The Genisis of the Self-Label

‘… We come to label and describe ourselves in various ways. For example, suppose you wrote a letter to a pen friend – how would you describe yourself? Now supposing you were writing for a job – how would you describe yourself? If you were writing to a dating agency – how would you describe yourself? And finally, if you were writing to a priest or someone similar to confess something and seek forgiveness, how would you then describe yourself? If you wrote each of those letters, the chances are that each one would say different things about you. This is because we as humans are very complex and have many different qualities. But when we become depressed, the richness, variety and vitality of our potential selves drain away and we start thinking of ourselves in rather simple terms, or labels. The labels might be triggered by life events. For instance, you might be rejected by someone you love and then label yourself unloveable. Or you might fail at some important task and then label yourself a failure. Negative labels are often sparked off by negative feelings, which in turn may be strong echoes from the past.’

– Paul Gilbert: Overcoming Depression A self-help guide using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques

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