The labels that define us
And how we limit ourselves by becoming them
I remember it so well. The day I became ‘a sick person’.
It was such a shock to me. I’d always been proud of my health. “I’m ‘a healthy person’, I’ve got good genes”, I’d say to myself, and anyone else who’d listen. I was someone who could put her body through endless abuse, and come out smelling of roses. Sure, I got my share of colds and ‘flu, but nothing worse than that. Until one day in my late 30s, that is.
“You’re sick. You have ulcerative colitis. It’s incurable. You’ll be on meds for the rest of your life.”
That’s all it took. Those words flipped a switch in me, and I became ‘a sick person’.
My behaviour as ‘a sick person’ was very different from my behaviour as ‘a healthy person’. I took fistfuls of meds — to stop the flares when they happened, and to prevent them from happening. I panicked if I was more than a minute from a toilet. And spent hours scoping out routes I could take to alleviate my panic. I stopped exercising, not wanting to stress out my body any more than it already was.
I lurched from one flare to another. I had no idea what brought them on — it didn’t seem to matter to me. After all, my disease was incurable, so why spend time on such trivialities? Instead, I spent my time on my visits to doctors. Lots of them.
People felt sorry for me. My friends and work colleagues, and complete strangers in pharmacies and medical labs. They looked at me as though I had a life sentence hanging over me. Because that’s how I looked at myself.
After about 18 months as ‘a sick person’, something happened. I woke up one day with a clear picture in my head of a much older me. And this me was bursting with health.
In that moment, I stopping being ‘a sick person’ and started being me.
Without realising it, I’d become the person I’d been told I was. A sick person. I’d become the label I’d been given.
In so doing, I’d handed over full responsibility for myself to others. In believing what I’d been told, I’d absolved myself of responsibility for my body, my health.
This realisation both shocked me, and spurred me into action.
I started a lifelong quest to educate myself. About this disease and others like it, and about health, in general. And to understand and love myself. Deeply. This was the only way I could take back full responsibility for my body and my health. Which I did, with great success.
Turns out, I’d been living the labels I’d been given my whole life. The dutiful daughter/wife/friend. The good person. The rebel. The outsider. And, in living these labels, I’d limited myself. So much so, that I’d become someone I’m not.
I’m not alone in this. I see people living their labels all around me.
- The single mother.
- The cancer survivor.
- The daughter.
- The grieving widow(er).
- The mother.
- The business(wo)man.
- The son.
- The [insert your religion, here].
- The father.
- The [insert your profession, here].
- The sister.
- The ex-pat.
- The immigrant.
- The brother.
- The [insert your label, here].
I see you over-identifying with your labels. To your detriment. You’re limiting yourself, because that label is but one aspect of you. And you are so much more. You’re limitless, multi-dimensional. Not the unidimensional person that label makes you.
Today, I decide how I live. I decide what goes in and on my body. I decide what — and whom — I surround myself with. I am neither ‘a sick person’, nor ‘a healthy person’.
I am me. And I’m limitless. Just like you.
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Sarah Blick is Well-Being Wizard and Life Coach at Aging Disgracefully Well. She specializes in helping people get unstuck, master their minds, become more resilient to life’s stresses, and live the meaningful life they know is possible.
Sarah has the rare combination of unparalleled life experience and serious business expertise. She spent 28 years working internationally as a game-changing senior marketer, getting exceptional results for world-renowned organizations such as Virgin (working directly with Richard Branson) and the University of Toronto; and the last five years transforming lives via strategic coaching (life and career). Alongside her successful career, she relentlessly pursued another passion: understanding why, despite having everything she’d worked so hard for, she felt as though something was missing from her life. This pursuit led her to experience more life changes than most people do in three lifetimes, many of them very challenging. By the time she found what was missing, Sarah had completely transformed her life and lifestyle. Today, she is fit, healthy, happy and fulfilled — and aging disgracefully well. So well, in fact, that her metabolic age is 26 years lower than her actual age. Her successful career and personal transformation have helped her develop what she considers to be three of her superpowers: exceptional courage, uncommon resilience, fearless action-taking. These now sit alongside her instinctive qualities of compassion, leadership and tenacity to enable her to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
If you’re looking for objective advice about how to make some changes in your life, Sarah can help. She offers 60-Minute Block-Busting Sessions, 90-Minute Stress-Busting Sessions, Four-Week Mind Mastery Intensives, and a Three-Month Your Lifestyle Rehab™ Programme. To find out how you can transform your life and feel more alive, visit Aging Disgracefully Well today.