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What Happens When You Drop The Labels?

November 17, 2014

Life doesn’t make much sense to me without the idea of an organizing principle.  My experience is that not only is there an organizing principle, it’s benevolent. (In spite of what often seems to be overwhelming evidence to the contrary.)

I notice when I cooperate with it I’m led in more satisfying directions than when I avoid, ignore or disregard it.  And most important to me, I seem better able to work cooperatively with others.

Here’s where things can get a little dicey.  It doesn’t matter to me if it’s called God, Him, Her, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Soul, Neighbor, Friend, Goddess, Nature, Gravity or Brain Matter.

What matters to me is that I feel it—this awareness of a life force that’s bigger than me—in my heart and in my bones.

I respect that to some it will matter what this life force is called.  My intention isn’t to offend.

My intention is to see if by simply dropping a label we may have more in common than we thought.

I’ve never heard a voice or seen a finger pointing to the path I should take.  It’s a felt sense that seems to pull or push me in a direction that feels ‘clean’.  When I listen to it, life requires less effort.  Decisions seem to make themselves.  People are easier to get along with.  The drama is replaced with a sense of willingness and curiosity on both sides.

I want to be clear about something.  Whatever that organizing principle is, it isn’t ‘on my side’ and giving the win to my football team.  It doesn’t protect me from life or the pain that’s inherent in this being human thing.

But when I drop the labels it seems to be on everybody’s side.  What it does do is provide a wisdom base available to anyone who pauses to notice.

When I drop the labels my communication transforms—I have nothing to defend, prove, enlighten, save, advise, or set you straight about.  Without labels I’m able to see you, and to find our commonalities and more importantly, our mutual interests and goals.

When I start from a label I find it hard to see anything other than where we disagree.  So I dig up more and more lofty arguments to support my position.  And I notice you do the same thing.  Finally, when we run out of arguments we throw up our hands with a ‘whatever!’ and go find someone who agrees with us.  Partners and best friends are often great for that :).

Can we agree that we all want to feel like we matter?  Can we agree that with very few exceptions we’re hardwired to want to be in community, to feel a part of something?

Can we agree that what we were handed at birth was the luck of the draw, and that we really can’t take credit (or blame) for what we came in with?

Can we agree that we all suffer from confusion, and limited understanding and a powerful tendency to avoid discomfort?

If we can agree on all those things do we have to agree on a label?  Might life work better if we put our attention on living out what the label represents?

From that starting point can we, together, find more and more ways to use our powerful similarities to achieve our common purposes?

If we can agree on that, we have at least a 50/50 chance to shape the world in a direction that excludes no one and serves everyone.  I’d rather devote my life to that than to proving that my label is right and yours is wrong.

Any labels keeping you stuck or angry or separated from anyone?

Much love,


  1. Karen says:

    I wanted to say something profound in response, but really couldn’t come up with anything other than a very loud ‘HERE, HERE!!

  2. Julie says:

    Robyn, your words always strike a chord with me, even though I don’t take the time to tell you. Today you really hit the nail on the head. THANK YOU for your devotion to constant reflection and sharing your thoughts with the rest of us.

  3. Bill adams says:

    Robyn – Reading your posts is one of my “breath of fresh air” moments of respite and refocus. You are indeed keeping in touch and the connection is one of shared history as well as actual ruminations on what is going on in our minds. thanks for keeping me in better touch. Your old friend Bones

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