In the first Harry Potter book, Harry stumbles onto the Mirror of Erised, which shows the “deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts.” (The name is Desire backwards – like it’s in a mirror, you see.) If only there was one of these in every home, every gym…
More often, as we are on our wellness journeys, we see the negatives instead. When my good friend Angie was at the gym the other day, she had a classic case going on. She has been killing it and getting stronger, but feels like the weight isn’t coming off the way she hoped. That day, she got down on herself for having to modify some exercises. As she was leaving, an elderly man she only knew from seeing him daily at the gym, stopped her to introduce himself as Leon, and tell her how impressed he was with her workouts and dedication. “I just wanted you to know that it’s not going unnoticed.”
Use Leon’s Eyes
We had a good conversation with The Boy a month back; he’s 14 and finding his way between grown-up and teenager. He started asking questions about politics and government; like most of us he had some preset opinions. I told him that he needs to be able to put himself in someone else’s shoes. It’s too easy to think the other is an idiot or wrong, or even a bad person; we tend to become insulated and surround ourselves with people who think like us to avoid confrontation.
What the hell is Karl talking about now, and what does this have to do with anything?
In fitness, we say things like “if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you!” This is no different; if The Boy stays in an echo chamber, does that help him learn and grow? Not from where I’m sitting – so I pushed him to figure out why someone might have the opinion they do. Ask honest questions, have conversations. You may not agree with them in the end, but at least you can get a feel for where they are coming from.
When Angie was talking about her gym experience, I thought of that conversation with The Boy. We are so hard on ourselves; we use that “negative mirror” and pick out all the bad spots. Thinking, “Oh, look at all the work I have to do” instead of taking pride in all the things we’ve achieved. What would happen if we took a second and put ourselves in someone else’s shoes?
Leon doesn’t carry all the filters you put on yourself. He doesn’t know about the bullying when you were young, or the way the mention of the Presidential Physical Fitness Test could make your stomach flip (actually did again just Googling the damn thing). He doesn’t know about your body image, or the way you pick out your own flaws in every photo. He does, however, care, and wants you to know what HE sees in you.
Look through Leon’s eyes, and acknowledge your own hard work and dedication. Give yourself credit for how hard this is, and how far you’ve already come. Realize that while the scale may not show the number you want, you are losing inches and feeling healthier, more fit, gaining muscle, hitting physical goals you never dreamed of.
The Year of True Vision
It is 2020, after all, my friends – so take a clear look at yourself. If your eyes have too many filters, borrow Leon’s for a while. Realize what others see in you – and if those others are feeding you negative thoughts, then ask them politely to leave. Or maybe just put on some lipstick…
While you are using Leon’s eyes, take a minute and look around at your friends and family. Odds are, they could use a dose of 2020 vision as well. Put yourself in their shoes, and tell them what you see. Tell them how they inspire you, how they’ve changed you and your world. Heck, just tell them good job! We could all use a little more of that.