Some of you might already have come across this image:
A cat looking in the mirror seeing a lion. The message accompanying this image often is: What matters is how you see yourself. And the idea is great.
It is true, what matters is how you see yourself. However, put this way the message still pictures a cat seeing itself as a lion. Experience and image are not in line with each other. I think the big challenge is to BOTH EXPERIENCE the reality of who you are AND SEE precisely that IMAGE in the mirror.
Now “mirrors” in all kinds help you to adjust the experience you have of yourself to the image and viceversa. In my experience, you get to meet the people who are the best mirrors for you. When you consider it honestly, people reflect to you what it is you are transforming right here and right now along your path towards your self.
I was recently offered a couple of those “mirrors”. People who certainly and explicitly urged me to re-adjust the image I have of me, the reflection I’m staring at. What’s more, they also urged me to transform something at a deeper level. They invited me to re-adjust the actual experience I have of myself.
Unlike the cat in this picture looking at a lion in the mirror, I’m kind of trying to come to terms with the opposite. Let’s say I would be more like a black panther looking in a mirror and seeing some helpless little black kitten. The tendency I have is to underestimate myself, to see a reflection that does not speak of every strength I have. I’d rather see the weaknesses. Now there is nothing wrong with seeing your own weaknesses. It’s more: I’m truely proud of the fact that I’m willing to see my own weaknesses. But to ONLY see your weaknesses is as bad as to ONLY acknowledge your strengths. Both attitudes mean there is something of yourself you do not fully embrace. And if you are on your way to embrace yourself with all your strengths and weaknesses, people will cross your path who offer you the chance to do just that.
If you are a cat and speak and behave like a lion, many a “mirror” will frown, many people will provide you with some feedback that you are not aligned with yourself. That is, if you listen and are open to the feedback before you start roaring :D. If you are a panther and behave like a helpless kitten “mirrors” will also frown, and tell you something is not in balance between who you think you are, how you behave, how they perceive you. Both discrepancies between image and experience will originate feedback. It’s up to you whether you accept it and use it effectively.
Ah, feedback! While I am always gratefull to get it, I must honestly admit sometimes I curse the messenger for chasing me out of my comfort zone. Being a panther looking at a helpless kitten is what I’m used to, so please don’t disturb this comfortable habit. I almost got it to the point where I actually started believing I was that helpless kitten. So why on earth would you chase me out of that comfortable thinking? But… while cursing the messenger, I already realize that this is only me resisting the unresistible call to become more of who I truely am. It’s a Dare thing. Can I, should I, will I? A second between the good old times when the kitten-trick worked (at least for me) and the start of a journey towards a more truthfull panther-like version of me.
Fully living your strengths requires first that you acknowledge them as your own strengths, to their full extent. Fully taking responsibility of your weaknesses requires that you acknowledge them as you own weaknesses, to their full extent. As long as your “mirrors” reflect something else than what you experience to be on the inside, experience and image need adjusting to one another. Bringing more and more a true balanced picture of your strengths and weaknesses. Up to the point where even the terms ‘strength’ and ‘weakness’ loose their possibly judgemental undertone. For me this is an ongoing exercise, like unfinished polishing and fine-tuning of me.
I think I’ll go find myself a nice strong branch somewhere up a tree and meditate panther-like on those specific strengths of being me I have been hiding and distrusting.
Feel free to post a comment, I’ll read after the siesta ;)…