The True Mirror is the world’s first seamless, non-reversing mirror. Invented by John and Catherine Walters, they discovered that if you take two mirrors and you put them together at right angles and take away the seam, the images bounce off each other and for the first time you see your true reflection; you see what others see.
People have different reactions to seeing themselves for the first time in a True Mirror. Some prefer the image they see, others do not. Some find it quite disconcerting.
I’d have a panic attack if I looked in a True Mirror (you can read about my panic attacks and other embarrassing thoughts in the Wednesday Personal Column I’ve created so I can write about things I don’t want my mom to hear).
But seriously, I know I can’t look in a True Mirror because I can’t be honest with myself. Because I refuse to accept myself as I am. I refuse to accept that I don’t look like Emily Ratajkowski. I refuse to accept that my skin isn’t perfect. I refuse to accept the reality of my being – and it’s made me inauthentic.
Somewhere between the age of 15 and 27 I’ve let my self-awareness strangle me. Somewhere over the last 12 years I’ve lost myself by becoming consumed with myself.
I’m overly self-aware. I can’t enjoy conversations because I’m too aware of how I sound or what I’m saying. I can’t casually walk through a party because I’m too worried about how I look. I can’t look you in the eyes and have a normal conversation if I have a zit on my face because I’m too insecure. All in all, I’m inauthentic and people can tell.
And I’ve realized it’s this inauthenticity that’s making it hard for me to have honest relationships. It’s this inauthenticity that’s making me feel like people don’t understand me. Because I don’t even understand me.
They say that looking in the True Mirror can become a way to spiritual enlightenment. To really look at yourself in this mirror, on an average day, or at a time of great sorrow or great joy, can be a complete revelation. Looking at it every day, even meditating with it, can even become a catalyst for spiritual growth and radical self-acceptance.
How liberating would it be if I could just accept myself and be at peace with it? How nice would it be if I could just walk through the world not worrying about my hair or the bump in my nose.
Caroline McHugh, founder and CEO of IDOLOGY, a movement dedicated to helping individuals and organizations be fully deployed, original versions of themselves, introduces questions that make you wonder not only about yourself and your identity but how you see your sense of self, period.
She believes when you look in a True Mirror you don’t look at yourself, you look for yourself. You look for revelation, not for reassurance.
It’s these deep revelations and personal insights that actually create the powerful indiiduals we know. You know, the people who just have a presence. The ones who walk through the world comfortable and completely secure in themselves. It’s also these individuals who become successful.
These are individuals who have managed to figure out the unique gift that the universe gave them when they incarnated, and then put that at the service of their goals.
When you’re a kid, you’re fantastic at being yourself because you don’t know how to disguise your differentness.
The other place you’re fantastic at being yourself is when you’re older, because you can’t be bothered. You get to that stage in your life where you realize there are more summers behind you than there are in front of you, and everything intensifies. You become more honest; you become less compromising. So you’re going to tell people, “I don’t want the spinach, I’m not going to eat it, I don’t like it. And I don’t like jazz, so you can shut that noise off. And while I’m at it, I don’t like you!” And we call these people eccentric. We call our oldies eccentric. In fact, what they’re doing is being authentic.
So it’s kind of like an hourglass effect. When you’re young you’re great at being yourself; when you’re old you’re great at being yourself; but the bit in the middle is sometimes the most problematic. That’s the bit where you have to socialize; you have to accommodate; you have to adapt.
McHugh goes on to talk about an encounter she had with a truly authentic woman and singer, Jill Scott. She’s just about to go on stage and perform and there’s a French filmmaker who’s filming her. Before going on stage after Erykah Badu, he says to her, “Are you nervous going on after Erykah?” And she says —
“Have you ever seen me perform? I am the Lady Jill Scott. I am a poet, and a singer, and a lot of other things. We all have our own thing — that’s the magic– and everybody comes with their own sense of strength, and their own queendom. Mine could never compare to hers, and hers could never compare to mine”.
Why can’t we be like that? Why can’t we just be happy with how we are?
I don’t have an exact answer to how we can start removing ourselves from our egos but I do know one thing: Maybe this self awareness about our lack of self awareness is the first step towards healing ourselves. Maybe we need to go through this uncomfortable confrontation before we can mature. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m acknowledging that I clearly have some problems.
My plan is to find a True Self Mirror. Not right now but in the coming months. My goal is to become so comfortable in my own skin, so unaffected by my own being that I can see myself for who I really am and not have a nervous breakdown.
For all of you, watch Caroline’s TedTalk on Individuality. Then take some time this week to notice when you’re being inauthentic. Really stop and evaluate yourself. Think about why you’re trying to act the way you are.