I recently read a book called My Life as a Guinea Pig by A.J. Jacobs. One of the observations he made in his marriage was the negative effect of labels. He mentioned that it seems like you do something clumsy a couple times and suddenly you're known as the 'clumsy one'. Once you have that label you're always the 'clumsy one', and then you start to live up to that label. I mean why be more careful if people don't expect you to be careful? That same principle could be applied to other things. In marriages you often see the 'responsible one', the 'one that's good with money', the 'one who's always late', the 'one that disciplines the kids'.
The danger of labels is that we can start to believe the labels others have put on us or the labels we put on others. It seems so obvious to me when I hear people talk about their parents in a negative light. Usually it's because their parents have labeled them in a way that they don't apprecate. “You're so forgetful”, “you never finish what you start”, “you're not good with confrontation”, all of which could be totally true but how does that make the labeled person feel about themselves?
I know that it's important to be aware of and recognize our faults; that way we can begin the process of changing and improving ourselves. But when it comes to long term things, things that we've been aware of for years, things we've struggled a lifetime to overcome, a label ceases to be a reminder of improvement and simply becomes our identity. If we label our family members and friends, let them be good labels because a negative label only shows our lack of confidence in their ability to change. And if they don't have our confidence then can we even consider ourselves a true friend or family member?