9 days ago I wrote an entry for the blog entitled "Note to Self." If you've yet to read it, here's the link as it is a precursor to this entry: http://bit.ly/2oxUM0v
That post was about how we as human beings seem to have an incessant need to label and define everything and everyone. Gay, straight, American, Mexican, black, white, right on down to "nice" or "bitch." Lots and lots of labels being "pinned" on folks all the time, we even do it to ourselves.
So what's the problem? I mean, who cares? Why does it matter if we all do it, even to ourselves?
Here's why. Every label bestowed on ourselves or others puts up a screen between us and the other person, the more labels the denser the screen becomes, eventually obstructing your view entirely.
We don't see or experience the complete person in front of us, we experience who we think they are based on the labels we gave them. In my mind, this puts up a screen between us and "them."
For example - You've just been seated at a restaurant and you are awaiting your server. In your mind, they are there to "wait on you", they are a waitress or waiter (label) and you have very specific expectations of what this person should be doing, they are the "means" to your end of having a meal. They probably wear a name tag or state their name when they come to the table but most of the time, we don't hear it, we don't look for it, we don't catch it, and for 99% of us, we surely don't use it. The label "trumps" the being.
That server has feelings just like you. Ups and downs, troubles and triumphs, heartaches and heartbreaks. They are way more than what we see because the humanity of that person is lost in the fact that they are simply there to serve you.
People in the medical profession think of you as a patient. Often (but not always, by any stretch) this keeps you from being treated as a "person." If you have ever experienced a loved one receiving less than stellar care, you understand this. You feel as if your loved one is just another body to get through on rounds. Don't even get me started on how poorly our elderly can be treated.
What can we do to begin to "thin" the screen or remove it all together?
Awareness is a start. Aware of when we "dehumanize" folks because of a label, such as the examples above. Aware of when we do this to friends and family. We believe they are something and we hold them in that light...FOREVER. (Take note parents of adult children!)
We don't give them grace when it comes to their changing over time. I believe we give the least amount of space to those we are closest to. Have you changed in the last 10 years? How about the last 5 or even less? I'm sure you have but it's rare that those we love the most even attempt to "keep up", it's easier just to keep the old label affixed. Keeping up to me means giving room for doubt when it comes to the labels and judgments they hold about you. That maybe it's time to remove them all together.
That screen filters EVERYTHING we experience in life. Do not doubt it's power to stifle relationships and be assured that you possess everything you need to rise above it.