Some years ago I came across a poem, written by an American, Dale Wimbrow. It’s called ‘The Guy in the Glass’. With apologies that this is written solely in the masculine tense (it was created in 1934, the same year as my dad, who also generally views the world solely through the masculine tense), It reads (in part):
When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day,
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that guy has to say.
For it isn’t your father, or mother, or wife
Who judgment upon you must pass;
The feller whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.
While it’s often true that many of us shy away from looking at our reflections (some of us for very good reason!) the person we see looking back from ‘the glass’ is fundamentally the one whose honest opinion is the most crucial, whose judgment is the most powerful, and whose friendship can be the most enduring and influential in our lives.
Conversely, of course, self-doubt, self-loathing, low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence, can be the biggest inhibitors to our leading fulfilling lives and moving forward, achieving what we want to and enjoying productive, healthy relationships.
But candid reflection, both physically and mentally, can be the most compelling catalyst for positive change. And while that might mean occasionally summoning up the courage to look at ourselves in a literal mirror, there is a far more effective way of really knowing and appreciating the person we are.
This is by our speaking freely to someone who will listen intently, with both empathy and emotional intelligence, encouraging us to talk about our hopes and dreams, our fears and uncertainties, our wants, our needs and our ambitions. And when this person reflects back to us our thoughts and feelings, connecting with our emotions, it enables us to see and appreciate ourselves in a far more revealing, and usually far more positive, light.
It is, so often, the first significant step in being able to truly be our own best friend, our staunchest advocate and most reliable supporter. And knowing who we truly are and what our motivation is for doing the things we do can mean we have no fears about taking in a look in that glass. So, try to remember the wise concluding words of Mr. Wimbrow:
You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you’ve cheated the guy in the glass.
He’s the feller to please, never mind all the rest,
For he’s with you clear up to the end.
And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the guy in the glass is your friend.