Try the mirror test
In our society we are conditioned to believe that we can achieve things quickly, almost overnight, but real change takes a long time. It begins with small steps that become the journey of a lifetime.
We repeat our bad habits over and over for years. We cannot stand apart and see them as others do. We have character traits we don’t like but think we can’t do anything about. We rationalise that, like everyone else, we’re not perfect. But actually, perfection is not the goal. Improvement is the goal. And improvement comes from a series of small changes in behaviour.
I would like to share with you a true story of a strong and beautiful woman who was able to not only completely change herself, but also her husband (no smiling, please!):
“I am 72 years old, but I began the most important journey of my life at the age of 47. It was a long and rocky road that led to this moment. I was shopping for a new dress for our wedding anniversary. I looked in the mirror and saw a stranger. Was this really me? Who was this huge woman? I began to cry. I realised I was standing on the edge of a precipice. It was at this moment I saw with the utmost clarity that it was time to radically revise my life. I began by changing my food habits. I had gained so much weight, but I was ignoring how unhealthy I felt. I had accepted my situation as if it was the normal progression of life. Grow older, gain weight. I realised with a sense of panic that I had to detox my body.
“I left the store, walked down the street and bought several books on proper nutrition and how to cleanse my system. I began reading them as soon as I got home. For the first time I looked hard at the importance of proper nutrition. I went to my kitchen and threw out most of what was there. I realised the number one priority in my life was my own body.
“In the first year I lost 22 pounds. Over the next few years, another 36.
“During this process of working on my body, I had another insight. I had to start working on my soul as well. Where and how did I start?
“I made up an honest list consisting of my vices and shortcomings, which I wanted to change. The list was long. I stopped at 20: offensiveness, complaining, jealousy, envy, despondency … I looked almost in disbelief at this list and thought, how did it happen that I have so many shortcomings, and how did I live with them all my life?
How difficult it must be for my close friends and loved ones to live with me! If I took offence at every occasion, if I sulked and did not speak to them for several days, why did they put up with me? I think that this first profound analysis of myself was incredibly important. I understood what traits I had to work on and what goals I needed to achieve.
“I began to observe myself and my reactions closely. I started to control them and not let them take possession of me. When I wanted to take offence and cry, as I used to do, I walked away, closed my eyes and began to breathe deeply. This helped me to calm down and relax. Instead of holding a grudge and not talking to my husband for several days, I immediately spoke to him about what I did not like and why I felt disturbed. It was the first time we began listening to and understanding each other. We began to learn the art of compromise.
“I was helped by affirmations I created. Here are some examples: Rejoice in life; if you feel bad, help someone who feels worse; I radiate love; my future is bright and beautiful. I pronounced them silently with strong feeling and a smile. Most of all, I forgave myself and then my husband and finally, other people.
“My world outlook changed. I learnt to transform negative thoughts into positive ones. I started to look at problems with detachment and to resolve them with calm. Gradually, like gravity, I pulled my husband into this world. He freed himself from anger and depression. He took an interest in other people’s problems and began to help them.
“I began to live in delight, to enjoy life, every moment of it. I stood firmly on this path and stubbornly walked forward. Each morning I look closely in the mirror. It is a daily test I insist on. I ask myself if I am happy with the person I see. On the best days, I get a glimpse of my inner self. To my delight, I find that inside me are love, tenderness, and hope.”
• Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her here: ninalondon.com
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