35. Through the Looking Lens

Hello my friends! Are your days starting to get dark faster and is the weather starting to cool off?  We are just barely starting to feel cooler days from the heat wave that rolled through.  That was crazy wasn’t it!  Now it’s getting really cold!

Okay, the latest news is that my daughters have decided to go to aesthetician school, which I’m quite thrilled about because I love taking care of my skin.  It’s fun to hear what’s being taught.  Because she’s back in the classroom, my daughter realized that she needed to update her prescription glasses, so we went over to Costco to check out their lenses.  While we were waiting, I could overhear the salesmen talking to a guy about his transition lenses and all the different color options he had and the benefits to each color. I had no idea how technical we’ve become.

He had four options he could choose from: brown, grey, polarized and green.  If he went golfing and fishing more, he was going to want the brown tint, but if he was going to be snow skiing or in places where the possibility of glare was higher, he’d want the polarized.  The grey blocked the sunlight out more and the green were more for general purpose.  Who knew?  Well I mean I didn’t!  I honestly thought that the colors were just a style preference.

Did you know that we all wear invisible glasses with lenses that reflect how we view the world?  The way we see things, how we perceive different situations is based on these invisible lenses we are wearing.  You know the saying, “looking through rose-colored glasses”?  It means that we are seeing things with a rosy, positive outlook or maybe we’re not seeing any of the negative possibilities.  When someone’s head-over-heels in love, they are sometimes said to have rose-colored glasses on because they aren’t seeing anything negative about their partner.  They are essentially blind to their imperfections.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have the ability to put on and take off different sets of lenses when we were in different situations of life?  We actually can, however we first need to be aware that we’re wearing lenses.

Have you thought about what kind of lenses you might be wearing in different situations and where you may be blind to some possibilities? How did you grow up?  What were your circumstances?  Typically, someone who grew up with very little money, looks through the lenses of life much different than someone who had all their needs met and then some.  For example, those who grew up during the great depression, were more likely to save, clean, and reuse plastic Ziploc bags because they lived with a lot of uncertainty and scarcity.  And I know that they still did that even though they were now living in an abundant time.  Versus us today, who have an abundance of options, we easily throw away used baggies without a thought of if maybe we shouldn’t because we won’t have enough later.  

Although, I admit that when toilet paper was scarce a couple years ago, and there was a limit of one per purchase, I was at the store practically every day stocking up.  The irony is, we actually had a nice supply of toilet paper before that, however, we didn’t count on mice deciding to build apartments out of our carefully curated mountain of softness, gnawing tunnels throughout our stacks and kicking out the shreds of soft tissue for us to pick up later.  Even though their visit wasn’t good timing, I was impressed with their artwork and resourcefulness.  Anyway, I think we kind of had an experience of feeling lack, and still today each time I go to the store, I wonder if there will be a shortage of something weird that I never thought would be out of stock like jalapenos or ramen.  So that’s how my pre-pandemic lens prescription has changed, based on my experiences and current environment.

The invisible lenses that we wear are based on what information we are taking in.  It’s usually tinted with how we grew up and what life experiences we had.  Some of the experiences were self-imposed and some of them were imposed upon us, but each one changed the prescription slightly to become how we are seeing life today. We have all kinds of lenses too.  We have relationship lenses, body image lenses, lifestyle lenses and so forth.

For example, today it’s easy to have a social media lens.  Is that social media worthy? Lets get a picture of what I’m doing so everyone can see.  Yes, that’s a really black and white description of it and there’s many more greys in between that are more realistic like preserving memories for our future and keeping in touch with friends easier. Did you see the remake of the movie Jumanji?  I can remember giggling about the portrayed popular girl, Bethany, when she was trying to get the perfect selfie of her which she captioned “just rolling out of bed, UGH” and she had her selfie stick and rearranged the coffee mug and after she tried a couple poses, she had to ask herself if it was cute before she posted it.  Now, I know that they take artistic liberty when they shoot these scenes and they are often going beyond what’s normal to make it funnier, but what about the kids who are watching for entertainment and don’t have that filter on to censor out the fact that it’s over the top?  What are they thinking when they watch this?  Oh, that’s how they do it.  And if they are looking for popularity, they may tie in, this is what I must do to be popular.     

This was me as a kid.  Watching and noting what needed to be done to gain acceptance.  And because I spent years building those neural pathways of watching and learning, I know that I have to be careful of who I follow and what I choose to see on social media.  Even though I know that old way of thinking isn’t true, if I’m not constantly censoring and filtering what I’m seeing and realizing when I’ve slipped on those habitual lenses I easily get sucked into the comparison trap of thinking everyone else’s life is so much better than mine.   Our brains are preprogrammed to seek acceptance, but some of us are more susceptible than others on how deep and to what lengths we’ll seek it.

