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PBS' 'This Emotional Life': Objective vs. Subjective: How to See the Real You

In reality, we don't really perceive ourselves or the physical as they are; we're only seeing our version of reality, not what's really there.
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Look in a mirror and one thing's sure; what we see is not who we are. -- Richard Bach

It's 5:55 AM and I'm turning over to start the day. I stumble to the bathroom and begin to prepare myself for what may come. I used to dread those first 15 minutes because they told me whether the day was going to be "good" or "bad." To be honest, some mornings those thoughts are still present; but I'm finding that the difference now is the fact that I have something else to think about: It doesn't matter what reflection I see in the mirror today because it's the same as it was yesterday. I've been experiencing the world with this reflection my entire life. Those first 15 minutes are just a starting point, not a deal-breaker. I don't have to linger on subjective perceptions, and neither do you. If you struggle with this, I think it's time for an objective-upgrade.

When you wake in the morning and finish splashing your face, what is the first thing you think to yourself? Is it "Damn, I am really looking great today" or "Wow, I'm ready to roll"? Doubtful. But if you are one of the few, and I mean few whose reality is this, awesome! However, for the thousands (and maybe millions) of us who aren't blessed with that way of constant positive thinking, I have to ask you this: Do you immediately view what makes you unique, exceptional or incomparable? Probably not. We look for the flaws, faults, mistakes, negatives and things we want to fix or change. We never look at ourselves in appreciation for the extraordinarily perfect work that God has done. Instead, we look for how we want to "tweak" His incredible artwork.

In reality, we don't really perceive ourselves or the physical as they are; we're only seeing our version of reality, not what's really there. Objectively examining ourselves is quickly brushed aside in our society. We have to look like this person or that person or have a certain quality to be deemed "okay."

My generation has often been referred to as "Generation Me." While I completely agree that taking care of yourself comes first, fame and fortune are stressed too much. When we look at the television, we are told by a variety of shows that if we walk, talk, dress or sculpt ourselves to the likings of the characters, then we, too, can have our 15 minutes of fame. The end result? When we receive negative feedback from our peers, or our attempts to emulate fail, we hold to and believe that we are not worthy. We believe in the subjective rather than the objective in our lives.

Our perceptions are tinted by our life experiences. For example, if your family is "picture perfect," you may be viewing your surroundings through "picture perfect glasses." We're all different, based on how our experiences have formed us and how our intelligence makes meaning out of all we experience. When your self-image is whole, you feel good and are safe in your thoughts. When something takes place in your life that emotionally leaves a mark, you can become self-doubting. If you've been abused, condemned or teased, you may suffer the impact of that emotional pain and feel shame, ultimately masking your true reflection. If you're trapped in a subjective reflection, hating some part of you, it's because you think that you are that disgusting, unworthy, fat, ugly, stupid or incapable reflection.

Nothing could be farther from the truth!

Unless you are able to see yourself in the objective and in a positive light, no diet, no work out and no amount of reassurance will make you believe something you haven't truly grasped. In order to change the subjective core beliefs that limit you, you have to transform the reflection that you have inside of you. The good news is that this self image is entirely impersonal. If you don't like the physical or what you see in the mirror every morning, try to view your opinions and reflection in a new light.

When you uncover the positive and objective view of yourself, your true spark may only burn minutely at first. But the opportunity for that spark to grow into a raging fire is ever-present. The seed of your life -- who you really are, who you're about to grow into and who you have always been -- is now brave enough to break through the surface for the first time.

It takes courage, time and commitment. You'll continuously face society's standards, critical opinions and your old subjective views. For us to be ourselves, we don't need anything. We just need to be alive and breathing. We need absolutely nothing for us to be ourselves.

I hope you can stop and evaluate your thought process and develop an understanding of why you might be at the point of questioning your true reflection. Determine what is really important in your life right now.

It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment. -- Marcus Tullius Cicero

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