Before & After: An Inner Self Makeover

Makeovers are part of our mythology– the ugly duckling becomes a swan, the scullery maid goes to the ball and dazzles the prince. My eyes are always drawn to before and after pictures, and I bet a lot of us share a secret desire to be the chosen Cinderella.

Why are makeovers so compelling? Perhaps it’s because you get to become a whole new person. It’s an evolutionary leap. An instant transformation. Poof, you’re someone more fabulous.

We can be our own fairy godmothers with the same life-changing results using the four essential principles of successful makeovers.

1. The Harsh Light of Day
You can always see every pore and blemish in a “Before” picture. Nothing is hidden from view. So apply that to your life. Do an honest appraisal of your current reality. What’s working well? What’s broken, doesn’t suit you, or leftover from a previous life? What do you like and want to keep? What values are honored or ignored in the way your life looks today? Be ruthless but fair. Don’t throw out aspects that are important you. Maybe they just need to be updated, not discarded.

2. Bigger, Brighter, Bolder
“After” pictures are striking because the new look is more vibrant. The colors are more intense. The individual is willing to call attention to herself. Why are so many of us shy about doing that?

Pretend you’re an encouraging friend, one who sees your hidden fabulousness and loudly says “You go girl!” Then imagine all the aspects of your ultimate dream as bigger, brighter, and bolder than ever. Turn the dial up a couple of clicks more than you think you can stand. That’s the way your friend sees you. Now capture that vision and explore the emotions that come up for you. What’s keeping you from being your Technicolor self?

3. Attention
What you don’t see in the magazines is the maintenance required to keep up the new you. Just as the woman in the picture will have to touch up her hair and pluck her eyebrows now and then, you will need to continue to hold yourself as the bigger, brighter you. See it, feel it, taste it. Pay attention and notice your changes. The creative tension between your vision and your current state will pull you to your goal.

4. Reflection in the Mirror
Finally, you need a way to see yourself. How will you know that you’re transformed? Pick some ways to measure your success– honest feedback from your friends and family, acknowledgement from your boss, a certain number of hours per week devoted to creative pursuits or peace and quiet. This is a critical point where many change efforts break down. What gets measured gets accomplished. You need ways to see your accomplishments.

“After” people get what they want. They inspire Wows. And those of us who waved our own wand have the advantage because we aren’t dependent on some team from Hollywood. We know how to do it ourselves.

Read also Wishin’ and Hopin

Wishin’ and Hopin

I like a good challenge now and then. A couple of weeks ago I took on Mother Nature in a test of wills. I attempted to clear two feet of snow from my driveway through the power of positive thinking. I also used deep breathing, relaxation techniques, and openness. When those didn’t work I tried crying and begging. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t seem to fix my plow guy’s truck and get him up my driveway. After five days of misery, helplessness, and another eight inches of snow I finally stopped wishing it would magically take care of itself and I got the names of people with the equipment that could handle it. 120 bucks later I was mobile.

Fast forward two weeks. The weather report says the wind chill will be minus 30 degrees. I’m not worried because we just got a delivery of heating oil. Unfortunately my oil freezes and my furnace stops. Again I start with the deep breathing and the prayers that *this* time when I push the reset button the furnace will stay on. After 24 hours of this the house is kind of chilly. My husband and I reason “Well, we’re going away for two days and it’s supposed to warm up Saturday (from zero to 20).” As I sat staring out the window, and felt that familiar helpless feeling, I caught myself and said, “Wait a second. Why am I not doing something about this?” My rationale for hesitating was to save money and because I felt guilty for not buying fuel that wouldn’t freeze. Those were lousy reasons considering the temperature. I called the furnace people and we were warm again within two hours. As soon as I hung up the phone I felt gleeful.

This was a radical awakening for me. I began to recognize my pattern of facing adversity with hopeless anxiety disguised by positive thinking, breathing, and writing in my journal. Hogwash. I need action. I need to call someone with a working plow truck, or a blow torch and an oil filter. Action feels good– effective action that is. Repeating things that haven’t worked before is not effective. Continually pushing the reset button on the furnace doesn’t move me forward or give me energy.

Since then I’ve been pondering the notion of action in my life. Now that I’m
an expert I have some handy advice on the subject.

a) Recognize the “Wishin’ & Hopin’ state.
Are you hoping something or someone will magically make it all better? Do you have a tight feeling in your chest that you keep trying to eliminate\ with deep breaths? What is the anxiety about? Money? Are your priorities right considering the circumstances?

b) Determine what isn’t working?
Are you banging your head against the same wall again and again? What ineffective actions are you repeating? What haven’t you tried? What are you avoiding?

c) Bring in fresh ideas.
Go outside your regular sphere for a new point of view. Ask a friend for names of plow guys. Brainstorm with your coach. Expand your horizons with a teleclass. Do an internet search. Try something, anything to give you a fresh perspective.

d) Go for it.
Okay, now you’ve got the new idea. Do it. Action will give you energy. Action isn’t everything. And positive thinking is enormously powerful. But for those times when fear clenches you in its icy grip and tries to make you believe there’s nothing you can do, shake it off. You are not helpless, only
inactive.

Read also Don’t Back Down

Don’t Back Down


Wont-Back-Down600I’ve never been surfing (though I’m a big fan of Brian Wilson songs), but that image of a surfer poised on a cresting wave is extremely powerful to me. That’s how I picture a life on path, the life you’re meant to lead. When done right, the surfer makes it look effortless. I know it takes putting yourself in the right place, choosing your moment, standing up on shaky ground, and staying focused and balanced. But catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of the world, with all the energy of the ocean giving you power. Veer off track and the waves come crashing down on you. Blue crush.

So therefore, if I’m struggling then I’m trying to surf in the breakers. I’m tossed and thrown by the waves of circumstance. It’s impossible to succeed because I’m not where I’m supposed to be. My pattern has been to do it with jobs. I often settled for something that didn’t suit me but seemed easy. That ease disappears quickly when the job gets boring and you have to drag yourself to it. If you don’t swim out far enough or you never pick the wave to ride you never get to shoot the curl.

What in your life feels like a constant struggle? What perspective shift might you get if you paddled out a little further and looked at the crashing waves from the other side? Are you watching and yearning from the shore, or out in the calm sea never choosing to take that ride? What would get you to go for it? You know that in the long run it’s easier than resisting. Don’t back down from that wave.

Read also Before & After: An Inner Self Makeover