Names are really important to us, aren't they? We put time, effort and care into what we name our children, our pets and for some even their cars or boats. In my immediate family, our dogs even have middle names!
|Zoe, Mr. Knightley and Giselle|
As I just recently noticed how Giselle responds to 'Good Girl' as if it were a name rather than a praise we give her, I thought about how as individuals, we respond to the names that we have been given by others or ourselves whether positive, negative or neutral. They may sometimes be adjectives, but we can adopt them as being names that reflect who we are even when they really don't: Intelligent; Victim; Survivor; Worthless; Beautiful; Failure; Kind; Nothing; Everything; Stupid; Got-it-Together; Damaged;
I had an experience recently where someone very cruelly told me something horrid about myself that I knew was not true, but I could not shake it. Even though loved ones reassured me it was not true, it really messed with me. It was as though this person had take a super-adhesive sticker with this name written on it and slapped in on my inner being. It affected the way I saw myself, how I thought about myself, and I started thinking as though this name/label must be true. I even started to feel shame because I was carrying this name/label around. It really rocked my boat and this negative name/label led to other negative names I believed about myself.
We all grow up with names we took on or were branded with and they probably shaped who we are even though they may or may not be who we are. Some people shake names/labels easier than others. Admittedly, I have to work to shake any name/label I have been given by others or myself. My husband, George, lets names/labels easily slide off his back. Over the years he has taught me how not to care what people think about me. And what a freeing thing it is. I am jealous it comes so naturally to him because it is something I have to work on daily. I have redefine myself for who I really am in my core, not the labels I got pinned stuck with.
Isn't it rotten when we grow up hearing something about ourselves that is not true, but we begin to believe it is? Maybe parents or grandparents or siblings treated us in a way that made us believe a name/label about ourselves. Maybe abuse made one's mind adopt a name. Maybe someone in school told us we were nothing. Maybe a colleague/boss crushed our work. Maybe a friend betrayed us. Maybe fill in the blank has expectations we cannot meet. Maybe as a chronically ill person, people who are supposed to love and support us have given us labels that are not who we are.
If names were piled on stickers, I'd love to use that Goo Gone product on the pile. In fighting back against this most recent name that I let define me for a while, I sought to find what my name really is in the center of my being. And I found that name to be 'Beloved.'
No matter what has been stuck onto us, who we are, what we have done, mistakes we have made, what someone called us, what someone did to us, we have a core name that means "a much loved person." Our task is to work on peeling off all those other names that bind us so that we can experience freedom.