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Change your Life by Changing your Labels (Consistency)


Remember my previous post where I argued that:

  1. Something always beats nothing
  2. Something produces momentum and feeds your passion

The key to all of it is CONSISTENCY. 

What is Consistency?

Consistency quite simply is our habits. Whatever good or bad habits you have, that is your consistency, and that is what you are. Want to be different? Change your habits. Change your habits, change your consistency, change your life.

You could actually think of consistency in two ways:

  1. The conformity, uniformity, or sameness in the application of something (logic, exercise, even professional house painting)
  2. The way in which a substance (like a liquid) holds together (What’s its consistency? What’s it made of?)

You can also apply those two ideas to your life as well.

  1. Whatever you DO daily forms your (habitual) consistency. If you do something sporadically, you’re not consistent.
  2. Whatever you ARE is a byproduct of your consistency (whatever you have DONE over a lengthy period of your life determines or shows the quality of your inner make-up).

Consider the following examples:

  1. One man takes a drink, gets drunk, enjoys it, does it again, creates a habit (an addiction), and continues doing this almost DAILY for a period of 10 years. He has been a consistent drunk, so now people refer to him (and he thinks of himself) as a “drunk.” His repeated habitual action (consistency) has changed the quality of his character (his consistency – what he’s made of).
  2. A woman has a terrible experience happen to her, she dreads the next similar situation, her mind begins to become filled with negativity, she begins talking negativity and dreading EVERYTHING and she continues down this path for the next 10 years. She’s now BECOME a “negative person.” Her consistency (inner make-up) has changed as a result of her consistency (her repeated behavior).

What labels define you?

Consider for a moment what labels define you. What do people call you? Say about you? Are they positive or negative labels?

  • Hard-worker
  • Arrogant
  • Not there for your kids (absent)
  • Money grubber (greedy)
  • Studious
  • Obsessed with Korean (or you fill in the word)

Many of these labels may in fact be incorrect or inaccurate, but they are “assigned” to you as a byproduct of what other people observe as your consistent behavior. Additionally, some of these labels may be self-assigned either in pride (“I’m super smart”) or shame (“I’m just a big jerk”).

But remember, your consistency (habitual actions) determines your consistency (or what you get labeled).

The Circular Cycle of Consistency and Labeling

While I’d like to say that “no one ever labels anyone for a singular good or bad action” AND “consistency ALONE determines what other people call you,” that’s not exactly the case. In fact, what often happens is that other people (and yourself) throw around labels haphazardly in moments of strong emotion. Consider the following examples:

  1. An formerly unknown athlete performs exceptionally well, takes the gold, upsets the champions, or breaks a bunch of records. He is suddenly labeled “superstar!”
  2. You are late for work on the morning of a very important meeting (even though there was a traffic accident in front of you and you’re rarely late). You are suddenly labeled “always late!” and “undependable!”
  3. A child breaks his mother’s favorite vase and he’s suddenly labeled “clutz!”
  4. A child accidentally drops his father’s phone in water and is suddenly labeled “stupid!”

As you can see, a great many of your labels can actually stem from your experiences as a child. If you’re “fat” or “stupid” or “stubborn” now, there’s a good chance it began many years ago.

The major problem (and it is a pretty major problem) with labels being spat out in storms of emotion is that, whether truly intended or not, they tend to stick.

consistency-quoteIf you hear yourself called a “jerk” enough times (sometimes all it takes is once), eventually you’ll start believing it’s true (even when it’s NOT). Hearing labels, and self-assigning labels become self-fulfilling prophecies. The more and more you hear “jerk,” the more and more you feel like a “jerk,” and the more and more you start behaving like a “jerk.”

Whatever you consistently hear or think about yourself affects your consistent actions (habits) and changes your inner consistency (character). It’s a circular cycle. That’s why some people spiral downward in depression. That’s why some people spiral upward in success. What’s to hinder someone who consistently hears and does things that match up with his inner consistency?

And that’s why breaking this cycle can be so hard. If you’re spiraling downward in depression and you hear one positive comment, is that enough to snap you out of your tail spin? Or if you’re spiraling upward toward success and you receive one negative comment, is that enough to send you crashing down to earth? Not likely. Those kinds of “unusual” labels and comments are generally pushed out of our minds while we assure ourselves (truthfully or not), “What they said isn’t really true.”

What you can do with your labels

There are really only TWO things you can do with your labels (because the third thing here is really just the first thing again):

  1. Accept them as TRUTH and perform according to what those labels tell you
  2. Reject them as FALSE and actively work to correct the misconceptions about you
  3. Be absolutely PASSIVE about them – which is actually the first step toward accepting them as TRUTH, because saying, “That’s not true!” requires effort and energy, but passivity just says, “Eh” and keeps listening.

Realize that labels may “describe you but they don’t define you”

The above is a quote I heard from a pastor recently. Ask yourself if the labels you’re accepting are really TRUE or if they are merely TEMPORARY.

Dave Ramsey says, “Poor and broke are very different. Broke is a temporary situation. I’ve been broke. Poor is a state of mind. It keeps people STUCK in broke.”

  • Are you really “fat” or are you just “temporarily overweight”?
  • Are you really “stupid” or just “didn’t put in the effort this time”?

Determine which labels you’ve been believing are TRUE and which are just TEMPORARY and then set about the change the TEMPORARY.

How do you change your Consistency?

How do you change your inner make-up? How do you change your consistency? How do you change your labels? It’s the same way you got here in the first place. “You are what you consistently do.” Now do something different! DAILY!

Want to learn Korean? Do it daily. Tell yourself DAILY you can and you will. Start with the label “Korean scholar” and act consistently toward that label.

I’ll post a new “Key to Korean” this week on Friday as this post today fits better as a stand-alone motivational post. On Friday, we’ll look more at how you can use consistency (in studying Korean) to change your consistency (the fact that you now KNOW Korean).

What labels do you hear that are merely TEMPORARY and not TRUE? What only describes you yet doesn’t define you?

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