The Image You See – Real Or Imaginary?

Background: Lindsay Harper/ Graphic: Whimsical Walney

Last week, I was pulling into (of all places) the gym parking lot and I was prepared for it to take a little while to find a parking space because the lot continues to be full into February.

So I start scanning the parking lot for an available space and I pull down the first aisle and see there is a free spot at the end of the line far away from the gym entrance.

I quickly take a look down the aisle to see if it appears that there is anything closer but seem to find nothing and since I don’t mind the walk, I take the available parking space.

As I get closer to the entrance of the gym, I look to the left and right of me and it turns out there are lots of available spaces at the front of the line. I was stunned to realize that my mind played tricks on me. It created a mirage about parked cars of all things. I would have opted for something much more exciting if given the chance, but it did get me thinking.

Mind Over Reality?

I’m so used to seeing the lot full these days that even though the reality was that open spaces existed, my mind filled in what it was assumed was true – that all of the spaces were taken.

And if my mind does that with something as simple as a parking space, where else might my mind fill in the blanks for concepts or things that are repetitive or have become engrained? We always hear “mind over matter” but have you taken it to heart in a way that might be hurting instead of helping you?

The Image You See

There are many patterns that people fall into that aren’t beneficial to their physical or mental health. Some examples? Obsessing over the numbers we’ve set as goals and being overly critical what we see as our flaws both of which lead to negative self talk and very low self-esteem.

How many ‘parked cars’ do you see that aren’t actually there when you look in the mirror? Is the image you ‘see’ really a true reflection of what you look like? Or, has your mind filled in those spaces to reflect the default that it already believes (your thighs are still too big, your eyes are still set strangely on your face)?

Not only should you be training your body’s muscles , but you also need to train your mind’s muscles and redirect thoughts and feelings that are detrimental to meeting the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Ditch the mirage and flex your mental muscle to turn criticism of the “bad” into appreciation of the good so that your mind starts to recognize that what you look like (quirks and all) and who you are is valuable .

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