Saturday, April 25, 2009

Inside Out

Self-Reflection. by ~PolygraphPhotography I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and made an incredibly arrogant comment (because you can do that with some close friends). I said that it looks like I have the perfect life, and everything is great, right? We agreed, I have a wonderful wife, two great kids, a gorgeous house, great job. I am living the American dream and I’ve just got it all together.

My friend Melissa made a comment in a previous post about how she didn’t think my wife and I fought, and was glad to see we did, based on the blog post. Truthfully, in this case, Erin and I very rarely fight. I actually almost fought with anyone I dated. This is really simply because I like to talk a lot, and I want to make sure whoever I’m with is talking too. I talk about what I’m going to do before I do it, as do they, so we talk things out before they even could turn into a fight. I can’t recall a time that we’ve raised our voices to each-other, though we have had a few low grumbles of disagreements when it comes to handling the kids.

Truthfully though, to look at us, I have the perfect marriage and the perfect life.

Except that I don’t.

There are times when it feels like my life is one screw up after another, and I’m just doing what I can to muddle through and cover it up as necessary.

I also often recognize just how much of our lives are lived on a very thin wire, and just a small thing can cut (or just move) that wire so that we fall off making our world entirely different and impossible to go back. I sometimes wonder what it will be that tips be over the side, and am fearful of whether I could really handle it.

I have a million different little problems going on behind the scenes… just like every single one of you.

Around freshman year in high school things were probably at their most turbulent. I had a few acquaintances, but came off of a crappy couple years in middle school (did anyone have a good time in 6-8 grade) and wondered how life could get better. some new friends and reading changed that all around.

Something clicked where I began simply looking in the mirror each morning and telling myself it was going to be a great day, people like me, and I have a great life.

See, when we see someone make a statement, we subconsciously internalize it. When our favorite actor in a TV show is having a down time, we feel it ourselves. When the ending comes and everything is all right, we feel better about ourselves.

The same is true when someone tells you what they think about you, even in general terms. For example:

I’ll tell you that while you have the potential to be a great friend, we just don’t talk often enough or about anything serious. When we do talk it’s all trivial and I wish it could be more, but you’ve just let me down…

Feel just a tinge crappier about yourself? Funny isn’t it, since I didn’t have anyone in mind when I wrote that, but most people would feel like they’re just not a good friend, to me or most people.

The flip side is true of course:

You are amazingly wonderful, and really make a difference in my life. You’re more beautiful than you give yourself credit for, but more than that, you take an effort to make life better for other people. When I think of you I smile, I smile a lot. Thanks for letting me be a part of your life.

Again, complete generalities, but I’d bet you connected with something there and it lifted your spirits a bit. It could have applied to anyone, even people I don’t know personally. As a side, this is how both horoscopes and marketing work.

Knowing all this I found that looking in the mirror and simply hearing a voice say good things about me, and seeing my own face say those good things, changed everything. The inside stuff is still there, and I still have problems, but outwardly I began to change. Over time, and repetition, even the inside changed a bit as well, and my life trended toward the positive.

When I don’t talk myself up, which I haven’t done in a while, I tend to keep on that perfect facade for the world to see. Inside though all the little things going on just come tumbling back and life just gets a little bit harder.

Therapists are great at getting the insides straightened out, by the way, and I really think everyone should see some sort of psychologist regularly. It’s just a great way to find your center when you feel like you’ve fallen off that thin wire.

So, are your insides a bit of a mess? Is your outside? It’s definitely worth looking in the mirror and reminding yourself how incredibly special you are.  God has made you into the perfect shape and personality for this moment in time, go let the world relish in it.

Peace,
Tom

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