“Mirror, Mirror on the Wall” 6/12

mirrors and self-imageJune 2012

Hair?
Face?
Clothing?
Backside?

What do you look at, and what do you see when you look in the mirror?

• Do you have to be the fairest of them all?
• Or maybe as fair as your much younger self?
• Do you zoom-in to your weakness, or to your best asset?
• Do you avoid looking at what’s below your neck?
• Most importantly, what do you tell yourself about what you see?

We give a lot of power to our reflection, don’t we? It’s not unlike daily weighing, that for some people, determines if today is a good day or a bad day – a day for eating or starving, reward or punishment. That’s a tough way to live.

Due to distance, I rarely meet my clients face-to-face. They are almost all women. They come in all personalities, sizes and ages. It’s all the same to me. They’re people.

For the purposes of this discussion, allow me to borrow from another fairy tale and describe two, common client profiles as two variations of Sleeping Beauty.

This first profile of clients are usually in their 20s and are totally consumed by 10-30 pounds of excess weight. They think, “If I can just get rid of ___ pounds, THEN I will find love, joy, belonging, self-acceptance . . .” They often live their life in a holding pattern for when they are slim enough.

This Sleeping Beauty is asleep when it comes to her beauty and good fortune.

How women see themselves often has nothing to do with how they look or how much they actually weigh. In fact, you would think these young Sleeping Beauties have very serious weight problems if you heard them talk. I’m more concerned about their self-image.

If you’re not happy with yourself now, the weight loss won’t make a difference for any length of time. Your dissatisfaction will shift to another aspect of your self. Of course a certain amount of dissatisfaction is necessary to create change. But there’s a tipping point where it becomes unhealthy.

Self-acceptance is the first step for weight loss. It’s not the result.

One of the best ways to set up a lifetime of struggling with food, yoyo dieting and weight cycling is to obsess about your weight. I’m not saying that you should disregard an extra 20 – 30 pounds. It’s something. It’s just not everything. How you view yourself and your weight will influence your level of happiness and your ability to lose the weight.

There is another form of Sleeping Beauty. She doesn’t see her reflection at all, and then one day she’s blind-sided by a photograph or other wake-up call. “How did I get to be so big?” The short answer is by being asleep and not reading the signs, by not paying attention to the 30, 50, 100 pounds. (Of course I’m simplifying it.)

The solution then, (simplified) is to find the balance in self-improvement – that is not obsession or denial. It’s where you are always aware of your actions and the consequences and are totally honest with yourself about both. Avoiding the truth could put you into a long, painful and unnecessary sleeping pattern. What a sad tale that would be.

So, WAKE UP Princess! Stop waiting for your Prince, or the mirror, to tell you you’re beautiful. The people who care about you, and who are worth caring about, look beyond your surface, while that’s all that the mirror reflects.

Case in point: in Robert Munsch’s Paper Bag Princess, Prince Ronald didn’t see Princess Elizabeth for the brilliant and courageous hero she was. Instead, he told her to clean herself up. She told him to stick it.

The End

What story works for you?