Looking at Yourself: Mindful Reflections in the Mirror and the Mind

MarilynDavisatTIERSStarred Page By MarilynDavisatTIERS, 15th Jan 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Personal Development>Self-awareness

“Seeing within changes one's outer vision.” ― Joseph Chilton Pearce

Do You Dislike What You See Sometimes?

Are there some mornings that you look in the mirror and wonder just who that person is looking back at you?

• Are there lines that were not there the other week
• A couple more grey hairs
• The hairline is receding faster
• The scales still reflect the five pounds from the holidays
• You get up wearing a perpetual frown and dread the day

Often these outer manifestations of a problem get attention. People think they should do something about them; make some changes and look better.

However, there is another place to look, and that is within.

Like an Internal X-ray

People in recovery or those who wish to change their thoughts and internally motivated behaviors use it frequently. It is the “internal-looking-at-you-mirror”. If you think of this as a special type of mirror, like your own x-ray, where you can evaluate the workings of your mental and emotional well-being, it helps to summarize how to look within.

Most of us operate from self-defeating cognitive distortions, where we think in a faulty manner that tends to get us less than desirable results.

The distorted thinking is within and the manifested outcomes are without.

As Within so Without and As Above, So Below

The actual text of the maxim, as translated by Dennis W. Hauck from The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, is "That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracle of the One Thing.”

Thus, whatever happens on the physical, emotional, or mental levels also happens on every other level.

Looking Within

When you find some aspect of yourself that causes you problems, is objectionable, or you find no longer works for you, there is often a desire to change. This also happens when someone asks you to look at some aspect of yourself that he or she does not like.

However, if someone else has brought it up, you may become defensive.

If you become defensive about something, the immediate question to ask yourself is: “What am I defending? Is it my ego, my illusion of self, or my personal inner image?"

You may discover it is your ego; it can be your illusion of yourself that you have wanted to project so that others saw you in a particular way, or it may be that you still judge particular aspects of your behavior as so “bad” that you absolutely refuse to acknowledge that they are part of you.

Our egos and illusions of self are often so afraid of exposure or of being less than our projected image.

What is Factual? Looking at Reality Objectively

The only way to determine if there is truth in what is said to you or you believe is truthful about you is to quietly, objectively evaluate the information and see if it is true; honestly determining the truth or lack of it for yourself about yourself.

A simple way to do this is to reflect on any situation that did not go favorably for you. For instance, you got angry with a co-worker believing that you did more than they did on a project and yet they seemed to take the majority of the credit at a presentation.

You seethed quietly and after the meeting, let the other person know why you were angry. However, you did not like the fact that you brought up old hurts and perceived slights in your discussion with the co-worker.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Setting aside time to reflect on this situation, ask, “Why was I angry that they seemed to minimize my contribution?” Then when you arrive at your answer, ask yourself either “Why?” or “Because…”

Both of these prompts will help you get down to the core reasons for your feelings, actions and thoughts.

If you continue asking yourself why and because, you will ultimately get to your most honest answer. These two prompts work for many situations.

Some people can track their answers in their heads; others find writing in a journal about a situation gives them the black and white reality.

Performance Review – Not Just for Jobs

Most of us like compliments. However, like other things in life, such as day/night, light/dark or sun/moon, compliments have their counterpart, criticism.

Without knowing what is causing us difficulties or without people telling us what needs to change to be effective, we would just stumble along wondering why our lives were not meaningful, productive, or fruitful.

When people do not take the time to correct us, we can assume that since they did not correct us, our actions are acceptable to them. That is not always the case. Tacit approval or unspoken criticism can both contribute to our illusions, believing that relationships and situations are going well; when in fact, they are not.

Without these evaluations, we can create far too many illusions, often wondering why our lives are not improving.

Family, friends, co-workers, bosses, and others who care about you have a responsibility to help you see things about yourself that you might be denying, justifying, or minimizing.

They realize that they will also be, or have been, in a position at some point where someone asked them to look at something that they too might have judged as objectionable.

Criticism and Compliments Can Both Be Helpful

The reality is that when you learn to take both criticism and compliments as merely comments on aspects of yourself to look at; you will have made great strides in seeing yourself from multiple perspectives.

