In one of the scenes from the Cool Runnings, the German driver was bullying Junior. Needless to say Yul Brenner, Junior’s teammate, was not only upset with the obnoxious German but was also livid with the docile way in which Junior was accepting the abuse. Yul dragged Junior into the rest room, planted him in front of the mirror and asked, “When you look in the mirror what do you see?” Junior, unsure of the answer his fuming teammate was after and even more unsure of what he was truly seeing sheepishly replied ” Junior Bevel?” To which Yul responded ” I see pride, I see power, I see a bad ass mother, who takes no crap off of nobody”. Initially Junior couldn’t believe that his teammate saw all of that but after some prodding, looked deeper into the mirror and affirmed that he was indeed that person. Junior became convinced that he was filled with pride and power and that he was the kind of person who doesn’t take crap from anyone. It was a very comical scene but it was belied by a very profound truth—-We always act consistently with the image we see in the mirror.
Your most important opinion
It doesn’t matter what others see in you. It is what you see yourself and the person you see yourself to be that matters most of all. Throughout your life you will have many opinions however the most important opinion you will ever have is the one you have of yourself. Your self-image is the person you see your self to be with the abilities and attributes you believe you have and as such is the most dominant factor that affects everything you do. How you perform in any area of your life is only partly a function of your potential and largely a function of how you see yourself to be.
Each of us has a self-image of ourselves as a parent, a spouse, an employee, etc and we can never perform at a level higher than where we see ourselves. I am sure you can think of at least one person you know whom you thought could have done so well in a certain area and you have tried to convince them of it but to no avail. Maybe you yourself were being encouraged to apply yourself so that you could learn a new skill or to use your talents to start your own business but you never did. There have been a few instances in my life where I’ve been in that same situation. The truth is that if you don’t see yourself doing it; if that’s not the image you see when you look in the mirror it simply will not happen. As one author aptly puts it “What you see in yourself is what you get out of yourself. What you present yourself to be, in the end is what is drawn out of you.”
Thoughts are things
Many people try to hide from the image they see in the mirror, dodging behind addictions, overeating, overworking and other smoke screens with the belief that these things will allow them to be seen in a better light. Recent polls indicate that four out of every five Americans have a poor self-image. The continued denial and hiding from the image they see in the mirror has resulted in a plethora of maladies. Academic under achievement, low productivity and depression just to name a few. What you must realize is that no amount of hiding or denial will change the image you see in the mirror because every minute of the day you are recreating and reaffirming those same images through your thoughts. The key is not to deny what you see in the mirror but to change your reality through the way you think. Thoughts are things and without exception, you will always move towards your dominant thoughts.
Reprogramming your mind
I cannot possibly overstate the importance of you establishing your own self-image. Most people are operating with a self-image that was created by others. It may have been a parent who wanted them to pursue a particular career path because in their mind that spelt success. It may have been the TV commercials that consistently suggested that in order to be at their best they needed to own the next best thing on the market or maybe it was their dear friend who consistently criticized them because they themselves were trying to cover up their own insecurities. Whatever the source the majority of people live with a self-image imposed on them by someone else 80% of the time it is a negative self-image. Please note however that although it was imposed, it was you who decided( albeit subconsciously) to embrace it and as we discussed earlier it is impossible to do anything that conflicts with the image of who you really are. Your thoughts, feelings and actions are all consistent with the images you see in the mirror. The answer to this dilemma is to reprogram your mind. Flood your mind with new thoughts that support your goals. Remember , your thoughts, feelings and actions all combine to create your results.
1. Break the pattern of the image you have been seeing for so long by making note of the thoughts that you have. This will take some effort however, the rewards will be well worth it as you will find your self happier, more confident and rapidly moving towards the life of your dreams.
2. Create an image in your mind of the person you want to be with the attributes you want to have. See yourself as a good student getting excellent grades, see yourself smoothly and confidently transitioning into a new career or successfully reentering the work force.
3. Practice visualization. Play your new self-image over and over again in your mind. Let me reassure you that although you do need to make time you don’t need to set aside hours everyday to accomplish this. While you’re in the shower, doing chores around the house, or walking down the street you can use that time to think about and imagine the new you. In time and without you being consciously aware of it you’ll be thinking and acting like the person you wish to become. Of course there will be those in your life who would rather treat you as the person you once were but because you simply cannot act in a manner inconsistent with the person you see yourself to be you’ll become like Junior in Cool Runnings who finally stood up to his father and declared; “I am man and an Olympian!!”
Keep on Pushing!