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Who Holds Your Mirror? Allowing someone to define you is a mistakeWho Holds Your Mirror? Do you give your mirror to someone else and allow them to tell you what they see in your mirror? Do you ever have the feeling you used to like yourself? Maybe you have handed over your mirror to someone and they are dictating how you should feel about yourself. Imagine a two-sided mirror and pretend there are two different images reflected–one on each side. The images are both you, but depending on who is holding the mirror, the image may look very different from reality and changes sometimes daily. The other person holding the mirror could be anyone–a family member, friend, spouse, the media, a teacher, a neighbor, co-worker, boss– anyone that you give the power to measure your self worth by. Sometimes, people form opinions on others based on how they feel that day and it has nothing to do with you at all. For example, a teacher who is tired, crabby, and doesn’t like kids in general is mean to you one day. Or, maybe a neighbor gives you a negative attitude. You could think you’ve done something wrong and your mirror reflects a bad image. You’re not a bad person, but you gave that teacher or that neighbor your mirror for that moment. Later, you’re still feeling bad about yourself because of the encounter and you go to the lunchroom. You sit down next to a guy who is having trouble at home (you’re not aware of that, tho) and he looks up and tells you to leave. Not because of who you are, but because he doesn’t want to talk to anybody. You feel like a loser because you gave that guy your mirror. You go home, turn on the TV and watch shows that have the ideal person represented. You know what’s on TV--women have the perfect body, are attractive, accomplished, and are independent. You look at yourself in the mirror, and feel as if you just don’t measure up. You begin to see what you are not instead of what you are. Your focus is centered on what others have made you feel are weaknesses because no one has affirmed your strengths. Yet, you’re the one who gives up the power to determine how much value is to be placed on the person you see when you look in your own mirror. When you give someone your mirror to define who you are, and how much worth you have, you will always be at their mercy. Your value will always depend on how the other person feels on that particular day. A person who is feeling bad about him/herself or ashamed or depressed, about their own life, may not be looking at you with clear eyes. If someone lashes out at you because of their own problems, that doesn’t mean that you are to blame because you don’t look or act the way they think you should or because you said no to doing them a favor. Not that anyone should hold your mirror, but think about how the people that love you describe you. How would your very best friend describe you? They might mention your bubbly personality, your sense of humor, compassion for other people, etc. Your family might encourage you to focus on your good qualities. Just like a girl adds a little make up to an already attractive face, your friend might tell you the things that you already do that could make you even better. They don’t imply that what or who you are is bad; they just help by pulling out and highlighting what you are. Your best friend/family doesn’t change their overall view of you when they’re having a bad day. These are the people you can depend on to treat you with value and respect whether they are in a good mood or not. Now suppose a girl meets a guy and they date for awhile. She adds someone new to her life that holds her mirror. At first, he may say things to her like she’s beautiful, sexy, smart and fun to be around.” She stands a little taller, feels more confident, and really shines in her mirror. She thinks her life is pretty good–someone outside her family loves her, she looks great, life is good. After awhile though, the boyfriend says things like she laughs too loud or she should wear more make up or that volunteering wasn’t cool, and she begins to question her image in the mirror. All of a sudden, she doesn’t think she looks so good anymore. If this were to continue for weeks or months, or even years, she may decide she no longer has the same worth she used to. And then, one day, a thought occurs to her, “Hey, wait a minute, I used to like myself, what happened?” Well, she allowed the reflection in her mirror to be shaped by the opinion of someone else, the boyfriend who may have turned into her husband. She perceived his opinion to have more weight and let him define her values and decided who she was going to be. She decided she didn’t measure up because the only voice she paid attention to was his. His opinion of what was “right” or “cool” or “sexy.” But, who says his opinions are right? Why does he get to declare that volunteering isn’t cool, or laughing out loud is wrong? It seems that throughout her life, on the days he says she’s beautiful and fun to be around, she feels good and the days he says you’re clumsy and boring, she feels like a loser and believes everything he says. She doesn’t take into account that usually when something is going bad in his life (like losing his job), he projects it onto her and bashes her. Another example may be a guy who just isn’t as cool as he’d like to be. He bases his opinion of cool on what he sees in the movies and who the girls in school always flock around. Since they are not hanging around him, and they’re holding his mirror, he decides he’s not as valuable as other guys. He forgets he has a lot of talent and strengths in other areas. He starts a new job and his boss thinks he’s pretty great. The customers think he’s great. He learns new skills, enjoys his job and starts to feel pretty good about himself. When a co-worker criticizes him, instead of giving that person the mirror, he lets the boss hold the mirror and keeps a positive self image for himself. When he goes home after work, his parents are angry because he worked late again, and his new