There is something that my Dad taught me, that just returned to my mind today. It was this ability to unsee. He knew that when I looked in the mirror, I would always see this slightly overweight person filled with other flaws that I judged ruthlessly. I don’t remember his exact words, but I do remember that he implied to me that what I was seeing in the mirror was not what he saw. It was a pretty earth-shattering concept to me that even though I saw something unworthy in the mirror, it was not the real me. That was the little bitty planting of a new seed thought.
The next time I looked in the mirror, I had a glimpse that maybe, just maybe, there was a flaw in the projection equipment, not in the image itself. I have had to learn to unsee the limitations that my mind continually tries to project into the images reflected back to me in the mirror. I have had to unlearn the habits of judgement, criticizing and hatred that somehow became my addiction. I truly feel that my body hatred addiction was the precursor for my eventual alcohol addiction. It doesn’t matter if I was addicted to a substance or to a belief system, I was addicted and that is that.
Today, I am a yoga instructor, and one of the things that I noticed on my way to this path was how much my own yoga practice began to shift me out of this negative way of seeing myself. Because of my low self-esteem and body image as a child, I tried to control it away with exercise. I worked out every day, usually running at least 2 miles. I also controlled my eating, but no matter how much I tried, I was never happy with the results. While I teetered on the edge of an eating disorder, I gratefully did not jump all the way into the severity of anorexia or bulimia.
Learning to unsee the image that stares at me in the mirror, starts with the realization that the space between my eyes and the projection of me that reflects back is distorted by a defect in my mind. It is much like the distortion of being nearsighted or farsighted. It has a trigger in my mind, and therefore it has to be corrected in my mind as well. I can’t go to the doctor and get a pair of glasses that helps me to see myself the way I really am, but dammit that would be so much easier! I can unsee that old image, that old way of seeing myself, but like anything, I have to do it from the inside out. I have to mentally create a new “muscle” memory, a new channel to tune in to that allows my brain to adjust the focus so that I can see clearly and unsee the old way of seeing myself.