Radical Self Honesty. What does that even mean? The idea that used to come into my head was that I need to look at the ugly, powerless, unacceptable parts of myself and be motivated to be “better” by the obviously appropriate self-disgust. If you are confused about where I’m going with this, it’s not there.
We need to see ourselves for who we really are. But how many of us (raises hand) have been shamed by the phrase, “You need to take a good look at your self in the mirror?” What this really means is, “I want you to look in the mirror and believe my horrible projections about you.” But looking in the mirror can be a powerful initiation into a stronger, more potent version of yourself.
When Don Quixote fought the Knight of the Mirrors, he was commanded to, “Drown in the mirrors Don Quixote!” But after a momentary lapse of believing what he was told to believe about himself, he saw not the frail deluded old fool, but the great Knight, Don Quixote. Upon looking in the mirror, he saw everything that was supposedly “wrong” with him, and saw the strength and beauty of his “flaws.” He rose up and defeated the Knight of the Mirrors—simply by refusing to have his reality shaped by the subjective values of others.
When Don Quixote asks us to “Dream the impossible dream,” it’s a mandate to refuse to be limited by what others tell us are our flaws. The beauty of imperfection is the only quality that can allow us to take on the world to live up to our own nobility.
Now when I look in the mirror, I don’t see someone who acted in ways unacceptable to polite society. But rather, I see someone who was strong enough to survive all of the dragons that he had to fight. Sometimes surviving doesn’t look pretty to people who aren’t in your shoes, but as Bruce Springsteen so wisely said, “It’s hard to be a saint in the city.”
Don’t be ashamed of what you have done to survive. Even if you know you can’t keep doing those things, they worked when you needed them to. Let’s look in that mirror together and see that strong human being who knew what to do to survive. We’re not going to change who you are. We’re going to change how you react to discomfort now that you’re not in a fight for your survival.
You’re a survivor. You’re a Knight Errant. You’re a beautifully imperfect human being who can keep showing the world your strength and power. If you don’t believe that sometimes, remember, Don Miguel de Cervantes, Bruce Springsteen, and I believe in you.
Let’s look in the mirror together and find all those parts that aren’t you anymore and bring out the real you—the best version of yourself that you can be right now. I believe in you.
If you’re reading this and see yourself in these words, get in touch. If you know someone else who needs some help rediscovering their true indestructible self, help them get in touch with me. We can do this work together.