Are you up for a game?
(Don't cheat and read the whole article first.)
(Hey, I told you no cheating!)
Yes, right now, get up. Get out of your seat. Stretch. Go the bathroom. Look in the mirror. Come back with a list of what you saw.
So, what did you see?
Someone pretty? Handsome? Needs a chin tuck? Needs a nose job? Needs to lose 10 pounds? Gain 10 pounds? Someone who desperately needs a vacation? Someone smart? Dumb? Someone who's just landed a big client/deal/role/job? Someone who just got fired? Is a failure? Is lonely? Is vaguely unsatisfied but doesn't know why? Is awesome in too many ways to count?
Who's in the mirror?
If you said anything other than the physical characteristics of your face and body, I assert you didn't actually see what's in the mirror. Let's try again.
Take your iPhone, iPad, Android, or laptop -- whatever you're reading this article on -- into the bathroom with you. It's not weird. I promise. Here, I'll do it with you.
Walking... walking... walking... opening the door... opening another door -- Hi Husband Tony! -- entering the bathroom... turning on the light... closing the door.
Okay. What's in the mirror?
If I play the game the way you probably did, I see: a woman on the verge of middle age who needs to lose more weight than she cares to mention, with bags under her eyes because her toddler got her up at 6 a.m., hair in a sloppy bun because there's never enough time in the morning, and a woman in dire need of some blush.
What is actually reflected in the mirror: long black hair pulled back into a bun, bangs clipped with a pink child's barrette, tan face, dark brown eyes, a straight nose, high cheekbones, full lips, straight teeth, tiny moles on the right side of my mouth, a sleeveless purple top that's made of a cotton blend that hugs my figure.
Do you get the difference?
There are the facts of who you are and then there are the interpretations of who you are. And more often than not, we believe the interpretation to be fact. Here's the thing: Believing an interpretation as fact is a lose-lose situation, right? You have a negative interpretation that causes anxiety because it's almost always a failure to meet an impossible standard, or you have a positive interpretation that can't possibly last -- you're just not that lucky/wealthy/good enough to sustain it.
If you are present only to what is reflected in the mirror -- not the interpretation -- how does your thinking change?
I'm going to guess that you're feeling uncertain, nervous, or feeling as if you've played the game wrong because there is no interpretation. There is just what is, and what is doesn't have opinions about itself.
So, what now? Can -- should -- a person live life without any interpretations at all?
Well... I assert that this is not the question to ask. Real change doesn't happen in opposition -- it happens in awareness. What might happen if you became aware of your interpretations of your life? What would life look like if you notice what is as opposed to what you imagine? What might you lose if you recognize your interpretations for what they are? What might you gain?
What becomes possible if this silly game you played because I told you to is taken out of your bathroom and brought into your world?
I invite you to consider the possibility.
For more by Christine Sachs, click here.
For more on emotional wellness, click here.