What if all you had to do today to achieve pure happiness would be to stand in front of a mirror, look yourself in the eyes, and completely accept yourself just as you are?
That would be a snap, right? It certainly wouldn’t take all day. Easy task. Just find a full length mirror, take off all your clothes (Oh, did I mention that part–you have to do this naked, so that you are seeing the real you), look yourself in your own eyes, and say the words. I accept myself just the way that I am.
Years ago, I was part of a transpersonal therapy group where that was the assigned homework. We were to do this every day in complete privacy, of course, and report back to the group the next week. The experience was fairly universal for men and women, the older as well as the younger members. Education levels made no difference. Everyone found this incredibly difficult. Some never made it in front of the mirror at all. Some had significant difficulty looking into their own eyes. Some struggled to say all of the words (there are 9 of them). Many experienced unexpected, deep, troubling emotions as they attempted this daily exercise. As it turned out, we spent the next couple of years working with this single exercise.
What surfaced for so many of us were the messages that we had taken on from very early in life that really belonged to someone else. Messages about who we are (often literally, with stories told to children about who their parents were, where they were from, etc); messages about how we look; messages about intelligence or lack thereof; messages about the word “love” and how it was used in our lives to get us to do or not do things that others wanted.
Layer by layer, members of the group were able to identify these messages and who they originally came from, and let them go. You know what began to emerge. For those who stayed in the group and stuck with the practice (many did not–our group became smaller because of this one exercise), a deepening sense of who we were began to emerge.
The fact is that the whole world and every person we encounter is like a giant mirror. We are receiving messages back from the Mirror every day. It is showing us ourselves. If we pay attention to our own reaction to what Life is showing us, we will begin to hear the messages we have accepted about ourselves. When I reject out of hand someone who has come across my path, on some level he/she has shown me myself and some message that I still carry around that really does not belong to me.
If we want to really return, again, to who we are, we can begin by noticing our reactions today. A reaction we consider positive reflects something about ourselves that we have come to accept and own. A reaction we consider negative reflects something about ourselves that we have refused to look at, we secretly believe it to be true and are frightened about that, and we have not bothered to stop and remember who first taught us that we were that way. In other words, our next negative reaction is an opportunity to look in the mirror and begin to see ourselves. You cannot judge someone else “selfish” if you have not once been told that about yourself–and bought into it. Are you really selfish? Is that who you really are? And if you are, then own that. And if you are not, who convinced you that you are? Let go of that.
Any real sense of “happy” depends on a return. Again. To who we are.