Go Beyond Labels
All our lives, we are surrounded by labels. Some of these labels are externally imposed on us by circumstance — such as our places of origin, the religions we practice, and even our names. External labels also arise from society’s perception of us — e.g. Steve is an intelligent person, Jane is a good singer, Robert is an angry person. However many labels are self-imposed and are based on our own perceptions of ourselves. For example, we may call ourselves introverts or extroverts, fun-loving or serious, thinkers or doers. These labels arise out of our own likes and dislikes, and they frequently fuel the personality that we project to the outside world. Our labels can also arise from our reactions to the experiences we face. For example, after a particularly disastrous attempt at public speaking, we may label ourselves as poor speakers. When the next opportunity comes to speak in public, we may hesitate to embrace it or perhaps even hide from it entirely. Over time, not only do we shy away from all such opportunities (and perhaps other similar ones), but we also stop trying to break out of our self-imposed mould. When we stop trying, we stop progressing.
What we need to remember is that our labels do not define us, nor should they limit us. Our true identification is that we are souls. As souls we are a tiny part of the infinite God, who is seated within each of us as the soul of the soul. God Himself gives us the ability to be anything we can be. Shree Krishna states as much in Chapter 7, verse 8, of the Bhagavad Gita.
“I am the taste in water, O son of Kunti, and the radiance of the sun and the moon. I am the sacred syllable Om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether, and the ability in humans.”
When we identify with anything other than the soul, we limit ourselves. We all have access to the infinite power of God, seated within our souls. Connecting with that source of infinite love, compassion, and knowledge enables us to remove the shackles of our personality-driven labels. We discover that these labels were a comfort zone that needed to be broken for us to advance ourselves.
Every situation in life requires a different approach. We can adjust our responses to these situations by deriving our power from God instead of hiding behind our self-imposed limitations. So even if we think we are poor public speakers today, we can still do our best by practicing to speak externally, while internally we trust in God to unlock our true potential. As long as we rely solely on ourselves, we will continue to be limited by labels. The moment we see ourselves as a part of God, sustained and protected by Him, we step into the realm of the unlimited.
As Swami Vivekananda said, “All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark.”