The Power of Labels

During Minnesota winters all the cars tend to become a similar shade of gray. Slush splashes onto vehicles with every trip, road salt and sand make the side panels and doors a grimy mess. And really, there’s no point to getting a wash until the forecast says we’ll have a spell with no precipitation which, let’s be honest, usually means April.

I recently drove somewhere with my daughter who informed me that someone had written “a**hole” in the dirt on the passenger side of my car. It likely would have happened in a public parking lot, since my car is parked in a garage at home. At first I laughed it off. Whatever, clearly someone was just having fun, being juvenile, they obviously didn’t know me.

But then of course, doubt creeps in. Did I accidentally cut someone off in a parking lot and they wrote that as retaliation? Did I offend someone somewhere? I tried to shrugged that off. I’ve worked hard to always be my true authentic self, if someone doesn’t like me, that’s their problem.

Of course more snow and freezing fog (freezing fog?!) was in the forecast, so there was no opportunity to get my car washed. While getting gas one day I tried to rub it off, but it was quite literally hardened onto my car in the salt grime, so I left it.

I found myself thinking about it every time I drove somewhere. It wasn’t a good feeling. I felt like I had been besmirched, slandered. It was a dark cloud came over me every time I drove somewhere, and I started dreading every trip.

Finally, we had a spell of clear weather and I breathed a sigh of relief as my car went through the car wash. She came out all shiny and pretty on the other side, scratches and all, my reliable car that both girls learned to drive in.

As I drove away, I thought about the power of that one label on my car. It was on my vehicle, not me, and yet…it bothered me so. It made me wonder…if that flippant remark written onto my car could have such an impact on my outlook, what impact do the labels I give to myself have over me? What do I tell myself everyday about myself? Are those positive or negative things?

What labels do you give yourself?

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