Labeling one's surroundings is a strongly rooted habit-
we subconsciously organize our environment into categories which help us "survive."
From a survivalist viewpoint, this tendency is extremely helpful-
we must label that area of the forest as dangerous, the members of a neighboring tribe as friendly or lethal, and that body of water as impure.
Arriving at quick conclusions when facing crucial survival situations is useful and promotes our well-being, but when that same tendency is practiced in a totally nonthreatening environment (e.g. our social lives), we actually hinder the flow of our happiness.
How We Organize the People Around Us
Most of us constantly form observations about others within the first few seconds of meeting them.
Their appearance, body language, and general "vibe" seem to communicate to us their personalities.
This alone, in its "pure" act, is a very harmless exercise. There is nothing wrong with deducing a person's emotions, attitude, and mood through what they subconsciously and consciously communicate.
We can use our empathy to tell if a person is happy, tired, sad, grumpy, confident, insecure, and what not. Still, this observation, even when done in a totally neutral manner, can only go so far as to describe a person in the moment one is observing them.
One can not wear the signs of their past unless they are living their past as a habit.
Although helpful when using empathy in order to connect with others, observing others easily and frequently goes awry. Instead of observing others in order to relate to them, we form opinions that separate us from others.
Projecting Onto Others and Cloudy Judgement
Once we stop observing others with a clear mind and open heart, we create opinions based on judgement and separation from that person.
When we see someone who looks a certain way we do not like, we react emotionally- usually with a subtle sense of annoyance or disgust, because that person does not fit the expectations we hold. We can also attribute this undesired appearance to a personality trait or lifestyle we disapprove of.
Someone who sees another dressed in revealing clothes and lots of makeup might react negatively and consider the person cheap, vain, or trashy because they do not look the way they're comfortable with. Once these almost instantaneous opinions form, they harbor extremely negative emotions, thoughts, and behavior towards others.
The person doing the judging is separating him or herself from the other person- isolating themselves from a person who seems to possess traits they do not like. In reality, those very traits are usually possessed by the person doing the judging. This projection of undesired traits onto others causes a majority of the problems within social interactions.
This can also happen with seemingly "positive" reactions to people. Someone might see traits that they feel they do not have or they deeply admire about themselves in another and rate the person highly. The person doing the rating is attached to these traits and attaches to people who possess these traits. These judgments can lead to obsession. This can also lead a person into regarding the other so highly that they lose respect for themselves and give up their power- like an imbalanced relationship where one is "better" or "more desirable" than the other.
Projections are created when one does not accept themselves completely, when one's limiting beliefs cause them to disown traits and qualities they possess or have the potential to cultivate, and when depends on their surroundings to define themselves.
How to Stop Projecting Labels Onto Others
If one wants to stop projecting onto others, one most accept themselves fully and truthfully evaluate themselves in a clear-minded manner.
One must accept and bring up the things about them they are uncomfortable with. One has to work through these issues and let go of limiting beliefs in order to find total self acceptance.
In order to let go of limiting beliefs, one has to stop projecting fears onto him or herself. Usually, these fears come from the past or present. One can be so caught up on the past that they forget the power in the present, or one can be so anxious about the future that they do not process the feelings and emotions they are presently experiencing.
When one simply lets go of the past and future and lives in the moment, the nagging script of past mistakes and expectations of the future subside and one can tune into the possibilities of the present. One can be clear in the present. Only in the present can one avoid being defined by their past actions and future plans.
One must also practice maintaining an open heart towards themselves and towards others. When one acts from their heart, they do not project expectations onto others. Instead, one can act from a place of genuine care and understanding for those around him or her.
Humans are social creatures, and happiness can not come from isolating one's self from the rest of the population due to illusory beliefs and misconstrued view points.
Connecting with others on a blank slate allows happiness and well-being to flow for both parties.