A few years ago, someone called me a “viper”. I was exiting a very difficult and painful situation that I had held on to for far too long. For a brief moment, coming across the communication that characterized me in such a way, I was hurt. And then, I was elated. Yes, I was a viper. You don’t want to get bit by a viper. There was a secret power in the label that my attacker failed to see they were giving to me. I looked up the lore of the viper in shamanism and it made sense in the context of that situation. Hurtful labels often belie a great fear.
Now, I could have cried and whined and been affronted by the label and perhaps made a big trauma-drama over it saying, “how dare you say that about me,” etc. Instead I wear it as a badge of honor. By labeling me as a viper, the person who did it gave me a little bit of power, the power of perspective, albeit in a backhanded way. That day, I learned that I don’t have to accept labels I don’t like and moreover, if I am characterized in a negative way, I can re-frame the label to empower me. Try it the next time someone calls you a pig. Pigs are actually very sensitive, intelligent beings.
There is power in labeling but only if you allow the label to stick to you in the way your label-maker intends it. If you re-frame the attack, like I did, then you can take your power back from the labels that are intended to hurt you.
Jessica Rabbit perhaps put it a little more succinctly, “I am not bad. I’m just drawn that way.” Careful how you draw yourself and how you draw others. There is great power in labels.
Today’s body positive thought:
Follow Actress & Producer Kristin West on her adventures, whether on a movie set, at a film festival or on her travels.