by Karen Frazier

I know a guy who has some pretty impressive abilities. He's used them for years on investigations without the need to label or categorize them. Instead, he follows his instincts, and it helps him be a thorough and careful paranormal investigator. Once the label of psychic is applied to him, however, something changes. Suddenly those instincts, which have always flowed so naturally for him, seem to disappear. 

I understand completely. I've used my own instincts on investigations for years, and doing so has yielded a ton of fascinating evidence. When people began suggesting to me I was psychic, I resisted the label. At most, I was willing to admit I had "spidey sense" where I could notice if something unseen might be nearby and thus turn on my recording equipment to ask a few well considered questions. 

The label, "psychic" comes with all kinds of connotations ranging from incredible nutbag or delusionally self-important to wise, mystical, and all-seeing. I am not now, nor have I ever been, any of those things. I'm just someone who receives a little information here and there that I use to help me in my afterlife research.

Labels are powerful because we often buy into them completely. Humans naturally seek to understand the world in which we live, and applying labels is a way of categorizing people, places, things, and events into recognizable patterns. Unfortunately, complete acceptance of such labels also can be ultimately limiting to both the labeler and the labelee. 

Quite often, you hear this concept discussed in the realm of child psychology. When you quickly label a child - whether it is with a "condition" such as ADHD or with a personality trait such as "shy," the child frequently internalizes that label. It becomes a permanent part of his or her identity. Accepting such labels willingly, however, limits a child's choices, behaviors, and self-perception as he or she tries to fit into the narrow scope such labels imply. Behaviors and choices also take on new significance when a the child views it through the filter of whatever labels others have applied. Ascribing labels to children can alter the course of a child's life, both because of the child's self-perception and because of the expectations of others who buy into such labels.

I think the same thing happens when we are adults. While we may be more likely to resist labels, once we accept them for ourselves we may feel an ego-driven need to behave consistently within the constraints of that version of self-identity. Thus the label psychic messed me up for a while. With it came a pressure to perform - a sense that if I actually allowed myself to be identified as a "psychic medium," then I must meet a certain standard of performance in order to live up to that label. 

The full spectrum of abilities lies in each human being on the planet. Each of us has inside of us the capacity to perform tremendous feats. We are far more powerful than anyone can imagine. However, we are quick to supply labels in our drive to understand and explain ourselves. Labeling is part of developing a sense of self-identity. Unfortunately, even the most positive of labels ultimately can become self-limiting or even destructive as we seek to confirm what we already know of who we are.

In a quirk of human ego, everyone wants to feel special. We use labels to confer a sense of specialness onto ourselves and others. We use them as a way to communicate how unique and different we are from the crowd around us. It backfires, though. Those labels don't make us unique or interesting. They serve as a boundary to self-identity and self-achievement.

Part of the dichotomy of being human is this: everyone is special and no one is special. One particular example of this springs vividly to mind. My husband and I were explaining to my then five-year-old stepson that he needed to treat others the way he wanted to be treated.

"No, I don't," he told us. "People need to treat me better, and I can treat everyone else the way I want."

Needless to say, Jim and I were both a bit surprised at this revelation. 

"Why do you think that?" I asked.

"Because my mom told me I'm a very special boy."

Imagine his shock when we explained to him that everyone was special in some way. That's a lot of cognitive dissonance for a very literal five-year-old boy to process.

Still, it's true. Everyone is special. If everyone is special, however, doesn't it follow that no one is?

It only matters - our relative level of specialness - when we use others as our yardstick. If we don't compare ourselves to others and only seek to realize our full potential and power, then we can be just as darn special as we want and it will never bother us that everyone else also has their own unique brand of specialness.

Which brings me back to being psychic. I'm certainly not the only psychic medium in the world. Actually, I would imagine there nearly 7 billion people just like me on this planet alone. Some have long accepted the label of psychic and use those abilities on a daily basis. Many may be uncomfortable with the connotations and prefer to ignore that aspect of themselves. Others, like me, are more interested in the potential than the label and are therefore happy to keep exploring it without needing to measure, label, or contain it.

I believe everyone has psychic abilities and how well yours work for you depends totally on your willingness to rise above ego, self-concept, and expectations to allow them to manifest in your life. Every human on this planet is so much more than he or she could possibly imagine. So why use labels to limit just how amazing you are? Instead, follow your instincts in the moment without a thought to the labels you or others have chosen for you. Ignore the little voice that nibbles at the back of your mind and tune in to the vibrations around you. You may be surprised to learn just how much "psychic" information you regularly receive.