The unfortunate truth about pigeonholing

One of my greatest bugbears is when people are labelled or put into pigeonholes. ‘Suzy has two children and lives in a suburb of the city. Suzy is normal.’ ‘David works as a lawyer. David is serious.’ I have definitely been guilty of putting people into pigeonholes in the past and it’s something I’m working hard to rectify. Here are a few unfortunate things I’ve noticed about the act of pigeonholing people.

When we label other people it can restrict our view of the person we are looking at. I have found in the past that once I’ve labelled somebody with something I seem to find ways to back that label up. David is reading a book, well he would do wouldn’t he because he’s serious. David didn’t laugh at that joke you told, but of course he wouldn’t do because he’s serious. But what about when David picks his child up after she has fallen over? Isn’t that kind, loving, caring? When David finds peace looking at an amazing view isn’t that calm, alive, inspired? Labelling others means we stop seeing the whole beautiful human that they are. We stop seeing their range, and we cut ourselves off from contacting the likes of David for his insight on the new piece of art we’ve created. That is a crying shame because you know what, David has a fabulous eye for colour.

Because everyone sees David as serious, he takes that on board and steps into that role. And then David feels trapped, because he is only being one version of himself. David loses out and the world loses out because nobody, including David is seeing his full, beautiful range.

When we take away labels, and stop saying David and Suzy are a certain way, we suddenly give them permission to be human. Because as humans we change the way we are from moment to moment. Imagine a world where everyone was just allowed to be their whole range; there would be no expectations about how we are supposed to show up. The lids of the boxes that keep us being a certain way would be lifted and we would be free to step into whatever emotions and ways of being are coming up for us in the moment.

David is creative, focused, connected, excited, free, funny, alive, committed, adventurous, explorative, colourful, passionate, highly vibrating, quiet, loud, expressive, inward, outward, thoughtful, watchful, joyful, explosive, still, peaceful, calm, insightful, abundant, serious, playful, weird and normal. And yes, sometimes David is serious.

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