A new client I saw this week triggered the theme for this post. She prefaced her extraordinary story with I hope you don’t think I’m a mad woman. So I was expecting someone who might fit this physical, mental and emotional profile – at least in part.
The person who emerged during the course of our first session was in fact the complete reverse—resilient, competent, brutally honest, and articulate. She has repeatedly faced situations that would have crippled a lesser mortal—without a shred of self pity, and has an insatiable hunger for learning how to handle her life better.
The fact that she’s in a dead end job where she is treated disrespectfully was the clue. You see, when she looks in the mirror, she doesn’t see the person I can see. She sees a self that’s been filtered through a distorted lens. And so it is with so many of us.
You look at yourself in a mirror at least once a day, right? What sort of person do you see? How do you feel about that person, and how do you talk to him or her?
How well do you really know that person whose reflection looks back at you every day of your life?
Do you focus only on the external image? How often when you’re looking in that mirror do you take a moment to celebrate all you’ve learned, experienced, overcome, achieved and become? How often do you encourage and pin bravery medals on yourself? How often are you overwhelmed by respect and admiration for this extraordinary and unique person that is you? I’m willing to bet it’s rarely if ever.
Ignoring, taking for granted or thinking critical thoughts about the person you live with 24/7 your entire life doesn’t make any sense, does it? How would diminishing your most influential team member motivate you, and make you feel confident?
I remember when my daughter Michelle was at nursery school, the teacher would draw an outline of the kids and ask them to paint the color in. They tried everything to get that gorgeous girl of mine to paint inside the lines, but she wasn’t having any of it. She splashed the paint on – large and bright and bold, and mixed her colors with abandon all over the page. I approved wholeheartedly!
So if I asked you to paint a self portrait of yourself now, what would that picture look like?
Regardless of your artistic ability would it be an unremarkable little stick figure in bland colors, standing still – or a big, bold, brightly colored being dancing across the page?
My six year old grandson won Most Talented Player at football camp recently. When his Dad took him to the shops later he insisted on taking his trophies with him. There he was holding them high, smiling like he was about to burst with well earned pride. It didn’t occur to him for a moment that he shouldn’t brag about his win. It didn’t occur to him for a minute that others wouldn’t be impressed by his achievement or that the shop was an inappropriate place to show off his hard earned bling. Would you do this?
Why is it that in adulthood it becomes more important what others feel about us than what we feel about ourselves? Why is it that our self talk (a stream of powerful affirmations) so often focuses on what we don’t know, where we’re falling short, what we haven’t achieved, or how overwhelming our problems are? Would you talk to your child, the way you talk to yourself?
When we convince ourselves we’re small—we act small.
Think of it this way, if you were paying for a public relations campaign, would you expect them to focus on your or your company’s shortcomings – or would you expect them to put a positive spin on it? I know what I’d do. I’d dive deep into that treasure filled cave and come up with every bright, shiny, admirable and amazing thing I could find. Then I’d make sure they focused relentlessly on that.
Do you find it easy to positively affirm family members, friends, clients and customers, colleagues and co-workers? Then you should find it easy to positively affirm yourself—the person whose team you’re on for life and who should be your most important priority.
The fact is you are the pivotal point of your professional and personal life. The quality of your life just mirrors how you feel about yourself.
And what version do you see; the updated version, or an old outdated version? As Nicola Moras points out, you’re not the same person you were a year ago. You’re not the same person you were 6 months ago, and you won’t be the same person six months from now.
Have you ever been drawn back by fond memories to people, places or situations; to that freeze frame of how it was? Have you ever gone back to try and recapture those moments, only to find that it’s changed unrecognizably? Well that’s what we often do when thinking of ourselves. We get stuck in an old version. We leave out the “growth spurts” and quantum leaps. And all too often we allow others (especially those who have known us for a long time) to keep us stuck in that old, outdated version of the us-that-used to be.
Your thoughts and words reflect your self image. And that self image has a dramatic effect on how you influence others.
Be careful what publicity releases you send out into the world.
Are you your go-to person; the one you trust and can always rely on; the one you can look in the eye with pride? Would you choose you to be on your team in a heartbeat? Well then, celebrate that!
You see, if you’re waiting for others to validate you, you have no control over it. Some will. Some won’t. And you’re left feeling like a child who got the answer right, but was ignored by the teacher. When you validate and mentor yourself, you can do it anytime, anywhere and as often as you like.
Here’s a five minute self-mentoring exercise you can do every morning:
Go stand in front of the mirror, look yourself in the eye, throw your head back, smile, and celebrate something new you’ve learned, progress you’ve made or something scary you’ve faced. Congratulate yourself for having stepped out of your comfort zone in some way and taken a necessary risk; for admitting you’re stuck and reaching out for help, for not procrastinating about something, or for admitting and dealing with a bad habit. It doesn’t matter how small or insignificant this step may seem to anyone else—it’s a big deal for you, so it needs to be celebrated. Now blow yourself a kiss or high-five yourself. Spin around and do it again. Now, say you are the most stunning, smart, talented, courageous person I know and watch out world, because here I come! Go on, say it! Louder. And again – louder. I defy you to do this three times in a row, without feeling like an Olympic winner.
Repeat this mentoring exercise every morning for the next 30 days. If there’s a partner or family member around, get them to do it too – and get them to do it for you.
You think this sounds too simplistic to be effective? Well, you repeated the “small talk” that many times didn’t you? And it worked, didn’t it? All you’re doing is changing the content.
You’re forming a habit of affirming your best friend!
Hey, it takes five minutes, and you were looking in the mirror anyway.
And if you feel uncomfortable at first—that’s valuable too. It prompts the question why?