“Examine the labels you apply to yourself. Every single label is a boundary or limit of one kind or another.” Dr. Wayne Dyer

Every once in a while we hear a story of someone who clawed their way out of poverty and to become a famous actor, or doctor, or sports figure. In spite of the dire circumstances of their families, their neighbourhood, their disadvantages, they rise above and make something of themselves. Some say it’s just luck. Others say they are very intelligent. Still others say that they are the exception to the rule. Perhaps it’s a combination of all of these along with one more important ingredient: attitude.

Everyone of these people, every Trevor Noah or Oprah Winfrey have the attitude of not accepting the labels that others put upon them. They refused to accept and self define their circumstances. They moved out of their comfort zone to try something different. They put themselves ‘out there’, took a risk and followed their dreams. If that didn’t work, they redefined who they were, tried another path and poured energy into moving forward. If it’s possible for just one person to do this, then it is possible for everyone to make that change.

Is it difficult? Yes. There are hardships and sacrifices that you make in order to redefine yourself. Sometimes you have to leave behind family and friends. Sometimes it’s risking economic security. I believe that everyone has dreams in life, but not everyone believes in themselves enough to pursue them or to risk failing. In order to be successful at anything, you only have to get up one more time than you are knocked down.

“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” Henry Ford

When I came into recovery I had some very limiting labels of who I was: a loser, unlovable, hopeless cause, a jerk, a failure at life. Each one of these labels was defining me. Each one limited me; if I saw myself as a loser, then I couldn’t see myself as a winner or even see myself turning things around to become one. I had cut a groove in my attitude toward life that was familiar, and comfortable. I knew I was in a hell, but it was a familiar hell: would I risk this known for something unknown that might not work out?

We all have labels that define us. We give them to ourselves and we receive them from others. Sometimes we deserve them and other times not. But we don’t have to accept them and live with them if we choose not to. I can redefine who I am. I can have an attitude of change. I can change my perspective from one of problem, to challenge. When I hit a brick wall I can sit dejectedly before it or I can build a ladder. It’s up to me and always has been. I don’t have to accept past labels. I can make new ones. And, I’m not alone.


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