When I was a child, a traveling circus came to town, and my parents took me to see the show. My favorite part of the side show was the house of mirrors. It was fun to see the distorted reflections of my body. A completely flat mirror gives a true reflection, but a curved mirror reflects a false image. The type of distortion in the mirror determines the type of distortion in the reflected image.
Each mirror produced a different type of distortion. Some mirrors made my chest look big and strong, and I immediately felt powerful. Some made me look as tall as Goliath, and others transformed me into a midget. Some made my head as big as a basketball, and others shrunk it down to the size of a golf ball. Some made me look fat, and others made me look skinny.
I enjoyed the house of mirrors because I knew what I was seeing wasn’t the real me. The reflection was a distortion of who I was, and I had no problem distinguishing between the real me and the one I saw in the mirror.
Later on, I discovered that I spent my entire life living in a house of mirrors. I found out that emotions are a reflection of the thoughts that cascade through my mind. Each thought that I think takes me on a trip to my personal house of mirrors.
My mind isn’t a quiet place. Thoughts shout and screech and echo as they go round and round my mind. Eventually the swirling dervish of thought stands in front of the mirror of my mind. Suddenly magic happens, and I feel emotion. When I look in the mirror, I don’t see myself, I feel myself. If I like what I see, I feel good. If I don’t like it, I feel bad.
Each thought stands in front of your mental magic mirror and says, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, am I OK after all?” The mirror then tells you what to feel. But there is a BIG PROBLEM because many of the mirrors are seriously distorted. This house of mirrors rarely gives a true reflection of who you are or of the world in which you live. The reality is that how a thought makes you feel depends on which mirror you stand in front of.
Your personal house of mirrors is full of distorted mirrors. Virtually every one of them has some degree of distortion, and you may not realize it’s there. You can be sure of one thing, none of them exactly reflects the world as it is, or you as you are.
When you were young, your parents and culture placed those mirrors in your mind, and as you grew older, you placed some of them there as well. Now you face the challenge of deciding which mirrors give true reflections and which give distorted ones.
For every fact of life, there are a thousand different emotions that can be reflected in the mirrors of your mind. The emotions you feel depend upon which mirror you are looking in.
If your life has been exceptionally difficult, if you have been a victim of severe abuse and a great deal of emotional damage has accumulated, your mental mirrors will be extremely distorted, and your reflected emotions will make your life even more miserable. Those emotions may seem so unbearable that you may think you want to die. At least if you were dead, those horrible emotions would no longer torture you.
Although there are thousands of mirrors lurking in the dark recesses of your mind, a few of those mirrors are common to people who suffer from mood disorders and depression. These distorted mirrors have been given a fancy name – they are called cognitive distortions. Cognitive therapy has listed at least ten major mirrors that distort the emotions that spring up in your mind. It’s useful to look at those ten mirrors and examine them in detail so you can learn to distinguish between a distorted mirror and one that gives a true reflection of who you are and the world in which you live.
Your challenge is to learn how to walk through your personal house of mirrors and enjoy the trip in the same way that I enjoyed walking through the house of mirrors at the circus when I was a child. You decide whether you will allow your personal house of mirrors to become a horror show that makes you miserable.
If you learn to recognize the distorted mirrors and call them by their names, the mirrors lose their power. You will be able to walk through your house of mirrors and enjoy the trip, free from the twisted thinking and distorted emotions that formerly controlled your mind.
Some mirrors are so distorted that they deserve to be shattered. Superstitious people believe that when you break a mirror, it brings seven years of bad luck. The good news is, when you break the destructive mirrors associated with depression, you have good luck for the rest of your life.
Unfortunately, some of the mirrors are indestructible. They will remain until the day you die. The only way to deal with their reflections is to ignore them.
Each time a destructive emotion is reflected in your heart and mind, you must closely examine the mirror from which it came. God gave you a mind and He expects you to use it. You have the power to look at all the mirrors that create your emotions. You need to get up close and personal with each of those mirrors and see whether they give an accurate reflection.
Good mirrors give true reflections. Distorted mirrors give distorted ones and can’t be trusted. When negative and depressing emotions poke up their ugly heads, it’s time to check out the mirrors in your mind.
Cognitive therapy helps you recognize distorted mirrors. It’s worth putting a name on the mirrors that regularly cause problems. Once you name them, it’s easier to destroy them, or at least ignore their reflection.
The only mirrors you can trust are those that are undistorted. They give you a reality check and reflect the world as it really is, and you as you really are. Their reflection squares with the facts of life.
If you are anxious, fearful, and depressed, you are standing in front of the wrong mirrors, and as long as you stand there, you will experience distorted and destructive emotions. So take out your sledge hammer and have some fun destroying the mirrors that have been trying to destroy you. It’s time for you to strike back; it’s time to strike a blow for freedom.
LET THE DEMOLITION DERBY BEGIN!
If you have ever been to a demolition derby, you have seen dozens of cars relentlessly smashing into each other trying to put the other cars out of commission without destroying their own vehicle in the process. The smashing and bashing continues until only one car is left running around the track. The last car still moving is declared the winner.
You are about to participate in a demolition derby, and hopefully you will emerge the winner. In this demolition derby, either you destroy the distorted mirrors, or they destroy you. It’s you against them. You have permission to destroy all of the mirrors that fill your mind with twisted negative emotions.
Let the demolition derby begin as you examine the most common mirrors that afflict people suffering from mood disorders and depression.