I hate the sound of my own voice.
In my head, I have a smooth, late-night DJ quality voice that makes panties drop. Listening to it recorded? I want to stab that guy in the sphincter with an epileptic wolverine.
I’m on the radio every week. I have no idea how that happened.
Technology having a negative impact on psychology is not a new thing. Trolling Facebook makes you feel bad? Duh! The first time Zog the trog realized he could see his reflection in a pool of untreated, dysentery-inducing water he saw flaws in what stared back.
Starting around eight millennia ago, our first advancement in reflective technology was polished obsidian. We moved on to polish copper roughly 6,000 years ago, and Christ was less than a century anno Domini when humans in what is now Lebanon began to use metal-coated glass for popping zits.
When I shave my face, I don’t wear a shirt.
I see my reflected torso often. Sometimes I like what I see, and sometimes not.
But there is something you must know about what you see in a mirror: It is not your future; it is your past.
Whenever I listen to my recorded voice, I am listening to the past. Whenever I look in the mirror, I am looking into the past. It is just another recording. Explained literally and not hippie-deodorant-optional-commune-bullshit style, there is an infinitesimally measurable amount of time it takes for one’s image to travel from their body to the mirror and back to one’s retinas for processing in the visual cortex, so it’s not a real-time image.
Whoa. That’s deep.
No, it’s not. Stop being stupid. This is what’s deep:
You are more than what you see in the mirror. The mirror image is a recording that shows little mercy and fills you with doubt, and just like the voice recording, you zero in on the weirdness and the imagined flaws that make you dislike the playback.
Want to feel more at ease with what you see? Get in the shower, get the temperature right, and look down. No matter where you’re at in your journey, you’re probably going to like what you see more from looking down than looking in the mirror.
But it doesn’t end there. The light that reflects from your body and creates images inside your brain and the brains of others is but one small parameter of what you have going on from the neck on down.
Perhaps you don’t like your body. Perhaps you’re displeased with what you’ve seen in the mirror and focus on limitations rather than possibilities. If yes, I want you to do an exercise.
Feel the water flow. Remember, you’re still in the shower. Feel it fall across your shoulders and down your chest and arms and back. Now, imagine that puppies are on fire.
Puppies are on fire and you’re the only one who can save them. You need to dash. Those arms and legs need to race and lift and carry then race some more and save the puppies.
If you needed to, if puppies were at stake, what could your body do? More than you think. It could do lots of things. It could save cute and furry little quadrupeds.
Your body is more than your reflection. Your body can perform and experience things like showers and sex and warmth and exertion. It can make food and eat food bring people food. If you’re a lactating mother, you can literally make food. It can walk places and lift things and plant things and move things.
It can do so much more than give off a reflection, and it’s about time you appreciated that.
The more you use that body for things other than looking in the mirror and perhaps feeling about the image the way you feel about your recorded voice, the more you’ll come to appreciate it. Perhaps you’ll also want to put better things inside it for fuel, and use it a bit more, and that image may change. Or it may not.
It’s okay to want to change the reflection that stares back. It’s okay to take pride in those changes. It’s not a good idea to base your life and your happiness around that reflection, because there is only so much you can do, and no matter how hard you try, the mirror will always find a way to show you something you’re not happy with.
Appreciate your body. I know the puppies do.
UPDATE: No puppies were harmed in the writing of this post. Your body didn’t let them down. You got there in time and rescued them all before they were even so much as singed.
James S. Fell is an internationally syndicated fitness columnist for the Chicago Tribune and author of Lose it Right: A Brutally Honest 3-Stage Program to Help You Get Fit and Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind, published by Random House Canada. He also interviews celebrities about their fitness stories for the Los Angeles Times, and is head fitness columnist for AskMen.com and a regular contributor to Men’s Health.