Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Let's Play a Game

Pull out your favorite writing utensil, your phone or tablet, a pen and a piece of paper.  Either imagine or remember the last time you tried to uplift a friend who was down.  Maybe he/she was getting a divorce or had a death in the family.  Maybe the person just got fired or wrecked their car.  What did you say?  Maybe you said, "No worries.  Everything always works out for you."  Or a simple "I love you."  Write down all of the sentences you can think of or remember.

This next part is going to involve a bit of honesty.  You don't have to be honest with me, but you do need to be honest with you.

Take your list to the bathroom or whatever room has the largest mirror in it.  Look yourself directly in the eye and tell yourself all of the sentences.

Could you do it?  Did you laugh, feel silly and walk away?  Or did you rush through the sentences, emotionlessly reading them, without ever really meeting your own gaze in the mirror?

I really can't remember when it was I realized I could not meet my own gaze in the mirror.  Oh sure, I could look at my face.  Brush my teeth or hair.  Put moisturizer or mascara on.  Even then, I would survey what I was seeing critically.  It was like I was constantly looking at someone of whom I ever so slightly did not approve.  The only time I would catch a glimpse of my own smile was when I happened to be laughing when I entered the room.

The discomfort I found trying to look myself in the eye was not like trying to avoid seeing a wrecked car on the side of the road or the latest gruesome death on The Game of Thrones.  It was closer to that of a child who knows he/she has misbehaved and is reluctant to see the disappointment in mom's eyes.  I found it a bit disturbing and fascinating.  Think about it.  How many years do you spend in the company of your parents?  Your children?  Your spouse?  The only person who will be with you from the beginning to the end is you.  And you can't look yourself in the eye?

There is a power in observing yourself in a detached way as if you were simply a witness.  There is a scientific term called "The Observer Effect" which refers to the changes that the act of observation will make upon the observed.  I'd like to humbly suggest that being able to observe yourself in a kind and loving manner will cause dozens of tiny, infinitesimal changes in your outlook and life which, like tiny stones tossed at the top of a hill, may be much larger and have much greater momentum somewhere near the bottom.

Do you have a best friend?  A person who just "gets you?"  Who could possibly "get you" more than you?  That's where I started.  I pictured myself as my own sidekick.  My own best friend who had only the best intentions and love in her heart.  What did I say?  I ad-libbed and I recommend you do the same.  That's because life is too fluid for a script.  Even talking to yourself, you can't anticipate just what you may need to say.  Beyond that, I basically told the truth.  I acknowledged feeling silly talking to myself in the mirror.  I apologized to myself for all of the disappointments in my life.  I cried a little.  In the end I told myself all of the comforting things I had ever wanted to hear from someone else.

It will be ok.  Everything will be ok.  Everything always works out for you.   I'm right here.  You are right here in this moment.  There is nothing in this moment that can hurt you.  I am sorry I neglected you.  I won't do that again.  I love you.  I will always love you.

Over time, my conversations with myself became less like a parent soothing a disappointed child and more like an admirer or fan.  

Wow!  What a great day!  You did things today you never realized you could do!  You are unstoppable!  There is just no stopping you now!  You are on FIRE!  

Pretty silly huh?  Just another pointless self-help, waste-of-time game.  

Except a funny thing happened.  Along the way it became easy to look myself in the eye.  I not only began seeing my own smile in the mirror, rather than being the set expression one sets knowing his/her picture is being taken, it is the natural, easy shapes a mouth makes when it can barely resist bursting out into laughter.  

Like I said, it will take a little bit of honesty.  Only you know what your experience is when you look in the mirror.  If it is anything less than, "Look at you.  You ROCK!"  You might want to have a heart to heart with the one person who will truly always ever be there for you.  It might just be the start of a  surprising, but beautiful, friendship.  

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