Blind Sides and Riddles

Easier and less embarrassing ways to identify and change your thoughts, actions, and behaviors is to evaluate on a regular schedule.

There has been much written about our blind sides. One reference is the side away from which one is directing one's attention.

There are times that we would prefer that everyone in the room had their attention directed anywhere, other than at us!

Just as you evaluate what you see in the mirror daily, learning to see whether you are operating from self-defeating behaviors or positive aspects can become part of your improvement routine.

Solving your personal riddle for why you do self-defeating things at times means that you can learn to identify them, have an idea of the patterns you use, what triggers your behaviors, and create new ways to deal with things.

Mindful Check-ups

Struggling with any unhealthy aspect of ourselves can seem like an endless ordeal. Rather than viewing this as a dreaded chore, you can start thinking of it in terms of routine maintenance. Think of the many things where you perform scheduled maintenance or replace something when it is no longer useful:

• Car tune-up
• Clean the lint filter
• Change the filter for the heat and air
• Change the oil
• Replace a light bulb
• Get a haircut
• Annual physical
• Dental check-up
• Check the tire pressure
• Check for updates to software
• Review your Spam folder

We do these standard evaluations, reviews and checks because we know they are necessary and being proactive in these choices often means fewer, less costly problems later on.

Mindful attention to your thoughts and motives can help you view these evaluations of yourself as just a normal part of safeguarding that your insides are as well tuned as your outsides or the car.

We are More Important than the Spam Folder

Our greatest asset or possession, if you will, is ourselves. These periodic reviews, evaluations and maintenance on our internal self is vital to continue becoming the best person we can be.

We are not trying to become someone else in this effort. We may strive to use qualities of someone else because we see that they net better results in the same fashion that we would emulate their work habits.

Nevertheless, we are only striving to become a better “me”, not a clone of “them”.

Who Am I? How Would it Be Different If?

If we find that we do not like something, the simplest thing to do is adopt a spiritual principle, or admirable quality to replace the self-defeating one and then begin acting as if that quality is within.

It is a technique developed by Alfred Adler, sometimes referred to as “the Father of Self-Help”, which encourages clients to begin acting “as if”.

Adler also used used the question, “If your problem were to disappear overnight, how would things be different for you?”

He was influenced to develop this technique after reading, Hans Vaihinger’s The Philosophy of “As If”.

As If:
• I am the opposite of what I found in my reflection
• I am the new thoughts
• I am – confident, assertive, prudent, resourceful– here it can be anything that you aspire to have within

Therefore, if our individual discovered that they argued and brought up the past because their ego was hurt, they could do things differently by showing humility, take the co-worker out to lunch and explaining that they were wrong to carry a grudge and bring up old resentments in the new situation, thus making an amends for behaviors.

With this admission of what the person did incorrectly, it is also a good time to establish boundaries on future collaborations to prevent the problem from happening again. This type of acknowledgment can foster a new working relationship where there might be more equality in future presentations.

" As If" Works Well

I know that “as if” works. Early in my recovery, I would read about or observe people at meetings who were serene, demonstrating good judgment, seeking counsel from others, showing humility, expressing gratitude, and were willing to follow suggestion to name a few.

Therefore, I knew what attitudes, actions and behavior successful people in recovery had. Rather than operate from my usual chaotic, poor choice, do it my way or no way, arrogant, entitled, know it all self, I tried someone else’s approach. I found inspiration and incentive from the progress that I saw other people making in their recovery and adopted their qualities.

An interesting thing happened when I acted as if, I started getting different and better outcomes. When I got different, more positive outcomes, it then became easier to be those qualities rather than just acting as if they were my qualities; acting as if started becoming the way I thought.

Noticed Change Promotes Additional Changes

I started getting compliments on my behaviors, which was something new. I like hearing them, and those initial compliments from family, co-workers, students, and friends reinforced the behaviors and the behaviors reinforced the new thinking.

It takes practice to be mindfully aware of not operating from shortcomings; however, with practice it becomes as second nature as the car, the hair, the updates or the light bulb.

For additional articles by Marilyn Davis

Each person has a unique voice and Wikinut is a place for you to share your wisdom, humor, insight and knowledge. Join, write, get paid and become connected to others who share a passion for writing, supporting one another, and learning on Wikinut.

