I've been thinking a lot about these words uttered by Prince EA (in the video below), and how labels, beliefs, and definitions affect our identity, thoughts, actions, and happiness.
The brain loves order and efficiency. It divides, categorizes, and compartmentalizes to perform faster, freeing up bandwidth for more and more complex actions and functions. But when we put a label on something or stop questioning it, we limit the possibilities that exist within it.
If I hold up a water bottle and define it only by the ability to drink water from it, I have stripped away an endless number of other possibilities it could be. The beauty of children is their inquisitive, non-defining nature. They don't yet know what it's "supposed" to be. They might see a microphone to sing into... a football to be tossed... a prism to filter light through... a noise maker... or ALL of these things.
We live in an inclusive universe. One thing cannot be separated from the whole and exist in a vacuum. We exist in relation to the environment around us. We are shaped by the environment and the environment is shaped by us. Separation is a construct of the mind.
Labels are literally just a construct of the mind, they don't actually exist on their own. As Prince EA says, "Labels are just labels." Labels aren't inherently bad. But they become dangerous when we don't see them simply as a function of brain efficiency and instead identify a thing or a person AS the label we've unconsciously stamped on them.
This does not apply solely to people and how we label them by the color of their skin. It applies to EVERYTHING we label, trying to define it and box it in.
I think about this often as the work I do for myself is to hold up each label, definition, and belief I have, and ask, "How did I come to this conclusion?" "Is this something I came up with in my own, or was it fed to me by society?" "How does it serve me?" "How does it feel in my body? Does it feel light and true or does it feel heavy and false?" "How else can I define it?" "Does a new definition serve me better?" etc...
Some of these beliefs hold up, and some of them do not and transform into something new. And when that happens my world becomes bigger. I SEE more possibilities, not because more were created where they didn't exist, but simply because I could not before see what was already there. Possibility was REVEALED to me, simply unearthed. I become more childlike in seeing what is possible. The boundary between me and the world around me becomes thinner. My sense of self dissolves a bit and I can feel how I'm connected to the universe in song.
This work never ends. Once you've worked through one definition, you find another one right behind it. But it is important work in a life of meaning and joy. The effects of it are so beautiful.
By changing the way I see, the world is changed.
The world becomes wondrous, expanding before my eyes in infinite possibilities. I become more creative, more inclusive, more joyful, more free.
I'm encouraging you all to explore your relationships with your own labels...
What labels, definitions, and beliefs can you hold up for examination? Do these labels serve you? How are they holding you back from a life of more joy, love, passion, abundance, etc...What will you find when you dig deeper? How can you redefine the beliefs you have? How will your life change when you do so?
Maybe start small with an object you see like the water bottle example above and see how many new ways you can look at it. There is a world of possibilities that exist that we don't currently see. All of the great thinkers of our history knew this, it's how the light bulb was invented, how Einstein's theory of relativity was inspired, how MLK Jr saw a world of equality. To operate in a world of infinite possibilities, we need to tap into seeing the infinite possibilities around us.