The tyranny of the blank page is second only to the tyranny of a mirror. At least for me it is. Having been born with a facial deformity, I tend to not spend all that much time in front of mirrors, outside of my usual morning routine. All mirrors have ever done for me is reflect the indisputable evidence of my birth defect.
Just the Facts, Ma’am..
Breaking it down, my image is simply a collection of facts. I have hazel eyes and brown hair. I have olive skin and dark brown eyebrows. My nose is uneven on both sides and flat on top. My upper lip dips down on one side, and my bottom lip is full and pouty. I have a smile that has been shaped through years of orthodontia, surgeries, and false teeth.
These are the facts of my face. The mirror does nothing but reflect what is in front of it. So, where does my problem with what I see come from? It has to do with the THOUGHTS I THINK about what I am seeing.
Those Facts Are Defintely Not Rose Colored..
My hair is brown, but I choose to color it because my hair is going grey faster than I like to admit. My dark brown eyebrows are uneven because the two sides of my nose are not shaped the same, so the point of reference for keeping them maintained is unequal. I have always liked my smile because when I do, it makes the downward slope of my upper lip less noticeable.
Are these the same facts as listed before? Technically yes, but they are colored by how I THINK about them. These colored thoughts then lead me to develop feelings about how I look. I feel annoyed about the fact that my eyebrows are unequal because my nose is uneven. When I am not smiling, I feel ashamed that my upper lip slopes down severely on one side. I feel vulnerable when I have to have orthodontia work well into my 40’s because I do not have my own teeth at the front of my mouth.
These feelings lead me to take action by avoiding mirrors. I avoid being on camera if not completely prepared. Or not participating in events because I might have to speak on camera and my pronunciation of some words can be difficult to hear clearly in recordings.
Think Feel Act
A mirror is an inanimate object. It simply reflects what is in front of it and is incapable of causing pain. But it has been the source of pain and self-doubt for me for as long as I can remember. The reason? It is not the mirror. The pain is self-inflicted. Self-inflicted by the THOUGHTS I THINK that lead to the EMOTIONS I FEEL when I look at my reflection.
So, what broke me out of the pattern of self-doubt? Learning about the Think Feel Act Cycle. Essentially it is the process by which our thoughts create our feelings, and therefore lead to the actions we take.
That is a clunky way of summing up the cycle, but if you want to learn more, listen to the Take A Break Podcast by Rachel Hart. She explains the Think Feel Act Cycle in such a way that when I heard it for the first time, I actually said out loud “Holy Crap!”.
A lightbulb went on for me and changed my approach entirely to my own personal development. Her show is built for helping people take a break from drinking, but the discussions are applicable to every aspect of life. It is absolutely wonderful, and I highly recommend it. Here is the link to an episode devoted entirely to the Think Feel Act Cycle.
Self-Reflect, not Self-Inflict
So what do I see when I look in the mirror now? The facts of my face are still the same, but now my thoughts are different. Yes, I have dark eyebrows that are not equidistant due to the uneven shape of my nose, but you know what those dark eyebrows do? They set off my hazel eyes that I inherited from my father. Yes, my top lip droops down on one side, but when I laugh and smile you can’t even tell. And you know what? I love laughing and smiling. I have a great laugh and a nice smile. Breaking the pattern of self-inflicted pain from the thougths I was choosing to think about myself has made a huge impact on maintaining my self-confidence.
I hope you can take some time and examine some of the thoughts you have when something has you feeling down about yourself or some aspect of your life. The thoughts we think influence EVERYTHING we experience in our lives and doing the hard work of recognizing those thoughts will pay dividends. Knowledge is power, and it can be truly eye opening when you are able to get down to the bottom of WHY you are feeling down, or lacking self-confidence. Get those thoughts down on paper and see for yourself. Do the work. It will be worth it. Take it from the girl who used to do everything possible to avoid speaking on camera. I just did my first ever Facebook live video this past week and lived to tell the tale!
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