sixtyandme logo
We are community supported and may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Breaking Free: The Pitfalls of Labels, Levels, and Righteousness

By Diane Bruno March 18, 2024 Mindset

If you are anything like me, you recall a time when lively debate was not only welcomed but celebrated – a time when the exchange of ideas was seen as the perfect avenue for growth, learning, and understanding.

Each of us possesses a unique perspective shaped by our personal histories, upbringings, moral compasses, experiences, demographic, and age. We once revered experts in various fields, regardless of whether we agreed with them, recognizing the value in their insights, background, and credentials. We found meaning even in perspectives that challenged our own.

However, with the rise of social media, we’ve witnessed a transformation into a “society of sides.” While we espouse the virtue of tolerance, we often fail to extend that tolerance to those who hold differing views.

In my practice, I encounter this phenomenon daily – the danger of labels and levels – how they can limit our potential and hinder our progress. More and more people are expressing fear of sharing their opinions for fear of offending the delicate sensibilities of our society. In extreme cases, individuals live in terror of being labeled and “canceled.”

This shift is particularly challenging for those in their 50s and beyond, who remember a time when expertise, wisdom, and tolerance were practiced with greater reverence. As a life coach, I often find myself guiding individuals through the complexities of self-discovery and personal growth in this new culture that surrounds us.

The Pervasive Nature of Labels

We are living in a time when labels are part of our everyday narratives. From gender classifications to political affiliations, labels permeate our society, often overshadowing individual complexity and uniqueness. Whether it’s the pressure to conform to societal expectations or the tendency to categorize others based on superficial characteristics, labels shape our perceptions and influence our behavior in profound ways.

The Consequences of Labeling and Leveling

Labels and levels carry significant consequences for our self-esteem and sense of worth. Internalizing these labels can lead to rigid mindsets and hinder personal growth, perpetuating harmful stereotypes and divisions within society. When we allow ourselves to be defined by external labels, we limit our potential and confine ourselves to narrow definitions of success and identity.

Combatting Societal Pressures: Strategies for Self-Discovery

Self-Reflection and Introspection

Take the time to explore your values, passions, and beliefs. Understanding yourself on a deeper level empowers you to resist external pressures and live authentically. Journaling, meditation, and engaging in meaningful conversations with trusted confidants are valuable tools for self-reflection and introspection.

Building Supportive Communities

Surround yourself with individuals who celebrate your uniqueness and encourage you to be your true self. Meaningful connections with like-minded individuals provide strength and solidarity in the face of societal expectations. Seek out communities and organizations that align with your values and interests, and actively participate in activities and events that foster a sense of belonging and acceptance.

Challenging Limiting Beliefs

Learn to recognize and challenge the negative self-talk that may be holding you back. Reframing your perspective and focusing on your strengths enables you to overcome the fear of judgment and embrace your true potential. Practice self-compassion and cultivate a mindset of growth and possibility. Remember that your worth is not determined by external validation or societal standards, but by your inherent value as a unique individual.

Embracing Vulnerability

Allow yourself to be vulnerable and authentic in your interactions with others. Share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences openly and honestly, and be willing to listen to and learn from others. Vulnerability fosters connection and empathy, creating opportunities for genuine human connection and understanding.

The Dangers of Righteousness: Navigating Moral Compasses

In our quest for meaning and understanding, many of us carve out a moral compass for ourselves, drawing guidance from religion, ideology, or political affiliation. While having a strong moral foundation can provide clarity and direction in our lives, there are inherent dangers in becoming too entrenched in our beliefs. One such peril is the trap of righteousness – the belief that our way of living and thinking is superior to others, and the inclination to judge and impose our ideas and morality onto others.

It’s crucial to acknowledge that while we may hold firm to our beliefs and values, it doesn’t grant us the authority to pass judgment on those who may think or live differently. The danger of righteousness lies in its inherent arrogance and lack of inclusivity. When we become self-righteous, we close ourselves off to the diversity of human experience and diminish the validity of alternative perspectives.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of righteousness, especially when we feel passionate about our beliefs. However, it’s essential to remain mindful and vigilant against the temptation to judge others based on our own moral standards. Instead, we should strive to keep an open heart and mind, embracing empathy and understanding for those who may hold differing viewpoints.