girlfriend is jealous of the long hours. She complains about his job, calling it lame. He gets confused. He looks in the mirror and sees the same image he had before, but feels less valued. So, what’s the deal, he likes who he is at work, why does he feel so crummy at school and at home? He thinks Hey, I’m the same person, I like the same music, and activities, I used to enjoy my life, why am I so bummed all the time? I feel guilty when my parents say I don’t appreciate them and guilty when my girlfriend says she feels neglected, and I wish I could just feel good about myself once in awhile. Why can’t others make me feel as good as the people at work do? The only thing that changes for this guy is who is holding the mirror. If you can identify any of these examples, you are the only one who can change the feelings. Stop handing over the mirror. Stop giving someone else the power to define you–to decide if you are acceptable or valuable or not. Especially when so many people have faulty opinions because of their own shortages and emotional pain. In spite of all the evidence that someone is an emotionally immature, emotionally unavailable, critical individual, you believe whatever is said because you give others your mirror–the power to decide what image is reflected in your personal mirror. You might be one who tries to defend yourself with explanations about why they are wrong about you, or you could agonize over the comments and try to change those things, or try desperately to avoid the things that others criticize about you. If you hand over your mirror to someone else, it’s because you have not assigned value and worth to yourself. When you don’t give yourself worth, you tend to give worth to everyone and everything around you with the mistaken idea that their opinion is more real or valuable. If you accept their negative opinion of you, then any personality trait, any behavior, skill, or attitude is better than yours because you have decided that what you possess is less valuable because you have allowed others to hold your mirror. The problem with that is you could spend a lifetime trying to figure out what it is that makes a good reflection in your mirror and never realize that it depends on who is holding the mirror. You will be spinning and running as fast as you can trying to figure out what’s acceptable or cool and what’s not. If you decide that anyone but you gets to define what makes a good you, you will never discover who you are intended to be. Remind yourself who was holding the mirror when you liked yourself the best. If you used to like yourself, go back in your memory to that time. Who was in your life? Was it family, friends, a job you had, or a talent you were using? We can’t always control the circumstances in our lives or the people in our life. If you are counting on a person or a talent to make you feel good about yourself, what will you do if you lose that talent through an accident, or that person dies? When you give your mirror to the Heavenly Father who created you, and trust Him with your image in the mirror, you will have confidence to decide you have value. God created you with unique personality traits and with a unique purpose. When you accept His opinion of you, you won’t ever let others hold your mirror again. When someone is unhappy and holds your mirror and you become (in your mind) all the things they criticize you for, it’s very painful. I understand that kind of pain, self-doubt, and constant questioning. It’s hard to determine who you are when the one who is supposed to love you best intentionally creates a negative image of you. It may take awhile to regain the strength you used to have before so many disapproving opinions blocked out your true mirror image. If you’re feeling strong enough, reach out to someone to talk about erasing that negative self image. The best thing for someone experiencing an unhealthy relationship or social issue at work is to talk to loving friends and family. When I felt too broken to trust my mirror, I let my mom or dad, or best friend hold my mirror, and they would fill me up with reminders of all the good things about me. They can make you believe you are amazing again. Let them give you honest feedback about who you really are and that will help to erase bad memories of a time when you let someone else control your self image. When you have no one else to hold the mirror to reflect the real you, choose to believe the reflection that your Heavenly Father has put there. Fill yourself up with the promises of God, read your Bible, soak in His love, read the following from Psalm 18. 16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. 17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. 18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. 19 He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. Keep a journal or a box of index cards to record compliments you have received—even as far back as your childhood. Some of us have an emotional issue of not being able to believe positive comments from others. Practice receiving compliments and responding with a simple thank you instead of denying or diminishing what the other person said to you. If your first response to receiving compliments is to say to yourself, “No, I could never easily accept a compliment,” then re-read this. You need to know that God loves you and He is designing a perfect plan for you. He will use your whole package of life experiences you’ve had to help you grow and so you can help others. He does this because He truly does delight in you. The bottom line is–you will be a better person when you hold your mirror yourself, looking closely and honestly and with the intention of being content with yourself, but realizing and accepting that you are not done yet, which is okay and a very good place to be. One Time Life Time Legacy © 2006 I would like your input, write me at wcamp11357@juno.comHere is another site you might like to read especially if you are starting high school for the first time. http://www.onetimelifetimelegacy.com/index.php?p=1_61_Cool-and-Confident