What do you consider beautiful?  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?  Esther Konig wondered the same thing.  She spoke at a Vancouver Tedx talk about what beauty is.  She related how one day she noticed how many digital artists were marketing their work by offering to make raw photos better.  So she had this idea. She wondered what would happen if she took this very bland, plain photo of her with her hair in a bun and no makeup on and sent it out to as many people that she could.  She noticed that the offering artists were from all over the world, so she made sure that she sent her photo to multiple cultures. She sent it to over 50 different people including people from India, China, United States, Morocco, Argentina, Pakistan and the Philippines.  Depending on their beauty lenses is how they changed her photo.  In some pictures she had bushy eyebrows in others they were pencil thin. In some they completely changed the shape of her face and the style of clothes she had on.  Her skin was lighter, her skin was darker, her hair was longer and then it was shorter, or even no hair because it was covered by a head covering worn by Muslim women.  A couple of the photos didn’t even look like her when they were done.

We each have our own ideas about every aspect of our lives.  What makes a good parent, what makes a good teacher, what makes a good student, what makes someone successful, who’s right and who’s wrong, who’s acting appropriately, who’s deemed as toxic or trouble.  Our view of the world is based on the lenses we are wearing.  And this doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with how we see things, but that also doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with how other people see things either, right?  It’s all our perception.  It’s all our opinion. 

Lenses aren’t a bad thing.  They aren’t a good thing.  They just are.  They are what makes our perceptions seem like reality.  We all wear them. It’s good to know this though because it helps us separate opinion from fact.  Sometimes our reality seems so real that we think it’s a fact.  That everyone else in the world would agree.  A fact is something like the temperature outside.  We can all look at a temperature on a thermostat and agree that it’s 95, 105, 115 degrees outside; thank you heat wave. But we wouldn’t all say it’s a fact that 80 degrees is weather too warm to wear a jacket.  People who experience extremely hot summers have thinner blood so it’s not uncommon to see those people wearing jackets in 80-degree weather.  My winters can get really cold so since my internal temperature runs warmer, I don’t ever see myself wearing a jacket when it’s 80 outside. So, yes, it’s a fact when the thermostat says 80 degrees outside.  It’s our own story that we’re telling ourselves on whether or not we need a jacket because it’s too cold or too hot.

So when we have label lenses on and we perceive someone as a toxic person, we think this to be very true based on the information our brains have downloaded from all the external sources that we’ve internalized.  We think their personality is toxic, is a fact like reading a thermometer, but it’s not.  We couldn’t take that person to the doctors, run a few blood tests and be given a diagnosis that their personality is toxic.  Does that make sense?  So my thinking they are toxic is based on my previous experiences and the lenses I’m wearing.  And I’m free to think that way, but I want to double check the results I’m getting when it comes to interacting with them so I’m showing up as the person I want to be.

And when we’ve tried and failed and tried and failed at tried and failed, what kind of failure lenses are we wearing that has us thinking, “Ok, there’s another way to avoid, let’s try again,” or thinking, “I’m such a loser, I’ll never get this right.”  It’s the lenses we’re wearing that changes everything.  For the person who’s neural pathway says failure is just a hurdle on the road to success, they aren’t going to take it as a personal hit.  But the person who’s pathway is deeply etched with a lack of self-worth, failure will seem like it’s the end of the world, I’ll never measure up, I’m never going to be as good as them.

For the people who lose weight only to find it again over and over, their prescription may change to see that diets don’t work and have plenty of proof to back that statement up.  Or they may start to believe they just aren’t meant to be a thin person.  But maybe their prescription is saying that thin is the most important thing.  What if their lenses saw healthy eating is the key to feeling good not feeling good is only accomplished by looking good.  Maybe, “why try?” would change to “why stop trying?” if the perspective of feeling healthy was the intended result instead of looking a certain way.

So, we all have lenses.  Why is this important to know, Amber?  What I want you ask yourself is this, are my lenses serving me?  Are the lenses I’m looking through allowing me to get the results I am wanting in life?  Are they allowing me to have fulfilling relationships with others or are they causing a bit of a gap between us?  Is my lens allowing myself compassion for my messy parts?   Do my lenses keep me from moving forward because I’m held back by the fear of the outcome more than the fear of regret? 

Whenever you aren’t liking the results you are getting in life, I invite you to step back a moment and try to determine if what you’re experiencing is a fact, or is it a perspective that has been tainted by prescription lenses that maybe you didn’t realize were there.   Can you open yourself up to be more curious about why you are seeing it this way and why you act certain ways?  Not to judge yourself, but to find understanding of why so you can know where to begin in changing the lens prescription.  We can ask ourselves, what lens am I looking at this with?  What would be causing me to look at it this way?  Is there a different set of lenses that would serve me better?  What do I desire most?  What lenses do I need to get that?  Being aware that we all look through lenses can hopefully help us find more compassion for ourselves and for others.

Ok, so, first just be aware that you may be wearing lenses and that’s okay, it’s not a bad thing.  Second, decide if these lenses are serving you or not and third figure out how you want to show up in the world and the lenses you’re going to need to create that.

I hope you have a brilliant day and remember, you are loved!


If you’re looking for a life coach, I’d love to be yours.  If you want to lose weight, better your relationships, or need help with crafting your confidence, I’ve got you!  go to myinnerlove.com and sign up for a free mini-session today.

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