September 19, 2013

Is Your Reflection What You Want To See?

Have you ever had the chance to look at yourself in one of those “fun house” mirrors? You know what I’m talking about… they either add what looks like 100 […]

Have you ever had the chance to look at yourself in one of those “fun house” mirrors? You know what I’m talking about… they either add what looks like 100 pounds, make you a couple of feet taller or turn your face into some sort of wacky modern art painting! It can be kind of funny to see yourself from a radically different perspective and then feel a sense of relief when your reflection turns back to “normal.”

And, for some of us, as the hands of time seem to be marching across our faces – and bodies – we still tend to see a version of our youthful features when we look in a mirror. Some people would call it denial, and others just choose to not think about it at all. Either way, the reflections we see of ourselves are definitely not a strictly objective view!

But, have you ever taken a moment to actually “reflect” on the word “reflection”? In the most literal sense, it’s all about giving back something, such as heat, sound or light as in the case of our mirrors. And, if you ever spent any time in the principal’s office or in trouble at home you were probably asked how your behavior had negatively “reflected” on your class, your school, your teacher, your family. What kind of image were you sending back to others, based on a specific action?

Most of us take some sort of care in the “reflection” we send out into the world each day. It could be something as simple as brushing your teeth, combing your hair and putting on clean clothes. For others, it does involve quite a bit more! Regardless of your idea of creating a good image to “send out,” it’s something we all do on some level because we want to be seen in a certain way based on our own self-image. And that brings us to another kind of reflection – the one that has to do with how we see ourselves!

I’m not just talking about that face in the mirror, but how we see our inner self. What would you see if you turned that mirror inward and took a good look at yourself inside? Sometimes we tend to mask things we don’t like about ourselves on the inside with a lot of disguises on the outside. These “disguises” can take a LOT of forms… from fancy cars, McMansions, hot-off-the-runway designer fashions and business excesses, to never forming relationship connections, distance from family, poor attitudes – well, I think you get the idea!

All these things are designed to “reflect” a certain image we want the world to see and use as a basis in forming their opinions of us. But, I’m here to tell you, none of that can permanently cover up – or fix – what’s inside! That was a painful lesson for me to learn.

Something a friend mentioned last week brought me back to this idea of “reflections” and how we can place too much importance on the wrong types of reflections and not enough on the “right” kind of reflections.

Annually, in observance of Yom Kippur, she spends 24 hours fasting and reflecting on the past year. In the Jewish faith, this day is set aside to atone for all the sins of the year and to repent for all the wrongs that may have been committed against others and God. And, as we discussed her annual practice she said this day marks one of the most powerful days in her life every year.

I asked her to tell me about that and why it had such an impact. She explained that when any preoccupation with work, business, food and the day-in, day-out stuff were stripped away, it freed her mind and soul to really examine what was going right in her life… and what had maybe gone off-track. With a full 24 hours dedicated specifically to REALLY taking stock and looking at herself, she gets the opportunity to do some serious “reflecting.”

By turning that mirror inward and seeing what image she is sending back out into the world, this provides the perfect time for her to “fine-tune” what she is reflecting to others. And, it also allows my friend to examine what kind of “reflection” she is on her friends, her family, her community, her workplace, and if she is a worthy representative of them.

But, most importantly, let’s go back to that original, literal definition of reflection – giving back – and look at it from a bigger perspective, which is also something my friend includes in this annual ritual she observes. Not only does she “reflect” on the rights and wrongs of last year, on properly appreciating the blessings and people in her life, on targeting areas for personal growth and on charting a path for the next year, she also makes a point of considering when and where she can have a more positive impact in the world. Yes… where she can GIVE BACK!

I want to ask you a question: how often do you make the time to reflect? And, I don’t just mean that quick glance in the rearview-mirror, “coulda, woulda, shoulda,” 20-20 hindsight reflection. I’m talking the real deal here – no distractions, soul-searching, shine-a-spotlight-on-yourself type of reflection! Think about how you want to be considered by others, what “reflection” do you want them to see? Are you giving back an image of sincerity, honor, respect, integrity, confidence, compassion and genuine success? Do you even know who you are inside, what you stand for and what you want to achieve?

Have you considered borrowing just a little time from those minutes spent in front of the mirror every day and using it to turn that reflection inward? Try it. If it’s only 5 or 10 less minutes every day worrying about your outward image and grooming your inner self, think about it… that could be an entire hour every week you could spend on reflection! Imagine what a powerful impact that could have in your life and in the lives of those you “reflect” upon.

I’m not asking you to do what my friend does and bite off a big 24-hour chunk – start with a tiny bite. Just try 5 or 10 minutes; it’s less than 1/100th of your entire day. I know you can do it and I’m here to help you polish your inner and outer “reflection” so others see how you can sparkle and shine! And, if you want to inspire others to reflect, share this with your friends, your family and your coworkers. Better yet, start a global trend of “reflection” and post this on all your social media or simply forward it!

Don’t forget to join me this Sunday night for The Dani Johnson Show on your television, radio, computer and smartphone at 9 pm ET/8 pm CT. I’ll be talking calls and reflecting on how to live the uncommon life!

 

In great faith,

 

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