Updated: Feb 22, 2018
The clip below is from the Academy Award-winning movie, A Beautiful Mind with Russel Crowe. For those of you who haven't see it, I highly recommend you do. It's just great filmmaking. The story follows the life of John Nash, a brilliant mathematician who won the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work in Game Theory.
In this scene, John Nash, who has been suffering from serious mental delusions all his life, has a major, life-altering breakthrough. For the first time he is able to recognize with full awareness that the three "people" who have been constantly with him and influencing his actions aren't even real. As these three imaginary people are encouraging him to kill his wife and baby, he flashes to his memories of those three. He realizes that the little girl, Marcee, never gets old. She never changes. He rushes out to tell his wife ... "She never gets old. Marcee can't be real, she never get's old." This is a turning point for his life. The recognition that these three are illusions.
As with many good stories, the actual facts are sometimes altered to point out a universal truth and this film only echoes Nash's life, but the insight is a valuable one. In his mind he sees that Marcee never changes, never gets old. He says "she isn't real." And he's right.
Everyone is changing all the time; they are happy, they are sad, they make wise decisions, they make foolish decisions, the like their situation, they don't like it. Every label or fixed idea that we assign to a person makes them less real to us and makes us less able to connect to them as a person. Labels don't change, people do.
I'm not even saying that labels are wrong, they can be helpful in sorting and categorizing all the different people we come into contact with every day, but if we are really trying to connect and communicate and create new possibilities, it has to be without labels.
Try this, think of someone you want to connect with, make list on paper of every label and idea and assigned characteristic you hold of them. Tear the list up. How does that feel?