From the moment we are born, we must be called something. We must be given a name. Whether that name has a familial heritage or a personal meaning or is a projection by our name giver, no one names their child the words we often name ourselves..."ugly, idiot, fat, stupid, crazy,"--and the list goes on.
What we call ourselves matters, but so do the names others call us. I have never met anyone who can't recall being called some type of hurtful name. Most often, the person who said it was a family member or loved one. When a stranger screams a name at us, we might react or ignore it -- but we move on. But when a loved one calls us a name, we never forget it. I once sat in session with a 75 year-old man whose eyes filled with tears as he recalled being called "trash" by the neighborhood kids when he was just a 10-year-old boy. When he told the story, it was like it had just happened yesterday and his aging, tear-stained face reflected what I saw in his eyes: shame. Name calling by other lingers and name calling by ourselves permeates who we were, who we are and who we want to become. Shame often comes from names.
How many of us make a mistake or do something we wished we hadn't and say "You are so stupid! You are an idiot!"? How many of us call people we love the same names or worse, either in our heads or out loud? How many of us say to ourselves "You are strong...you are capable......you are imperfect and that is perfectly ok,"? Names matter.
We identify in the world by how we label ourselves and how we label others. The shaming and labeling on social media run rampant. And all of us act as if it is just another normal day when we hear hatred spewed on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or whatever new media source has popped up into our daily lives. And that would be okay, I suppose, if anxiety and depression weren't at an all time high amongst our children, our teens and our adults. What you tolerate within the world is what you tolerate within yourself.
Certainly our cultural wounds penetrate our personal wounds and social media is just the tip of the iceberg with regard to the state of our collective mental health. But it all begins at birth with what we are called - there is a beginning. Who among us would look at a photo of a newborn and think of shame-filled words like "ugly, fat, stupid or crazy?" No, when we see a newborn we must remember that we were all once newborns and that inside, we still deserve the reverence that a baby commands...and we must command ourselves to use words towards ourselves and others that reflect names such as "beautiful, lovely, complete, deserving and most of all....sacred."
Dr. Kim Sage