The Danger of Labels


I caught myself the other day saying, “Well, that person is simply crazy.”  I realized once the words were out of my mouth that by labelling their behavior, it got me off the hook from having to try to understand it.

If someone is crazy, or stupid, or lazy, or evil – whatever label you choose to apply – then the problem is just their personality.  However, Restitution teaches us that all behavior is purposeful, and that every behavior is a person’s best attempt to meet a basic need in that particular moment.

It’s hard sometimes to tease out the reason that a child has been mean to another child, or why that colleague stomped out of your office, or to figure out why your spouse is giving you the silent treatment.  But solutions are found in understanding what people need, not in writing people off.

I’ve been trying to pay attention to when these labels pop into my head, and what I’ve noticed is that it’s when I’m feeling frustrated and can’t see a solution.  So maybe it’s not that there are so many crazy, evil people out there… Maybe the truth is that I need to find a way to get past my own feelings in order to listen to those people that I don’t yet understand.


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