When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
Lao Tzu[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]
I hate looking in the mirror. Especially naked.
I would think all but the most narcissistic among us would agree with those statements. We all view ourselves with the most critical eye. We don’t like the way our body is shaped, our complexion or our hair. We see our ears as uneven or our navel off-center (yes, my son’s navel is off-center.)
Have you ever seen yourself in a photo and thought in horror, “Is that what I look like?” Or maybe you’ve heard your voice on a recording and think, “I don’t really sound like that, do I?” We all do it. We all see ourselves on some level as being an oddball or ugly.
Those feelings of inadequacy can rob us of relationships and experiences because we hold back and assume we’re not worthy.
But there is an even more destructive mirror we can gaze into: the figurative mirror that reflects our heart.
What do you see when you look into that mirror? If you’re like most of us, you see the reflection of years of bad choices, wrong decisions, screw-ups, meltdowns, and regrets. In fact, we are amazing record keepers. We use our mind and emotions to maintain a detailed log all our failures.
It’s that “file cabinet of foibles” that can hold us back and hold us down. We remember the time we tripped in public and consider ourselves a klutz. Or we shy away from carnival rides because of the one time we got sick.
But there is a much more insidious reflection we can see in the mirror. It’s not just minor blemishes staring back at us, but deep wounds. The person we see is damaged and deformed from years of abuse, bullying, addictions or dysfunction. We are often afraid to even glance in that mirror because we are terrified of the face that might look back at us. I know, for me, the very thought of some experiences evokes a visceral response that causes me to recoil emotionally.
For just a moment, think of the damage that reflection has done in your life. Think of the relationships you have damaged. Think of the missed opportunities. Think of the regrets caused by your pain, fear or anger. I don’t mean to minimize your struggle in the least. It is very real. It is very painful. And it is very damaging.
Your life is quite likely filled with limiting beliefs, fears, and self-sabotage. They are problems you may not even recognize but are keeping you from becoming who you can be, locked in regret over who you have been.
Motivational guru Tony Robbins uses a technique he calls the Dickens Process. It’s based on the classic Dickens novel, “A Christmas Carol.” Ebeneezer Scrooge was visited that night by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. And it was those encounters that changed his life. Let’s apply this process to the limiting beliefs you’ve found when you look in that mental mirror.
Look at the past.
Think of all the years you have wasted locked in the turmoil. Think of all the missed chances, the lost loves, the damaged friendships or loneliness that has resulted from being locked in your prison of regret. Again, I’m not minimizing your pain, but we have all prevented wounds from healing by continually breaking them open again.
Look at the present
Are you where you thought you’d be? Do you have the level of success, love or happiness in your life that you dreamed of when you were young? Or have you long given up on achieving your dreams? Do you wake up thankful for another day or full of dread and fear?
Look in the future
Imagine yourself 5, 10, or 20 years from now, still buried in the regret, fear, or pain that plagues you now. Imagine the pain of more missed opportunities. Imagine how it will feel to know you could have turned things around but didn’t.
Here’s the truth: The only thing worse than all the mistakes and regret from your past is allowing them to control you for one more day.
I’m not saying it will be easy. You may require therapy or treatment. You might easily relapse into self-pity or self-limiting behaviors. But it starts with a decision. You must decide right now that you no longer want to be a prisoner of your past.
Another look at the future
Look again into your future. Only this time imagine what your future could look like if you decide to let go of the past and become who you were always meant to be. Imagine the life of joy and fulfillment. Imagine the possibility of financial and business success. Imagine the world of love and connection you could experience.
Do you want that? Don’t hide from the mirror any longer. Look squarely at the person you are and who you have been. Admit the flaws, failures, and fumbles. Then decide you will not be that person for another moment. Decide you will no longer allow your past to determine your future.
Think about how quickly you would get in an accident if you only looked in the rearview mirror while driving. You would miss what’s in front of you and probably crash. And you’d miss the wonderful things at the end of your journey. Quit looking in the rearview and get your eyes on the things ahead.