Powerful techniques to optimize your emotions, beliefs, and behaviors

Labeling Exercises

Defining, labeling, and judging our experiences helps create our emotional and physical sensation responses. When we drop our definitions, labels, and judgments of experience our experience is more direct. Knowing firsthand that our notions of good and bad, of attractive and repulsive are just defining labels, we then begin to understand how our labels color and shape what we see. When we directly experience the power of definitions, labels, and judgments we begin to notice how our challenges in living come from our views of experience rather than from experience itself. Existence is fairly neutral event, yet our defining labels are not.

Through labeling and defining our experience, we lose a clear view of our world and ourselves. Through labeling and unlabeling we begin to cut through the distorting and obscuring filters of defining labels. In the moments when defining labels fall away our experience is more present.

Below are three labeling exercises. They are "Relabeling", "Peeling Off Labels", and "Polarity Labeling".

Warning: Folks with a history of mental illness, PTSD, or panic are urged not to use these techniques without a therapist. If you decide to do these processes you will agree to absolve the webmaster, the webhost,, and Steve Mensing of any responsibility for the application or misapplication of these processes. There is always in any process the possibility that someone could experience some discomfort.



A misused label can create emotional distress and a lack of motivation. Labels can include single words and entire phrases. An example of a distressing and unmotivating label: "I'm a procrastinator." An example of a more helpful and motivating label: "I'm a careful pacer." Did you notice your emotional response to these two labels?

Labels are arbitrary by definition and are often preceded by the verb "to be". Examples: Los Angeles is crummy or Relationships are traps. Most labels tend to be overgeneralizations excluding many of the subject's positive, neutral, and negative qualities. When we practice a label often enough, the mere mention of that label can create an automatic emotional response. And labels can keep us from viewing the subject's other aspects and possibilities. We see negative examples of labeling in prejudicial name-calling and in psychiatric diagnosis. No label catches the full essence of a human being and often they thwart growth and change because the labeled believe their label.

Problematic Label- Helpful Label

I'm a pig. - I'm a food lover.
Pete is an egomaniac. - Pete is self-interested.
Prison is total hell. - Prison is a learning experience.
I'm a failure. - I'm multi-faceted.
Panic attack. - Energy festival.
Panic symptoms. - Excitement.
Anxiety. - Energized future perspective.
Phobia. - Forgoing excitement.

Steps to Relabeling

1. Indentify the problematic label. Example: Hugo is a bum.
The Problematic Label: ________________________________.

2. Name the positive traits of the event, person, or thing you labeled.
Examples of Hugo's positive traits: Independence, creative, knack for getting street funding.
Positive Traits: __________________________________________.

3. Choose a new helpful label, based on positive traits that describe the event, person, or thing. Example: Hugo is a creative fund raiser.
Helpful Label: ____________________________________________.

4. Utilize your helpful labeling wherever you want. Problems are often easier to solve when they are relabeled.

Tips on Creating Helpful Labels

Problems have positive aspects or opportunities for learning.

Events, people, & things can be viewed as having positive, neutral, and negative traits.

Relabeling helps us better accept people, situations, and things.

Look at a label from a distance--see the larger picture. List the positives, neutrals, and negatives. Even negatives possess positive aspects. War creates helpful new technology and famines bring new growing procedures.

Avoid negative adjectives.

How can your experience expand your awareness or teach you something valuable?

How can you gain from your experience?

Could your experience assist others?

Peeling off Labels

"Peeling Off Labels" is a simple exercise to pull the cognitive stuffing out of emotions, beliefs, and physical sensations. This is achieved by removing unconscious defining labels from beliefs, feelings, and physical sensations. Here are the steps:

1. Relax and do left nasal dominance breathing. Gently pinch your right nostril shut and breathe deeply, fully, and slowly from your left nostril for about
12 inhalations and exhalations.

2. Choose a feeling, belief, or physical sensation. Get a sense of it or feel it.

3. Allow any labels you have about your beliefs, feelings, or physical sensations to come up. Observe them and let them to turn off. Keep allowing any labels to pop up into your awareness and let them turn off until you are just experiencing your target without a cognitive overlay or label.

4. Now call whatever is left: "Energy" or "Awareness." Let the energy or awareness be there and allow them to turn off.

Polarity Labeling

1. Relax and do left nasal dominance breathing. Gently pinch your right nostril shut and breathe fully and deeply through your left nostril during the duration of this exercise.

2. Focus on your target (belief, feeling, or physical sensation). Allow any label to pop into awareness. Pay attention to that label for a few moments and then immediately shift to the opposite of that label.

3. Shift back and forth between these polar opposites. Go no more than 8 seconds with each side of the polarity before you move to the other side. Keep shifting back and forth until the two labels blows out. Examples: Good/bad. Beautiful/ugly. Powerful/weak. Loving/hateful.


Have fun, Steve

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