I changed outfits three times before going to a recent networking dinner. I was working on a project that had some glitches and didn’t get ready to go out until the last minute. Not only didn’t I finish the project, I had to scramble to find something to wear before my friend arrived to drive me to the meeting. I ended up running out of the house in a top I borrowed from my daughter and fastening my shoes and cleaning my glasses in the car, where I remembered, too late, that I forgot to brush my hair.
As you can imagine, I was feeling at loose ends, both mentally and physically, when I arrived at the meeting. I felt rushed and stressed and was sure I looked that way too. The first words I heard at the meeting were from Marilyn who said, “Lisa you are looking very … very ….” and as she was searching for the word, my mind was racing to all the ways I was feeling – rushed, frazzled, a mess. Just as I said to her, “You really are going to have to finish that sentence”, she found the words and said “put together and confident.” I laughed out loud, both from relief and at the irony. I couldn’t have felt any less put together and confident at that moment.
The topic of the speaker that night was Mirror, Mirror – Do You Trust What You See? How appropriate! I saw one thing and Marilyn saw another – our realities were very different until Marilyn changed my reality with her comment. All of a sudden I was no longer a dishevelled mess. I was put together and confident. Cool!
Reality is really perception and perspective. I assumed that I looked on the outside the same way that I felt on the inside. I forgot that I can only see from my own limited perspective, which doesn’t always include all the information required to get an accurate picture. It reminded me of the time I took a drawing class and only had the back view of what appeared to be a male mannequin. However, when I walked around to the other side of the room, I saw very clearly that the front view revealed a large busted female mannequin. Different perspective, different reality!
Other people don’t see all our inner turmoil. Mentally I hadn’t moved on from scrambling to find something decent to wear. Physically I had found a nice outfit, fastened my shoes, cleaned my glasses, and tidied up my hair on my way into the meeting. The story I was telling myself was different from my actual physical reality.
So how could I have done for myself what Marilyn did for me that night? I could have taken a moment to stop and breathe before going into the meeting. I could have looked in the mirror and reminded myself that I was right where I was supposed to be – that all was well in this moment. I could have left the stress of getting ready back where it belonged, in the past. Just like the mannequin, if I had taken the time to look at my situation from another angle I would have seen what was actually there – the finished product, not the chaos it took to get there. Think differently, feel differently. Change your mind, change your reality.