Labels, Definitions and Descriptions


Beware and be careful of the labels you use, and the definitions and descriptions you have. You live according to those. This is either working for you or against you. You choose.

Look around. You respond according to labels. You look up to the CEO and listen to the CFO. You seek learning from a person called a teacher. You listen to a preaching from the person named a preacher. If you are a teacher, for example, but enrolled in a course as a student – when you enter that classroom of that course you are enrolled in, you act as a student; but if you go back to the classroom where you teach, you act like a teacher. You get the point, right?

Unfortunately, this works on the negative side, too. If you keep calling someone a cheater or stupid or slow – be careful – unless he or she is able to counter those labels, that person will become the labels you give him or her. Because of this, I propose that we be very careful with the labels we use.

A good application of this would be how you label yourself. For example, since I cannot say that ‘I am rich’ because I haven’t achieved my financial goals yet (a long journey to go) but I don’t want to say, “I am poor” (as this would be at my disadvantage) – I can choose to say, “I am rich with the love of God.” Or I can say, “I am blessed.” So that when I act according to that label, it would be at my advantage. And this would be living to my truth. You want to live your truth, too, right? Then choose good, appropriate and right labels.

Definitions also matter. I have a friend who thinks and call himself as an introvert. But he thinks there’s something wrong with being an introvert. There’s none!

I am also an introvert. I can relate with him. The problem is that we confuse introversion with shyness and timidity. I like the freeing definition of introversion by Susan Cain, a self-proclaimed introvert who wrote a well-researched book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. What I learned from her is that introversion is more of how we process our thoughts inwardly (vs outwardly) and how we gain/regain energy in quiet solitary moments (vs a crowded party room for instance).

Introversion is totally different from being shy and timid. It does not necessarily follow that if you are an introvert, you are shy. Note that there are extroverts who are shy (and there are also who are not). Thus, you can still be an introvert but not shy.

Yes, process your thoughts inwardly, think things through, get energized and refreshed in solitary moments or retreats, but when you need to go out there, go – associate and speak up! You can have the ability to do it if you choose to. You can be confident and outspoken when the situation demands. Note that confidence can be gained and communication skills can be learned. They do not come from your personality.

It also goes with descriptions. When you describe yourself, choose your adjectives. It is like our illustration on labels. The problem with bad, negative or limiting descriptions and labels is that they stop you from breaking out of whatever challenge you are facing.

Instead of saying, “I’m shy” how about saying, “I need to gain confidence.” This way, it puts the label into an action word that gets you moving. It goes with your looks, too. Oh, this is even a source of shyness – because when you try to compare yourself with the most handsome men in that magazine, you might not look like one of them. And so you tend to describe yourself, “I am not handsome” using the standards out there that is not applicable to your unique self.

This is not good for you. I know because these bad, negative labels and descriptions I am sharing as examples were used by me in the past. But through time, I learned to change my descriptions. For instance, even if I don’t usually describe myself as handsome, I can now say, “I’m cool and I’m charming! (And sometimes, crazy!)”

What are your labels, definitions and descriptions? Are they your truth? Are they working for you? Are they serving yourself and the people around you? If yes, keep it up! If not, maybe it’s time to change your labels, definitions and descriptions.

Do it and receive the results you are meant to be blessed with!

(Chris Dao-anis aims to empower his fellow young minds with practical instruction and inspiration in the fields of communication and personal leadership. He authored three books to date: The Gift of the Ordinary, 7 Keys to Achieve Your Aspirations, and the soon-to-be-launched Living Large in the Little Things. For talks, seminars and speech coaching, email him at You can order his latest book at a specially discounted price at You are also invited to the FREE Living Large Seminar & Book Launch on Sep 10. Register today at