By Cathy Eck
Labels Are Superglue for the Mind
Recently, I had a very revealing dream. An old friend of mine, who has two adult real-life daughters, had conjoined twin toddlers. The twins were joined in their legs as if they had one big connecting leg between them like conjoined mermaids.
My friend asked me to help prepare them mentally for separation. She told me that one was a happy twin; the other was a sad twin. I could see their labels on their faces very clearly. Then she left me alone with them. I decided to forget her labels and just see each of them as who they truly were. Each twin showed me its True Self; and both were joyous. Then I experienced a strange sort of black out. Suddenly, the two twins were sitting on two chairs, separated, and dangling their little legs.
I pointed out to the twins that they were now separated. They smiled and said, “It won’t last when mom finds out. She’ll connect us again.” It made sense. She had defined them as happy and sad twins — two halves of a whole. They feared that her labels would unite them back into one screwed-up being.
I went to talk to the mother. I told her that I had good news; the twins were separated. I told her that she must drop her labels of happy and sad, or they’d go back together. But she refused to do so. She said, she had plans for surgery already.
The dream ended. I woke up feeling like a failure. I’d come so close to separating the twins, but I perceived the mother’s labels to have such power that I failed. I focused my attention on the feeling of failure; it soon turned to waves of fear. One after another incidents of being stuck in labels flooded into my memory for my discrimination and release.
We Love Our Labels
Labels come in many ways. We acquire labels based on how we look or physical quirks or defects. We get labeled based on what we do in our career. There are also labels that we give ourselves as if, “I’ll label myself before you label me.” There are labels that come from kidding around. Some labels are pet names representing romance and union. But no matter what the source, labels always limit us.
My dream was pointing to a difficult label to shed unless you see through the illusion. These are labels that have an opposite connected with another person. One of the labels in the pair is good or right; the other is bad or wrong. We see this dual labeling with children, but also with partners, bosses, and friends.
When our label is half of a whole, letting go requires eliminating both halves. We identify personally with half of the whole, and we see the other half in another person. But both halves are stored in our own mind.
In my house, my parents had a skinny child and a chubby child. My parents were sure that these labels were correct and unchangeable. My skinny sister was delighted with her label; I wanted to be skinny too. But it felt as if I needed to get my sister to gain weight to get what I wanted. I was stuck in Label-Land on a perpetual merry-go-round.
Labels are stored in our mind the same way they were projected upon us. Now in truth, my sister didn’t need to gain weight for me to lose it. But my mind held it that way so that I could not lose weight. I swear she looked skinnier every time I saw her, and I looked chubbier. I was caught in label prison without any chance of parole. I didn’t realize that I had the key to my jail cell.
The Lesson of Labels
My dream reminded me of dualistic pairs of labels in my past that felt out of my range of control. I felt like I needed other people to drop their labels of me in order to change my reality. I didn’t think I had the power of change within myself.
But I did. In the dream, I just had to realize that neither happy nor sad are true; what is true is joy, which I saw in each twin individually creating change. I also had to remember that my truth was more powerful than the mother’s false labels so that she couldn’t reverse the twin’s healing. By letting go of both sides of the labels in our own minds, we change our reality. In my experience, when we truly let go, the people who gave us the label forget about it. You probably recognize this as the triangle process.
We weren’t born with labels, we acquire them. Our job, sexual orientation, political view, religion, sports, culture, defects, and schools all become labels that define us. That being said, we can use labels as tools so long as we remember that we are not our labels; and we can drop any labels that don’t work for us at any time.
When I spoke on cruise ships, I’d walk around and meet labels in bodies, and they were boring as hell even if they were someone famous or important. But sometimes I’d meet a real person and we’d connect and talk and talk. Days would pass and our conversation would continue along — picking up wherever we left off the day before. Eventually, I’d realize that I didn’t even know the person’s name or what they did. I just knew who they were, and I loved them. You see, when labels disappear, what remains is just love.
Many labels spring from our personality, which is often mistaken for our True Self.