Maintaining humility in the face of our convictions is key to navigating the dangers of righteousness. While it’s important to stand by our principles, we must do so with humility and grace, recognizing that our truth may not be universal.

Striking Out Against Labels and Levels

Challenge Stereotypes

Be proactive in challenging stereotypes and misconceptions, both within yourself and in your interactions with others. Educate yourself about different cultures, identities, and perspectives, and speak out against prejudice and discrimination whenever you encounter it.

Lead by Example

Model authenticity and integrity in your actions and behaviors. Be unapologetically yourself and encourage others to do the same. Embrace your uniqueness and celebrate the diversity of human experience. By living authentically and without apology, you inspire others to do the same.

Promote Empathy and Understanding

Foster empathy and understanding in your interactions with others. Seek to understand different viewpoints and perspectives, even if you don’t agree with them. Practice active listening and engage in meaningful dialogue that encourages mutual respect and empathy.

Be a Catalyst for Change

Use your influence and resources to effect positive change in your community and beyond. Support organizations and initiatives that promote diversity, inclusion, and social justice. Be a vocal advocate for change and use your platform to amplify marginalized voices. By taking a stand against injustice and inequality, you become a powerful force for positive change in the world.

The perils of labels, levels, and righteousness are undeniable in today’s society. But by embracing our uniqueness, challenging societal expectations, and engaging with differing opinions with respect and openness, we can break free from the constraints of labels and levels and live a life of authenticity and fulfillment.

Remember, you are not defined by the labels others assign to you – you are a complex individual with unlimited potential. Embrace your uniqueness, celebrate your journey, and dare to defy the expectations of society.

As a dedicated life coach, devoted to supporting women on their journey of personal renewal, I’m delighted to extend a special offer exclusively to Sixty and Me readers. Until April 15, I’m providing a 20% discount on my Life Coaching services. Just enter the code SIXTYANDME when purchasing a session or package to receive this exclusive community discount.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you consider yourself open-minded? Have you been labeled a certain way or canceled because of your opinions? What strategies have helped you to show that discussing different ideas enriches one’s mind?

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Diane Bruno

Thank you all for your feedback and for reading my article! I do yearn for those days of facts ruling and civilized discussion! Let me know if there are any topics you would like me to cover :)

Viktoria Vidali

In a world where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish fact from fiction, especially with AI fakes, we have to become evermore sharp and critical in recognizing the true from the false. Which means checking multiple sources and/or verifying the information personally, if possible.


A timely reminder. Thank you.


At 68, I’m able to remember that time when expertise and wisdom were respected and lively discourse could lead to compromised solutions with benefits for those involved.

A key difference today, as you alluded to, is the rise of social media. More specifically, the disinformation that abounds on the SM platforms.

In the past, substantive discussions with varying points of view were based in facts that were verifiable, and thus accepted by all those involved in the discourse. Today, many people are prone to simply accept information they read or hear on their selected platforms, without bothering to confirm the veracity by doing a little research. Lying has become pervasive, and when large numbers of people are willing to accept that, when they are loathe to spend time seeking facts, our discourse has no common ground from which solutions can blossom.

All of our feelings matter, but without fact there is no valid basis for discussion.


That reminds me of the T-shirt that said, “Without evidence, you’re just another person with an opinion.” How right you are about social media. How can so many believe what they see online with absolutely nothing to back it up? Did we fail to teach our youth to think for themselves? It would seem so.

Joyce Ramsay

This reminds me of my time in Asia where I learned from Singaporean Chinese that it was not my job to provide my knowledge but to watch my staff get an education. I still think that is a deep concept, but if the ‘student’ asks questions and observes, then those with knowledge can pass it on but only to those interested.

The Author

Diane Bruno is the founder of Diane Bruno Life Coach and Diane Bruno Freelance. She is passionate about empowering women to live authentically! In her role as a Certified Life Coach, she is dedicated to guiding and partnering with her clients, committed to their success through life's challenges and opportunities.

You Might Also Like