All images: Pixabay


Looking At Yourself, Making Changes, Mental Health, Mental Health Check-Ups, Mental Wellness, Mindful Reflections, Mindfulness And Changes, Mindfulness Exercises, Self-Development, Self-Discovery, Self-Esteem, Self-Help, Self-Improvement

Meet the author

author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
A Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist, with 25 years of abstinence-based recovery. I write about addictions, recovery, life lessons and general writing tips.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
15th Jan 2014 (#)

Good afternoon, Steve; thank you for moderating and the star. ~Marilyn

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author avatar spirited
15th Jan 2014 (#)

Another very useful article here Marilyn, with some personal touches too.

Life's really about getting to know our own self well isn't it?

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
16th Jan 2014 (#)

Good evening, Spirited; thanks for reading and the comment. Yes, getting to know ourselves is the best unpaid job I ever had. In fact, did an article on that as well :) Since I have me all the time, I might as well learn to live with me and that took some improving in my recovery. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Williamsji
15th Jan 2014 (#)

Look inward, See inside, Read inner mind, a retreat, Your article tempts me to leave poetry and start writing articles of Pscho subjects which I love the most. Good and informative write, Please accept my applause.
Regards & Love from

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
16th Jan 2014 (#)

Good Evening, Williamsji; thank you for the comment. I can't switch at this point - I have never been able to write poetry so you are fortunate if you can switch gears. Give it a try and write on subjects that interest you. I am sure it would be interesting and informative if it is like your poetry. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Jerry Walch
16th Jan 2014 (#)

Another very informative and well written article, Marilyn.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
16th Jan 2014 (#)

Good evening, Jerry; thanks as always. I've got reading to catch up on....you know life and writing sometimes mean less time for other things, so will get caught up with your newest by the weekend. Look forward to reading them. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Jerry Walch
16th Jan 2014 (#)

Know what you mean, Marilyn. My ministerial duties always takes precedence over my writing, reading, and commenting.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
16th Jan 2014 (#)

Good evening, Jerry; so thankful you understand. Not for lack of interest, just the ticking clock :) ~Marilyn

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author avatar Connie McKinney
16th Jan 2014 (#)

I continue to learn so much from your articles, Marilyn. You are a wealth of information on so many topics. We're lucky to have you here on Wikinut. Sharing now.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
16th Jan 2014 (#)

Good evening, Connie; thank you. What a kind thing to say. Just do not ask me about nine hundred and ninety nine other things, I would not have an answer :) ~Marilyn

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
16th Jan 2014 (#)

I like this. My goal this year is to be happier/more content in my own skin, with what I have -- to be enough. I think someone or other calls that ideal "Serenity." Mine won't be that, or even close, but it will be what I make of it. ;) Great article -- and I love your comments to Connie. That made me laugh. Sharing.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
16th Jan 2014 (#)

Good evening, Phyl, we are enough. My numeric reference to Connie was due to reading your article - math will also factor in my next article....omens everywhere...~Marilyn

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author avatar M G Singh
16th Jan 2014 (#)

very nice post.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
16th Jan 2014 (#)

Good afternoon, Madan; thank you for the kind comment. ~Marilyn

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
17th Jan 2014 (#)

so glad you are looking in this direction dear Marilyn for that truly is the way to go...always a choice of course...

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
17th Jan 2014 (#)

Good evening, Carolina, it is a direction that has served me well for more than 25 years. I hope the article encourages other to look within to find answers. Thanks for the comment. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
20th Jan 2014 (#)

It is not easy to change course as we get set in our ways, but try we should. As usual, well presented and thought provoking, Marilyn - siva

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
20th Jan 2014 (#)

Good morning, Siva; thank you. Yes, it is hard; however, I think when the consequences of our actions creates enough problems, we have to look within to find the solutions and change. I appreciate your feedback. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Kingwell
24th Jan 2014 (#)

Another great post.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
25th Jan 2014 (#)

Good evening, Kingwell, thank you. I'm going to get caught up with Filipe this weekend. I think you are up to chapter 11 or 12 now - good for you. I just had some goals to meet then I can grab a cup of tea and read :) ~Marilyn

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