I found this article about The Angry Spouse on the web. Don’t know how I found it… just kind of popped up like a Karma sort of thing. It made me think about labels. Life has a way of throwing me these little nuggets of wisdom when I need them. What’s the saying?
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
I filled out the Angry Marriage check sheet. Even though the instructions say to fill it out for you and your spouse I did it just from my vantage point. First off, I don’t know Husband #2’s true frame of mind. Second of all, and most importantly, it is not my job to fix him.
Repeat after me: It is not my job to fix him.
Or anyone else for that matter. See, I’ve taken the attitude that there is only one person I can fix, and that person is me. To quote Michael Jackson, “I’m looking at the man in the mirror”. My introspection starts and stops with me. I’m not judging, labeling, or otherwise trying to categorize anyone else. To do so pigeon-holes them and limits my thinking about them.
Let me step through this for a minute…
If I think of someone as a soccer mom (pretty common label in today’s world), I’m going to limit them to that role in my mind:
- Drives minivan
- Spends lots of time in bleachers
- Has no life outside of her kids
- Usually running from one errand to the other
- Cell phone attached to hand for calling or texting when she should be watching the game
- Uses the drive-thru to feed kids
Right or wrong, this is my perception when I think soccer mom. This is how I’ve labeled a woman, who I don’t even know, who probably has more going on than what I’ve given her credit for, such as:
- Volunteers for charity
- Enjoys bird watching
- Very generous
- Is interested in astronomy
- Has a strong work ethic
- Dreams of acting
- Loves her children
- Enrolled in kayak lessons
- Builds websites
What’s funny is that this second list is part of what I am today. Yet those things are not part of my label of twice “Divorced Mom”. Just as I have pigeon-holed others by assigning labels to them, others have pigeon-holed me by assigning labels to me.
There is so much more depth to people when we challenge ourselves to throw out the label and open ourselves up to discovering more about the individuals around us. Simple things, like asking questions, make us better conversationalists with the added benefit of smashing preconceived notions about who someone is on the inside.
My goal is to find out more. To ask questions. To never label a person. To recognize that everyone is unique even if they do drive mini-vans filled with soccer balls.