What do you see in the mirror?

posted in: CYJ Blog, Lifeskills, Reflection

(Best of Celebrating Your Journey – November 10, 2008)

To all my readers: With 2019, the 14th year of my Celebrating Your Journey blog articles, “From the Heart” byline, I will be offering the “Best of the Best” articles you found helpful through the years. Many thanks to everyone who have given input and followed along w/ each month’s lifeskill—Relationships/Core Values, Time Mgt, Career/Money Mgt, Recordkeeping, Possessions, Housekeeping, Wellness, Meals, Childcare, Recreation/ Entertainment, Reflection, and Celebration. For my new readers, may these lifeskill articles offer you encouragement, insight, and commitment to seek, reach, and achieve your life dreams and goals in synergy.

Although you men may not spend as much time in front of the mirror as us women, I bet you still check yourself out every once in a while, right? And what thoughts come up when you do reflect on your reflection? Do you tell yourself, “Man, are you looking good!” Or is it more like, “Ug, where in the world did that stomach come from?!”

Well, don’t think you’re the only one that probably avoids that glance in the bathroom mirror, particularly in the morning. It seems the older we get, the more we just as soon not have any mirrors around. Yet, don’t we women just have to give a glance when passing a store window to make sure we look ok?

Professional dancer Tonya Hagey has stared at one often enough to know that the relationship between a woman and a mirror can be agitating. Just imagine a group of women wearing nothing but tights and leotards in a room surrounded with unforgiving mirrors. “You can almost hear the groans and comparing stares! This is a dancer’s life, and sometimes her worst nightmare—a constant battle between constructive critiques and demoralizing taunts.” Hagey shares mirror reflections in her article, Mirror, Mirror, Learning to love what I see, “As a dancer myself, I know firsthand how that reflective glass can act as both a trusted friend and a deceptive enemy. I experience times in the rehearsal studio when my reflection seems to mock my every move, my every curve. Yet, other moments when I look in the mirror I am filled with appreciation and awe for the way my body stretches and bends and carves out space.”

Most of us may not have a dancer’s body like Hagey’s, but her discoveries about herself in the mirror holds true as we all dance through life. I offer my paraphrased summary for us all:

  • The mirror acts as a necessary tool, providing feedback on alignment and positions. But dancing is elevated to a new level when the dancer is able to see through the mirror, past the two-dimensional external guide, and into the multi-dimensional self—your true self where you become comfortable in your own skin.
  • When we don’t love ourselves, those around us tend to lose respect for us, which in turn causes us to lose respect for ourselves in a downward spiraling cycle of self-hate, taking on more so-called “opportunities” that leave less and less time to care of your body, mind, and soul. You lose when you are constantly eating on the run, not getting enough sleep and dancing (working) long hours, with a health condition that only is getting worse. You then neglect important relationships and never have time to read, write or pray. You may even begin to resent dancing in life, one of the greatest joys in your life—finally resenting yourself—exhausted, unhappy, out of control, and retreating from life.
  • Get past the negative perspective of self and come to accept and love your vehicle, your body, and dance from the inside out. You will witness and experience great power, beauty and freedom in this discovery.
  • An essential part of the journey is to set protective boundaries for your fragile self-esteem—choosing only those important relationships that support your rediscovery and re-investment in your life, recognizing their integral role in helping you regain a healthy, whole lifestyle—nourishing, even pampering, your body, mind, and soul.
  • You make a priority to challenge your mind, and to carve out time for your soul to grow and body to regain health and wellness through
    • good nutrition and exercise, which has a profound impact on your mental and emotional health as well.
    • candlelit baths as often as needed.
    • wearing clothes that make you feel fabulous!
    • visiting museums; reading good books; taking fitness classes and going for long walks.
    • writing in a journal.
    • listening to your favorite pieces of music.
    • buying yourself flowers.
    • enrolling in a poetry course at a local college.
  • We are so much more than our outward appearance (no matter how much our outrageous cultural ideals place unrealistic and unhealthy expectations on us).
  • We need to recognize and appreciate our many dimensions, giving equal attention to our intellect, our spirit, and our physical well-being. We are unique and have permission to love ourselves.
  • You are more than what you do, more than what you own, or where you live. Your life is more of just accepting and “being” you rather than any “doing.”
  • Dancing through life is also not all about you. On this journey, however, you will find that loving yourself becomes self-centered and narcissistic when it stagnates within you. Loving your whole being results in a healthy love for others around you. It becomes a life flow, a cycle that feeds you and pours out to nurture those surrounding you. And that is the essence of real beauty.
  • When we are looking for peace, there is a way to balance your life. No one can be perfect or have a perfect life. Yet, we all have the opportunity to experience perfect peace through a vibrant faith in God. For Tonya, her peace rests in her personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

So next time you meet your image in the mirror, reflect on what lies beyond that reflection awaiting you—“the potential for power, love and freedom.” And remember, your own dance in life is yours to choose. Enjoy your journey of discovery.