Have you ever looked at photos of yourself and reflected on your mood when the picture was taken? Or, even more startling, have you examined your emotional state when you are viewing it? How about when you look in the mirror? What version of yourself do you see? I started thinking about this recently and discovered something pretty amazing. Sometimes I feel (and look) confident and strong. Many times—more often than I want to admit—I feel insecure and weak. This has become more apparent as I turn 50.
The camera lens doesn’t know how I am doing emotionally. Nor does the mirror. Quite frankly, neither of these items have the ability to care. I know my expression can be different based on how I feel at a given moment. Facial expression isn’t what I am referring to. Photos where I feel confident seem to radiate youth and energy. In others, I appear old, tired, and awkward. To be transparent, I never use filters on my photos. I like to keep it real. WYSIWYG
I ask myself question after question – and until now, I didn't have answers.
Is it possible that I see myself in a different light than others do? Do they see the same insecure and old looking “me” in the image that I do? Am I seeing the "real" me now? What do I really look like? What do others see in real life?
The majority of photos I see of myself trigger instant negative self-talk about my appearance. I have been known to stretch photos of myself on the phone screen so I can pick out even the smallest imperfections. How terrible is that? Am I the only one who does this? (See previous post on conquering negative self-talk.) If I don’t get the automatic self-deprecating response under control right away, my mood spirals downward. Sometimes for days. This results in compounded insecurity, sadness and doubt.
The “aha” moment I want to share with you is this:
The emotional state that I am in when the photo is taken affects the image in my mind, not in the mind of others. How I feel about myself when I look at the same photo does the same thing. What other's "see" is their business, not mine. Phew, that is a relief.
The picture I see is the same—yet I can see it differently depending on how I think of myself at the time of viewing it. How others see me is their business, not mine. That is so refreshing.
Which face is mine? I accept that I am no longer in my 40’s. I also know that I have a choice in how I feel about myself. I get to decide how I react to my image.
As I turn 50, I am choosing to accept myself as I am. I fully intend to move confidently into the next decade of my life. By tackling negative self-talk as soon as it rears its ugly head, I will turn my thoughts toward the truth.
The truth is, we are created in God’s image. We are unique and designed to be just as we are. Accepting this is freeing. It may have taken me half a century to discover this, but I am here now.
In blog posts to follow, I'll dive deeper into this journey. Let's reveal our true beauty together.
Cheers to another trip around the sun.
Let me know your thoughts.