THE MAN (OR WOMAN) IN THE MIRROR

This week is all about areas that affect our lives in a major way. Today we are going to talk about the person looking back at us in the mirror. It is time to give them a fresh look. When you see yourself in the mirror, what do you see? More importantly, how did you come to that opinion? If you were asked to describe yourself, what would you say? What if you could change that description? Even change parts of you that you may think could never be changed?

It is amazing when I hear people tell me “I am a procrastinator.” or “I am just not a happy person.” My first question is “Really? When did you decide that?” They will either give me one of those looks people give you when you ask thought provoking questions they do not expect, or I receive answers that include the following, “I didn’t decide, that is just who I am.” “I don’t know I have always been that way.” Sometimes an especially introspective individual will share with me some event from their childhood, or maybe their last relationship that prompted this belief. I listen carefully and calmly tell them, “Actually you did choose to be that way and you did so this morning.” Again, more crazy looks.

Here is the uncomfortable truth a lot of us do not like to consider. We choose daily who we are. If you are a person who is always running late, when could you decide to change that? If you are a person who was hurt by an uncaring person in your last relationship, when can you begin to deal with and heal from those experiences? The answer is right now. Let me assure you, I am not trying to make light of anything you have been through. I know a lot of you have been through very painful experiences. Allowing them to continue to hurt you, or to force you to live your life stunted, not experiencing the fullness of joy and love that is available to you is a choice we must make, consciously or unconsciously, every morning when we wake up. It may take seeking professional help or just reaching a point where you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, but you are the one who must choose who looks back at you in the morning.

Some of us have even allowed others to tell us who we are. Les Brown, one of my favorite authors and motivational speakers was told throughout his childhood he was educable mental retarded. It took an embarrassing moment of having to tell the teacher he was too ‘dumb’ to solve a problem on the chalkboard to change his life. What the teacher told him not only changed his life, but can change ours as well. The teacher walked around the desk, looked right into his eyes and said, “Never let someone else’s opinion of you become your reality.” Read that statement a few times. You may even want to print it out and hang it somewhere.

A lot of us were told by well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) teachers, parents and others growing up that we were not so good at this, or never will amount to that. I personally recall my senior year in high school my English teacher telling me, “I hope to God you never have a career in writing.” I have a website with about 800 posts and am about to publish my second book. More importantly, I have touched the lives of countless of people and will reach even more in the future. What if I listened to that teacher, and several classmates I might add, what would have happened? I never would have attempted to set up a website. I never would have believed I could write a book let alone more than one. All the lives I have helped? I never would have been able to reach them. Just thinking of that gives me a sadness in my heart.

Here is what I suggest. Take some quality time by yourself and think about who you would wish to be. Write down the ideas you come up with. It is vital you do NOT consider your current situation when coming up with this list. If I had done so back in my senior year, becoming a best-selling author and speaker would have never made the list. When you come up with your list take a good hard look at it. Then, take a look at that person in the mirror. Read this list to yourself every morning when you wake up and every evening before you go to bed.

Next time you reach for that twinkie, think of your list. If ‘I am a healthy vibrant individual’ is on there, you might want to give that a second thought. If you choose to eat that twinkie, remember you have made that decision. If you need help, seek help. Remember you and only you should define the kind of person you wish to be. It is time to take control of the person we see in the mirror. Tomorrow we look at another way in which we can gain leverage on ourselves and help move us in the direction we are wishing to go.

BE YOURSELF

Here is a great reminder for the week ahead. Whatever you are, be a good one. We are so obsessed with being thinner, stronger, wealthier, or more popular we lose sight of something very special – us! There is nobody who is put together just the same way you are. Sure, you may desire some of the things we mentioned above, but if we all walked around with what we feel is the perfect ideal, life would be pretty boring.

Here is another wonderful thing to consider. Quite often, what we like least about ourselves can be what someone else likes the most. There are times when I am feeling so unattractive and I find my lady staring at me and then she says “I was just thinking how handsome you are.” I may shake my head in disbelief but it really feels good.

So, what about things we do? Same holds true here. I recall when writing my book A Happy Life for Busy People it took me forever to decide what to put in, and what to keep out. When it was published there were certain things I was thrilled with and certain things I thought people would just find silly, or not enjoy. Here is what happens, often things I write that I may not think are my best work tend to touch the most people and have the greatest impact. I have learned to just be myself and share what I am feeling.

Being genuine is something you just can’t fake. Let that sink in for a moment. Think about receiving compliments. If someone is complimenting you just to gain favor with you or because they feel obligated to do so, you can tell. If someone is genuine in their praise you can tell and it feels really good.

What about all the faults you have? Like a quick temper? Maybe you are not as organized as you would like? Faults provide two important things. First, they allow others to often feel more comfortable around you. Knowing the person they are around is not perfect can often help people feel more comfortable about their own faults and opening up to you. Second, they give you a chance to show you are working on improving part of your life. If you read a blog like this one, I can only imagine you are looking to constantly improve yourself, even the things you are good at.

The takeaway from today’s post is this – fall in love with yourself. Sure there are things you can always work on. We all have those, embrace them. Become ‘constructively discontent’. Use anything you think you could improve on as motivation. Remember, it is what makes you, well…you. If there is one thing that nobody can do better than you it is being yourself. Now I just have to figure why the woman in the picture has the head of a goat.

FIRST SECRET TO HAPPINESS…

“To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness”

-Robert Morely

When facing any challenge from a new job to trying to live a more amazing life, why are we so quick to be hard on ourselves?  I remember training some people at the Post Office who picked things up at a slower pace than the rest of us and I was always very encouraging.  When I was first learning, however, I recall being upset with myself for every little mistake.  Now if it was somebody else and they did it, I would remind them that we all make mistakes and the important thing is to keep trying. Keep going towards your goal.  So why are we so hard on ourselves? It has been said we are always hardest on those closest to us, and if that statement holds true I suppose it would make sense that we are our own worst critics.  I have a friend who is working on getting back in shape and she recently missed going to the gym for three whole days.  I heard her say things like “It’s no use, I’ll never get back in shape” and “why can’t I just stick with things?”. We share a mutual friend who is also trying to live a healthier lifestyle and I asked her what she would say if she heard her saying the same thing.  After a long pause she looked at me and yelled “It’s not the same!” I kind of chuckled, which really did not help the situation any, but then I told her “give yourself a break” and told her to encourage herself and give herself a little pep talk.  “Give myself a pep talk? That sounds silly” was her reply.  I asked her if it was any crazier then yelling at yourself.  She thought for a minute and then started laughing. “I guess not, maybe you’re right” she said. Ok, so after that we did have an ice cream cone, but she assured herself that was ok, and she was recommitted to her fitness routine.

Now I am not saying it is not constructive to hold yourself responsible for failing to do something you have set out to do.  Just don’t continue to beat yourself up over it.  This week let us treat ourselves like we would treat our best friends.  After all, we are stuck with ourselves for the rest of our lives, we might as well be friends.  You wouldn’t continue to stay with someone who yelled and criticized you every day, would you? No, you would tell them to get lost, you don’t deserve to be treated that way. So next time your inner critic comes calling, tell them the same thing. Say to yourself “I deserve to be treated better than this” because you are amazing and you do! Enjoy your week my friends!