Labeling, our favorite prison

We are in the era of labels. Labeling is a fashionable sport. The “trend”. Hashtags up and down, hashtags with which we enclose and limit ourselves. Hashtags to make dark and bitter worlds. Hashtags to laugh and to cry.


Nahual Spirit. Private collection of Andrés Herrera González.

Labels (These yellow paper prejudices) imprison us as much as they justify us.

I always liked a poem by the magnificent Tatiana Lobo that said “I like to be called a slut, because then I can make love with whomever I want”.

When I look at the phrase closely, however, what I see is the search for an excuse to do what I do anyway.

I endure the pain of rejection that comes with the slut label and with that pain I pay for my freedom.

Are you serious?

Yes, I’m serious.

The label justifies me, guides me, protects me.

We have all lived in closets made of labels. They put labels on us when we were children, we continue to believe them voluntarily and we defend them as we defend life: “I’m messy” “I’m fickle” “I’m crazy”.

(A valid parenthesis: You don’t need the label to define yourself. You are what you are, and in this interconnected world, you are doing the best you can.).

Labels, besides being defensive barracks, are voluntary prisons. They persecute us, blame us, punish us. They torture us. They can kill us.

And based on these labels that define us and with which we define the rest of the world, we judge the one thing that is impossible to judge: what we are. The other one is me.

And as our ego insists on existing, we transform the other and ourselves into labels. Based on them, we move away, or we approach. Based on them we attack, based on them we kill. We become islands surrounded by seas of “post-it notes”.

We close doors and, we remain prisoners in the impossible solitude of total defense.

#weareallidiots #evil #french #toxicpeople #slut #fag #gringo #dyke #stubborn #stupidpeople #Iambest #iamaslut #sonofabitch

Obviously, in a utopia we haven’t reached yet, labels are going to fall. All of them.

I mean, obviously: they’re falling in front of our eyes! We put them on and they fall off old and worn out because they are losing their rubber.

But we have to understand that if we want, all of us, to free ourselves from labels, from prejudices and all that stuff… Yes. I have to be the first one to stop labeling everything.


And yes, necessarily to stop labeling, you have to love yourself a lot, because the only thing you attack is what you hate in you.

If you let go of the label on the other’s forehead, yours disappears.

And Peace enters.

Change of perception changes the way reality is perceived.

And there was another guy -a little-known guy- who used to say “if you see the grass in the other guy’s eye, you don’t see the beam in your own eye

He was right! Do you want to know yourself?

Look at the labels you put on others. That is how you define yourself.

My universe is a huge mirror of what I think I am.

And your universe is a huge mirror of what you think you are.

If we both let go of the condemnations, we both free ourselves. It is as simple as that.

Not because a god imposes it on us. Not because Jesus, Buddha, or Pacha Inti recommend it to us… Dude! The prison that will not allow us to be happy, are our judgments, condemnations, and punishments.

“Hell is other people,” said Sartre — (in a context that I do not know. It is important to clear that out) — No! Hell are the labels that we stick on others — which come from the ones we already put on ourselves-.

Now, yes, all well and good. And what am I supposed to do?

An example: If my aunt is toxic (and toxic is a judgment and a label), and I walk away because of that, do I have to approach her again?

You don’t have to do anything. Nothing at all. Just open yourself to the possibility that the next time you see her, she is not “toxic”. Take a look at her. That’s all. And if what you see suffocates you, close up like a clam.

(If you have a therapist, talk about it in the next session. After a while and interesting things will come out)


Life — Leticia Catalayud Private Collection

And as a sample, I tell a story (and send a message to the web, by the way).

About the wolf:

I have a friend, whom I love deeply.

One of those people with whom you open a conversation that only seems to extend over the years. We laughed a lot together, traveled together, cried together, and generally made each other happy.

A relationship without sex, but populated with love. And yet yes, I labeled him “toxic” many years ago as a result of repeated aggressions in uncontrollable fits of rage.

He is like an angry wolf at times, and he can bite hard.

Every time I think about contacting him again, the label gets through me and defends me. “And I get over it.”

I haven’t heard from him for many years. I don’t know if he has changed in his marrow, all I can do is wish him well and assure him if he reads me, that I love him very much.

Drop the label? For a second maybe. Just to peek to see if the “aggressor” is still there.

It’s my prerogative to do so or not.

(Is this a message? Yes, and no. If it is, it’s to a specific person. But if you are not that specific person, it is a story, which contains yes, a message).


How do we stop labeling?

First of all, treat yourself with affection and patience.

Your well-being and peace improve the square meter in which you live and from where you illuminate the sphere of your universe.

If you can’t handle the pain caused by what you see, that’s fine. Walk away. Without guilt (which is useless).

Pay attention to your thoughts. What makes you close up, become evasive, or distant?

Let go of other people’s labels, those of advertising, those of gossip.

Let go of the labels you don’t even know you have on. Check what you think of this one and that one. Question all labels. Question what you think you know about others.

Stop assuming and stop interpreting. Give yourself a chance for a day.

Give it a try. Look at your labels for just one day. And see how you feel.

Accept the fact that you are wrong… it is the most liberating thought. 🙂

Let go for a day.

Let yourself fall.

There is no floor.

This article was published in Medium: 

Olga Saenz-carbonell. \”Labeling, our favorite prison.\” Medium. 18 Mar. 2021. Web. 18 Mar. 2021. <https://olgasaenzcarbonell.medium.com/labeling-our-favorite-prison-7d57b6a7134b>