Making Love with a Mirror

It's interesting to consider the thoughts that occur throughout the day and the affect they have. One moment the animal in us wants to eat everything in sight, and next comes a wave of guilt because all the mini donuts are gone.

These thoughts, which have the potential to be self-destructive, dictate the way we perceive ourselves and react with everything around us. If your friend Jenny tells you that you look good in that dress (despite all the donuts), it makes you feel good. This comment from Jenny establishes a sense of confidence. A feeling that you are attractive after those donuts, so why not more!

This social act could be explained psychologically as the development of the persona through social interaction - considering the persona is the mask we wear when presenting ourselves to others. "Does this dress make me look fat?" and, "Did you like that song I sent you?" are a few examples of how people use the opinions of others to make orient themselves in the world.

This normality in human interaction could be very useful in many settings. But there is one problem with taking advice from others, which will be focused on in this entry.

Many people relate entirely to their persona - how others view them- and are unable to distance themselves with the act of gratitude. If you're the type of person, due to setting or other factors, who recieves constistent negative feedback on your persona, and you relate to that too closely, there is a large chance your own view of yourself is as negative as the feeback from others, if not more. These comments from others act as your shovel while you continue to dig yourself deeper and deeper into that dark and dense hole of self-denigration.

Here's another example from your fictional friend Jenny to solidify the point. If you finished off that pack of mini-donuts and received a hurtful comment from Jenny instead of a nice one, you would then look at yourself in the way of the hurtful comment. "Stacy, you look amazing in that dress!" is a lot more flattering than "Stacy, I think that dress is way too small for you." Again, I don't want to undermine the utility of criticism, perhaps we all need to be notified of certain flaws, but this is for the purpose of demonstrating the affect comments have on ones psyche.

To take this form of social testing we all use to a further degree; even negative comments can have different levels of discouraging baggage attached to them. "Stacy you look fat in that dress" are words that most likely will lead to a fight, and "Stacy, do you want to try something else on?" implies that the dress doesn't look as flattering as another could.

I would consider this bit of social insight to be the first step in a certain mindfulness (in the most non-spiritual form of the word). One which allows you to see how the words of others makes you feel, and how they affect your actions throughout the day. The next realization would be that you're capable of doing this same type of mental manipulation to yourself.

This second type of critiquing shows often when people would like to learn a certain skill, but don't see themselves as somebody who does that thing. For example, there are plenty of people out there who would like to play an instrument or sing, but claim they "have no rhythm" or "aren't musically inclined".

By telling this to themselves, that person separates that skill they would like to learn from the conception of what's possible for them, their persona. They mark it with yellow caution tape and a "He Who Shall Not Be Named" sticker; tossing it over the wall into their own realm of impossibility. Thus, all they've done is succeed in labeling themselves as something that will never be that thing.

This happens everyday, and all the time. We're always evaluating ourselves and putting a label to everything we do. We can't help it. We're human. We judge ourselves by what others say, what we say to others, actions we perform, how we performed those actions, thoughts, thoughts about those thoughts, etc. The list is never ending, and that's because it got us to where we are at today. But the problem with this process of evaluation is that it can separate us from reality. Judging yourself too harshly by what others say and what you tell yourself is like becoming obsessed with a mirror, instead of living (Carl Jung mentions the harmful potential of the archetypal 'judgmental father' in more depth).

When you're stuck inside of the mirror, in this fake reality that you build for yourself, the feeling of insecurity only gets bigger, stronger, and more exclusive over time. Your anxiousness will attack you via self-evaluation.

Take for example, making love to a significant other. When most people are engaged in the act of love making, they want to look appealing so the other person is turned on. This small act, trying to look good for the other person, immediately separates you from the act you're performing in the real world. Once again, you become too obsessed with what's in the mirror.

If you choose to direct your attention to the mirror, then you will become only more lost and anxious. But if you direct your attention outwards, in this case focusing on making the other person feel good instead of how you look, you allow yourself to set down the mirror, becoming more in tune with the reality that is happening now all around you.

In short, in this post I argue that when one directs their attention to the present moment, they free themselves from the binds of anxious thought, thus allowing them to be more loose and present. You free yourself from the mirror. You aren't thinking about the next actions you're going to take, or reflecting on the old ones. Instead, you're simply doing.

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