The Real Problem Behind Labels

There’s this mainstream idea that “labels are bad”, and “you shouldn’t label people”. I think it’s absolutely true, but that we do a terrible job of explaining what that phrase actually means. Here’s my attempt at offering my point of view on the subject. 

Go back to when you were a kid. Now, you just snuck candies in your room without your parents noticing (let’s say they told you not to do it). Your parents ask you where all the candies went. You say you don’t know. They ask if you ate it. You say no. They ask if you took it. No again. Then they find the candies in your room.

At this point, your parents could easily use the dreaded term: “liar”, and tell you to not be a liar. Here’s the huge problem with that: we’re all liars. From an innocent “Yes, that looks good so on you”, to telling yourself “I swear I’ll start working after that one episode”, to saying you didn’t do your homework because you “didn’t have time”, yet finished half a season of Dexter during the weekend, it’s a part of our daily lives. And using the term “liar” makes it seem like there are only 2 alternatives: being an evil liar, or only always saying the truth, the “good” option. Which is false. You don’t tell your friend who just lost their dog that “it’s okay, dogs live less than humans anyway, it was about time he died”. It’s not “nice”, and wouldn’t be considered “good”, yet, it’s the truth.

We lie all the time, big or small, to ourselves or others, but we aren’t “liars”. Those lies are not always “bad”. Saying “I’m sorry” when learning about someone in your class who’s grandfather just died is not mean at all, yet you may not care 100% of the time, because people die everyday, and her grandpa was 93. It’s still a nice thing to say, and not big “E” liE, but one that’s meant to reassure someone you probably feel empathy towards. 

An additional reason why calling someone a liar, cheater, bad student and more is a terrible idea is the way we associate with labels. If you call someone a liar, that sticks with them. Although their lie might have been a one time thing, let them hear it a couple of time and the term will become a small but noticeable part of their person. The “bad student” example explains this really well. I’ve seen a countless number of my friends putting themselves down simply because they haven’t been getting straight A’s students their whole life, and their parents, sometimes teacher (but a big part is themselves) are there to remind them of that. Those teenagers might then think they are bad students, which is probably absolutely false. Like the term “liar”, the word “student” means more than just what we associate it with. A student learns, likes to learn, and strives for knowledge instead of just sit in a class and earn grades to go to college, get a job and be able to stop learning. Maybe that teenager isn’t seeing their A in Art, and the fact that it’s the only class they really like and feel excited about. Why? “Because art won’t get them to college”. Screw that, welcome to the internet. And that’s just one example, maybe you like to play an instrument, math, video editing, building chairs, are really good with people, I don’t know! The thing is, telling yourself you’re a “bad student” is probably untrue, and is certainly not going to help. Maybe the problem is just that you haven’t found what “thing” you want to be a student in. Or you have, but it’s video games, and you don’t think that there’s anything to learn, create, or get out of the entire subject. Which is absolutely false.

So if your sibling, daughter, son, or friend ends up doing something you don’t like but want them to stop that behavior, don’t call them a liar. Instead, ask them to “be honest with me next time”, don’t tell them to “stop being a liar”, or “don’t be a liar”. Because once you tell people what you like them doing -being honest- and make sure they don’t feel attacked when you tell them, is the moment they will actually hear you out.

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A Letter From My Future Self – Dear Mentor

Leo Gura is the owner of the website and Youtube channel Actualized.org. He puts out videos every week, on a very consistent schedules, videos that often last for 45 minutes to an hour (or more) without making any cuts. This is my letter to him from my future self in December 2018.

Hello Leo,

My name is Robin Playe, a frenchman living in North Carolina. You must get thousands of these everyday, so I’ll keep it concise.

I am currently a senior in high school, turning 19 in a couple of weeks. I first stumbled upon your videos on Youtube about 4 years ago, during one of the lowest points in my life. I was depressed, but fed up with that state of mind, and actively looking for ways to come out of it. This is when I came across a video of yours called Why Am I Depressed? – The Shocking Truth Behind Your Depression.

