What we see in the mirror
What you see on the outside is not always the full picture. Quite often we tell ourselves things that are not really true such as “look at those wrinkles, you look so old,” “you are fat so you must be ugly,” “who can love you looking like that?” I know I have had thoughts like this at times in my life but I was wrong to say things that were cruel to me.
I admit that as I grew through life as a person, these kinds of taunts got less and less. It also helped that the things that worried me about my appearance got tackled. I asked loved ones and colleagues who have an objective eye “am I being dumb here?” They would be honest and say, “yes Robyn that’s not a big issue, you just notice it more,” and they were right because we all look at ourselves more critically than other people do. I found that setting a realistic goal worked best.
I want to look good for my age, to have strong healthy skin and body. We never stay the same as we were in our 20s, many of us have children which change our bodies. To be expecting the exact body or face of the past is actually quite illogical!
I see clients every day who are suffering from that nagging internal voice that is telling them they do not look good. It is not my job to tell them they are lying about what they see because often they arrive knowing they did not take action earlier. It is my job to listen and confirm issues impartially and then provide a solution. This internal dialogue is normal, but it can sometimes go into overdrive and also be linked to dysmorphia which is a distortion of what is there. The eyes do not see what the reality is, this is common in anorexia sufferers for example.
When I treat a patient we go on a journey together, I have empathy with their concern but can treat it without them feeling guilty that they left it too late. Self blame has its place but punishing yourself for a decision you did or did not make is not helpful to mental wellbeing. We diagnose the issue, treat it and with those positive results so much past agony can be wiped away. I know because I hear it from the wonderful people who come to see me and cry, “all my life I have been bothered by this and now I feel like a new person.” This is what I get up in the morning for!