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(This is an excerpt from the chapter "Labeling and Timing" in the book Life's Lessons Learned.)


The Effect of Labeling

In many different settings I have observed how persons can label or characterize themselves or allow others to label or characterize them in ways that can effectively retard their progress. We should be careful not to label or define ourselves by some temporary quality. The only single quality that should characterize us is that each of us is a son or daughter of God. That fact transcends all other characteristics.

Yet there are those among us who choose to define or label themselves by some temporary characteristic, such as occupation, appearance, honors, athletic ability, or fame.

When we choose to define or label ourselves by some characteristic that is temporary or trivial in eternal terms, we de-emphasize what is most important about us and overemphasize what is relatively unimportant. This label can lead us down the wrong path and hinder our eternal progress. For example, a person who defines himself as an underachiever tends to look for—or encourage others to look for—things that interpret his behavior in those terms. That has a very different consequence than if he and others look on his quality of underachieving as simply a temporary tendency that needs to be disciplined in the course of seeking graduation, employment, or eternal life. We should always remember that we are sons or daughters of Heavenly Parents, seeking to qualify for our eternal heirship under that parentage.

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