Once upon a time, in a beautiful valley, there was a gorgeous nymph named Echo who loved to talk. Unfortunately a spell of sadness was cast on her, which affected her ability to carry on conversations and she was only able to softly repeat the last few words spoken to her.
It also happened that the most attractive young man in all the land also lived in this valley. Narcissus was so beautiful and charming that all the ladies fell in love with him instantly. Unfortunately for them, he was so madly in love with himself that he ignored them completely.
One day, Narcissus was hanging out with some friends and saw a pretty flower. After stopping to pluck it, he lost sight of his friends. In pursuing them, he walked past the tree Echo was resting. Instantly, Echo fell in love with him. She could not bear to lose sight of him, so she followed him without letting him know (creeper!). She wanted to speak to him, but because she was under the spell, she could not.
While Narcissus was searching through some trees to find his friends he said, “Is anybody here?”
“Here!” Echo answered faintly.
Narcissus looked around not knowing who the voice belonged to, and said, “Where are you? Come here!” He looked down at his reflection in a still pond and saw the most beautiful person he had ever seen. He couldn’t tear himself away from the appearance in the water. Narcissus became so absorbed by his reflection that he stopped eating and wasted away. After he died, his body became a flower that was named after him, Narcissus. (Alternative ending is that he fell into the water trying to be with the person in the water and then drowned).
What does this story have to do with anything?
It may surprise you to realize how many times you check yourself out in a day and how this affects your thoughts and feelings about yourself. I once worked with a personal trainer who was incessantly checking herself out, fixing her bangs, and trying to make her lips look bigger while “training” clients. It was pretty clear that she was obsessed with her appearance but I don’t think she’s alone.
Last week I stayed with my sister in Halifax in a room with no mirrors and I realized how liberating it is not to have a mirror on the wall. I found that I spent less time evaluating and thinking about how I looked and focused more on how I felt and spending time doing things that I enjoyed with people I care about. While I think it is important to give yourself a once over before you head out the door or while putting on makeup, too much mirror time can be detrimental.
I don’t consider myself particularly narcissistic but on Monday I took down the antique mirror hanging on my bedroom wall and turned my little French vanity table into my desk. Not only do I now have a great little home office space (way better than the floor lol), but I care less about how I look, allowing me to focus my energy and my thoughts on other things 🙂
The next time you find yourself evaluating your reflection in the mirror, be aware that you are doing it and notice what you are thinking. You might be surprised at what you find and it may motivate you to change your self talk or even take down a mirror or two.