me, and even got me into a discussion with these women, was when they started talking about an overweight girl. “Tut, tut, just a young girl, and look at her…”, “she should take a look in the mirror sometimes, my goodness”, “who could love her like this”… yes, yes! They’re so concerned about the girl, even to the point of asking who will love her!

- “Do you know her?”, I asked them. Surprised, even a little offended that I was interrupting them, they answered me rudely. “Do you know her personally”, I repeated. “Maybe you know if there’s a reason for her appearance?”

There’s no need to recount more of this story. My point is, how often do we ‘stick’ labels on people without knowing their life story?

Let’s take a look at ourselves before labelling someone else:

- Are you flawless? (be honest with yourself)

- Think about how it would feel to be criticised for your actions/ appearance, by people who don’t even know you?

- Furthermore, are you an expert in criticising and labelling others?

- What is your aim? Is your criticism intended to help?

It’s human nature to want to help someone. But this trait can get so twisted and go in the wrong direction, and then it ceases to be a help. Therefore:

- Never label someone without knowing them personally. And never in their absence. Otherwise you’re just being mean and uncultured;

- When you decide to criticise someone, at least think of a way to help them with the criticism so they can see the error of their ways;

- Expect resistance to the criticism, since one of the most difficult things is to admit one’s own mistakes;

- Try not to offend. Everyone has their own struggle that you don’t know about;

- Malicious, sardonic words and insults have never helped anyone;

- Put yourself in their place — I’m always for this rule — and see how you might more easily learn from criticism instead of being offended.

- By criticising you’re actually evaluating someone. Don’t give yourself that right unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Criticism is actually the practice of judging someone’s characteristics or shortcomings. And we simply don’t always have the right to use it, because it can lead to fatal consequences.

Be compassionate and humane instead of judgmental, you might even end up helping someone. And this is harder than being an empty critic, so I’m actually challenging you to be compassionate and kind!

None of us are perfect and that’s perfectly fine.

So, I suppose all that’s left now is for someone flawless to throw the first stone… 😊

Elena Martinovska

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