How we see ourselves is very different from how others see us- this continually surprises me. Do we really see ourselves as we are or see ourselves as powerless, ugly or even useless? Or, do we see ourselves as powerful, beautiful and creative?
This week I have been down with several health problems to add to my chronic illness. I have felt let down by the medical system which prescribes drugs without checking the effect on a patient with long term conditions. And I have been angry and felt useless- unable to work. I felt ugly too. At times I sat and stared at the screen, or at a piece of paper without as much as typing or writing a single word. To inspire myself, I wrote to a colleague who is struggling with cancer which seems to come back again and again. She has to wear a ‘bag’ to drain liquids and go for chemotherapy at least once a week. Yet to me, she looks lovely and elegant. I asked to interview her about how she balances work and health and looks so fabulous. I thought this might inspire ( or even kick) me back into work.
My jaw dropped when she wrote back to me, ‘One of the things that I would love to talk to you about is how you balance being a high-achieving woman with your health issues.’ What, me?! Was she really talking about me? It took me some time for this to sink in. I wanted to protest- ‘No that is not me, you’ve got it all wrong!’ Then it occurred to me that perhaps she might have thought the same way about herself when she got my email. That she looked at me very differently from how I saw myself. That we might be seeing mirror images of each other- each person thinking that the other was somehow better or more fortunate. Yet we are both powerful, beautiful and creative. That I had done for her what she had done for me.
So this is what I now do. I keep a small pocket mirror near me and whenever I feel down, I look at my reflection say, ‘You are powerful, beautiful and creative!’ This is very powerful and magical! As Nichiren says, “When you bow to a mirror, the reflected image bows back”.