Journaling Prompts to Explore How Your Labels Impact You!

Woman pouting and pondering her labels against blue background

This is a second article in a series exploring the dangers of labelling people (whether ourselves or others).

In the first article we explored how labelling starts young, shared some examples of labels and looked at how damaging labels can be—whether ‘positive’ or ‘negative’. And your homework was to identify up to 10 of your own labels (ideally at least 3-5 labels to work with).

So if you haven’t read the first article yet, I recommend reading it now Names Do Hurt: How Your “Labels” Might Be Limiting You! and identifying those 3-5 labels to use with the journaling prompts below.

Anyway, this week, we take a quick look at a less well-known issue with labels and then I share some Journaling Prompts below for you to explore those labels more deeply.

In this Article:

  • A less well-known issue with labels
  • Journaling Prompts to Explore and Understand Your Labels
  • Wrap-up

A quick look at a less well-known issue with labels

In these busy times, it’s worth noting that our labels can also make more work for us.

How? Well, labels can mean that other people can avoid work or self-growth—at your expense. For example:

  • As “The Office Mom” you may get trapped into organizing every leaving/birthday/retirement card, whip-round and gift, team celebrations, even cleaning the office break room. No-one else needs to step up, because they know the “Office Mom” will do it. Called emotional labour—it’s unpaid and usually under-appreciated too.
  • As “The Disciplinarian” with your kids, you may get trapped in the role of ‘laying down the law’. This means you have extra tasks to do, and your partner doesn’t need to learn these skills for themselves. And it could also impact your relationship with your children as you take on a disproportionate amount of the difficult conversations.

So, it’s worth considering: Do your labels create or result in extra work for you? If so, it’s some extra motivation to shed those labels…

And now it’s time to explore and understand your labels!

Hand with ButterfliesJournaling Prompts to Explore and Understand Your Labels

This exercise helps us review our labels and begin exploring limiting beliefs that may be holding us back.

  1. First, write out your list of up to 10 (both ‘positive’ and ‘negative’) labels that apply to you.

    • This should include current labels, as well as ‘past’ labels that perhaps only your close family or inner critic still uses…
  2. Now for each label, do you see it as positive, negative or both?
    • Does the label fit how you see yourself?
    • Do you like or dislike the label?
    • Is this label viewed positively by your family, community or larger society?
    • Finally put a + (plus sign) next to the positive ones and a – (minus sign) next to the negative ones.
  3. How much do you agree with the label?
    • Is this label a part of who you truly are? Is it accurate in any way?
    • Add a percentage against each label to represent the percent of time you think this label applies to you (where 100% is always, and 0% is never).
    • So, thinking about this label now, how does it make you feel? (about yourself/others/life)
  4. Where do you think each label came from?
    • Did it come from a person eg. a parent, friend/s, teacher/s, colleague/s etc.?
    • Or perhaps it came from from our broader society eg. TV, a specific book or books, magazines, social media etc.?
    • Be as specific as possible. Name a specific person/book/TV show etc. if you can.
  5. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each label?
    Each label will have had both “positive” and “negative” impacts and it’s helpful to acknowledge and understand these.

    1. What do you gain from this label? (use the questions below to make a list)
      • If relevant, how has this label helped you in the past?
      • What positive meaning or steps have you taken as a result of this label?
      • And how does this label work for you now in life/work/achieving your goals?
      • TIP: for “negative” labels, consider what you get to avoid or not face up to…
    2. How might this label get in the way or limit you? (use the questions below to make a list)
      • If relevant, how has this label harmed you in the past? What were the ‘negative’ impacts on you?
      • How does this label work against you currently in life/work/achieving your goals?
      • TIP: for “positive” labels, consider what you don’t get to do (or do comfortably), how you might be trapped by it…
  6. Which labels (if any) would you like to keep? And which (if any) would you like to ‘lose’?
    Review your list of labels and consider what you’ve learned. Now:

    • Circle the labels you’d like to keep.
    • Strikethrough the labels you’d like to lose.


  • Simply notice when people use labels for you.
    • If you’re feeling brave, speak up and let the person know you don’t like the label.
    • Not feeling brave? That’s OK! Make a mental note. And then at a more convenient time, sit down and make a plan for what you will say next time it happens.

Wrap-upFierce Kindness Logo

Labels are never the WHOLE truth, they’re simply a shortcut. And we must remember that there’s always a cost—even with positive labels.

We must also remember that when we ‘allow’ ourselves to be labelled, we’re allowing others to put us in a box. This box makes it hard for us to behave (or be seen) differently—and comes with a host of hidden expectations. So we must watch that our labels don’t also create more work for us…

How would you be different without your labels?

Once you label me, you negate me. Soren Kierkegaard

Change the world. Start with you!

Share your thoughts and what you think of this article in the comments below

If you liked this article on labels and limiting beliefs, you may also like:

Image of Woman pouting against blue background by Kraken Images

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.