“Lookin’ Good!”

We are not often taught to look in the mirror and see everything that’s right with the way we look. Our focus goes to what’s wrong and what we would like to change, tapping into our evolutionary bias towards negativity. What does this do to our confidence? To see only what we don’t like rather than all the amazing feats our bodies accomplish every day? It isn’t good.

During my graduate studies at the University of Utah, a professor shared a story about her preschool-age niece. This little girl walked out of her mom’s closet, in the nude except for a pair of adult-size heels and sunglasses, struck a pose in front of the mirror and stated to herself and all present, “Lookin’ good!”

Our assignment that week was to look into the mirror and say, “Lookin’ good,” with all the swagger of a confident four-year-old. Hokey? The results were incredible. We experienced an instant boost – recognition of all that was going right, and an elevation in mood and confidence. We quieted the infinite loop of self-criticism with a bit of self-love.

Here’s my suggestion: Strut your stuff to the mirror, and say out loud, “Lookin’ good!” Say it like you believe it with every ounce of your being, regardless of whether or not you really do. Make it a daily practice. Use it as a rebuttal to the inner critic. Experiment with how a little dose of preschool wisdom can impact your life.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Often when we find ourselves feeling down, depressed, anxious or not like ourselves, our first move is to try to get out of it. We try to avoid or ignore the pain, fight it with positive thinking, or dive into it so deeply we that we can’t seem to find a way out. We get stuck – stuck running, stuck despairing, or stuck feeling numb.

In my work with clients, it’s at this point that a childhood camp song, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” comes to mind:

“We’re going on a bear hunt
We’re gonna catch a big one!
I’m not scared,
What a beautiful day!
Uh oh! Mud!
We can’t go under it,
We can’t go over it –
Oh no!
We have to go through it!

What we are taught about pain, uncomfortable emotions, and suffering can impact how we relate to these unavoidable experiences. Were you taught that pain is a sign of weakness or defectiveness? Were you taught that pain has value or is a signal to slow down? Were you never taught a thing about emotions?

Much of my work with clients is about making meaning from suffering. It’s a question of, “This is what I’m dealing with. What now?” By changing our relationship to suffering, we can become unstuck. From there, healing begins to flow.

At some point, we run and run until we become stuck in the metaphorical mud – unable to move on despite the best efforts. We can’t beat ourselves up for being there. Maybe you are in that mud now – it’s never too early or too late to get moving.