We don’t always like what we see, but it gives us the opportunity to make changes.
There is an old adage that goes like this: “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the greatest of them all?” Have you ever heard it before? If you did, what picture comes to your mind?
For me, it’s finding out things about myself that I either don’t want to know, or, that I know is there and don’t want to be reminded of. It’s too painful to look at.
It might be a blemish, bruise, permanent scar or even more painful, those haunting eyes.
As a therapist, I remember working with a client whose self-esteem was shattered. She said to me, that she hated looking in the mirror because of what she saw.
She was a very attractive lady, which, puzzled me even more, hearing her say those words. Over time, I learned more about her and discovered that it wasn’t her physical face she hated, but the pain of choices she had made that were not good ones.
She had to now live with the memories. When she looked at herself, she felt ashamed, stupid and sad. Her life wasn’t going as she had hoped for.
I was able to help her look in the mirror and speak words to herself that were so different than when we first started working together.
She was more comfortable looking out the window at other people’s lives than she did looking at her own.
Why is this so?
Is she the only one? I don’t think so.
I know that even though I’ve not had such strong emotions of hating what I saw when I looked in the mirror, there were times I didn’t like what I saw. I was reminded of things that needed to be “fixed” and I either didn’t know how to or want to admit it. These were flaws I wished weren’t there.
Here are 3 reasons why I believe it’s easier to look out the window than in the mirror.
The mirror shows us what we don’t want to see or be reminded of
Weakness. Failure. Loser. These are some of the words that fill our heads when we look in the mirror. They are highly amplified especially if an event recently occurred, where you’re emotions are running high.
A failed marriage. A failed business. A failed exam.
Again, even though these are events that happened in our lives, it doesn’t prevent us from labeling ourselves a failure or at the very least, feel that way.
When you didn’t stand up to your family on behalf of your spouse and you knew it, you feel like a weak specimen for a man.
You are afraid of getting in the middle of your family and your spouse, so you take the neutral zone. Your wife is mad at you and has distanced herself because you didn’t stand up for her. She now wonders if you ever will.
You now look in the mirror and scream at yourself because you feel like a wimp. A loser. And your wife has not held back from telling you how much of a loser and wimp you are.
Maybe it’s the scar from a fight that you had and lost. Maybe it’s those eyes that everyone tells you how they look like your mom or dad, people you want to forget or is still grieving over.
The mirror becomes one of the last things you want to look at because of these reminders. You would rather look elsewhere.
The window shows us what we want to see and / or become
Looking out of the “window” is so much better. At least I won’t see my flaws so quickly or be reminded of what I am or what I’m not.
You can look at the “world” as it passes by, living your life through the people you see. The confidence in their walk. The beautiful car they drive. The body that’s chiseled from the rock. All these and more, makes it more interesting and appealing. It becomes your release valve allowing you to escape your world for a few minutes or a few hours.
Obviously, these could add to your pain because of the comparison and envy trap.
However, because of the immediate benefits, it is worth it. Anything but the mirror.
The mirror makes me responsible
One thing the mirror will always do is show you what’s out of place and need fixing. You trust the mirror to help you become presentable to the world that you will be facing.
The mirror only provides information. It doesn’t change anything. It only points out what it sees.
You can either do something about what it shows you or ignore it. If you ignore it, you may be sorry you did. If you attend to what it shows you, you may be glad you did.
You may not always like what you see looking out the mirror, but it will never lead you astray. Looking out the window could, as you try to become what you’re not and fix what’s not really there.
Which of these reasons resonated with you the most and what else would you add? I would love to hear your perspective.
Photo: Getty Images