Watching this changed everything. I felt as if many things I knew to be true but scared to execute were suddenly given permission to be believed, and additional knowledge was coming, pouring in. I have always been fascinated by psychology, which I will study in college, the main reason why your videos were so fascinating to me. Self-awareness has since been on top of my priority list and something I constantly try to improve on. Out of the many, many hours of your content I ended up listening to or watching, 13 of your videos I went through slowly and took long, detailed notes of (62 handwritten notebook pages).

As I kept watching, I tried to also take action, and not just engage in “mental masturbation”, as you would describe it; only taking in content but not actually doing anything with it. I started doing meditation, explore different subjects, and tried to hone in on what I thought to be my passions.

But here’s the thing. My 20 minutes meditation sessions got harder and harder to keep up with, and after about 2 solid weeks, ended. I tried picking it back up multiple times, but failed even more.

I started to see your determination towards enlightenment, but felt as if it was too much for me at the moment. The turning point of my depression had been when I moved back again from France to the U.S. I had, then, stopped being a people pleasure, explored my masculinity, as well as worked on my my emotional awareness, following some of your (best) content like How To Be Attractive – The Ultimate Attraction Strategy and How To Master & Control Your Emotions. Much of the information shared  seems like really basic information when I listen to it now, but wasn’t on my first time listening to them. Nevertheless, I felt that spiritual enlightenment was just too big of a commitment, especially including the fact that I was (and still am) in high school and absolutely not financially independent, among other factors.

It became obvious to me then. Self awareness was what I needed to keep pursuing, along with finding my life purpose, to build the necessary foundation for living my extraordinary life. Since then, I’ve decided to take the habit of doing at least 5 minutes of meditation per day; a small amount, but the habit itself is more important to me. I meditate more on days when I want to, and force myself to do that amount during tougher days (or more, sometimes). I have also, since then, decided to take the habits of taking at least 1 cold shower a day, often in the morning, in order to set the mood and foundation for my life: being able to throw myself into highly uncomfortable situations in order to grow as a human being and grow out of my comfort zone.

This next one is something that’s hard to declare in a publicly permanent manner, but one that’s been very important to me, and not talked about, as far I know, in any of your videos so far. I have decided to join the group NoFap, am now completely rebooted, and still on a very good no-PMO streak. I believe that PMO was having a very negative effect on my own psyche, and quitting it is one of the best decisions I could have taken in my entire life.

On top of all this, I have now written and published an ebook, something I’ve been meaning to do since I was a little kid, writing the first chapter of a novel in my blue notebook. I remember it like it was yesterday.

But all of that, although having had to be done by me kicking myself in the ass, is in big portion thanks to you. I don’t know where I would be at this point in my life if I hadn’t stumbled upon your content. Sure, what I’ve achieved so far could be considered small, but is, most importantly, the foundation for a soon-to-be freshman in college that wants to build an extraordinary life for himself.

Thank you for what you do and keep living your extraordinary life,

Robin Playe

The Kid Who Dug Up Dinosaur Bones

Humans of New York recently posted the picture of a little kid on their website with the following caption:

“I want to be an archeologist. That’s a person who explores the desert and looks for dinosaur eggs and Egyptians. I’ve been thinking a lot about it. I’m already watching Jurassic Park and collecting dinosaur stickers. And once I found a piece of coral in the shape of a heart.”(Bogotá, Colombia)

And that got me thinking.

I was that kid, once. Okay, I’m still only 17, but bear with me.

I wanted to be an archeologist. I owned these small solid sand blocks that you’d have to dig through with tools to find dinosaur bones inside of.

I was crazy about them. I’d sit for hours, just concentrated on that one task, digging those blocks, until the fake rarity would point out its nose at the extremities of my tools.

Why did I want to be an archaeologist? The thrill of the search. The patience required that would eventually lead me to something I knew I would discover. The joy of the process.

I still am that way, but just haven’t found what truly puts me in that state. The state of everything else around you getting faded, all that matters being the task at hand. The innocent joy – happiness – of simply enjoying the process, even more so than the end reward in itself. I’ve only stopped wanting to dig up dinosaur bones because of the reality of the actual job of being an archeologist. But in a way, I haven’t stopped dreaming. I still crave to dig through blocks of solid sand, sitting in a chair, glasses up my nose, tools in hands, time sitting still, with only one objective in head. I still want to be an archeologist.

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