When was the last time that you looked at yourself in the mirror?
Not the combing your hair, brushing your teeth, checking the make-up, tying the necktie, “how do I look in this” looking in the mirror. Not the take a selfie for Facebook, Instagram, texting looking in the mirror.
The looking at you in the mirror.
The eye-to-eye with yourself looking in the mirror.
The “I really see me” looking in the mirror.
When was the last time you looked in the mirror in that way?
When I ask people that question, the answer is often “when I was a kid,” or “when I was a teen.” Once in a while someone will reference a special event: their wedding day, the birth of a child, or a death. Almost never do I hear “today,” or “this week,” or “it wasn’t too long ago.”
I was in a personal growth workshop four or five years ago, and was asked that question. My answer was something to the effect of “a very, very long time ago.” The facilitator challenged me to do some mirror work with him. I didn’t want to; the idea of it was scary. But I was there to challenge myself, to grow. So, hesitantly, I agreed. And I haven’t stopped looking in the mirror–really seeing me–since that day.
I was reluctant at first; that told me I had to continue. The fact that I didn’t want to see all of me told me that I had work to do. It told me that what others saw when they looked at me wasn’t the person I wanted them to see. It told me that if I was to change–to more fully show up as the person I am–I had to continue looking in the mirror.
It has become a part of my daily routine now…this looking eye-to-eye with myself in the mirror. Sometimes I smile at me. Sometimes I frown. Once in a while there is a high-five, or a thumbs-down. There are always words. I tell myself how proud I am of me for stepping up to a challenge. How grateful I am for the opportunity of being able to help a client make a new discovery or overcome a hurdle. I tell myself “thank you” for allowing me to take a day off and have fun, to re-create. And I tell myself when I really screwed something up. I ask myself what I can learn. I explore with myself how I can avoid making the same mistake again. I let myself know when I am disappointed in me, and when I am proud of me.
So what does this have to do with “Being Eye to Eye with Change?” Everything.
Big change doesn’t happen outside of us. It happens inside.
It doesn’t matter if it is a personal change, or an organizational change, or social change. If it disrupts our lives, that is happening inside of us. The way that we expected things to be isn’t that way anymore; our relationship to whatever is changing is being disrupted. If the change is big, we don’t just recognize it consciously. We feel it in our bodies. “My heart aches.” “Remember when…? I long for those days again!” “My stomach turns over when I think about…” “I have a bad feeling…”
Being mentally attuned to a big change may be necessary to make the transition, but it isn’t sufficient. Again, it doesn’t matter the “level” of the change (personal, organizational, social). Catharsis is needed. There has to be a release of what is holding you in the present so that you can move into the future. You may be able to talk the talk without that; you may even be able to walk the talk. But you won’t be able to internalize the new without letting go of whatever it is replacing. And that leads to anger, to resentment, to stress, and more. That becomes additional baggage to carry every day.
Being eye to eye with yourself when facing change allows you to witness those emotions, to examine them, and to address them. It provides a forum for being honest with yourself, for holding yourself accountable as to how you are approaching the change, how you are addressing it, and how you are responding to it. It calls on you to examine the ways in which you are–and are not–being attentive to others affected by the change. It challenges you to use this change opportunity to step up more fully as who you are. And, it allows you to honor yourself for your efforts along the way.
I would invite you to be eye to eye with yourself today, even if there is no big change happening at the moment. I would invite you to be eye to eye with yourself tomorrow, even if there is no big change happening then. Become comfortable being with you, truly with you. For many people, that will be a big change in itself. And, for each of us, it is valuable preparation and provides a firm grounding for when the next highly disruptive shift occurs.
What is your experience of being eye to eye with change? Comment below.