Join Now and Get Started Today

 The Other Side of the Glass

By Phil Kaplan

It’s a Sunday morning.  You wake up recounting the items of worry that flittered around in your brain as you tried to fall asleep.  There are money concerns, relationship uncertainties, and more doubt about your future than you’d ever willfully admit.  You rub the sleep from your eyes, and shuffle to the bathroom, and there it is . . . the first image to greet you since . . . well, since you first learned to brush your teeth.   The image is an exact replica of you moving closer as you approach the glass that houses the moving figure.

Now, it’s ritual time.  You adjust your hair so the pillow-head tangle begins to soften, you look closely to make sure your face is presentable, and then, you check out your smile, and go about shaving or tweezing or brushing whatever you typically shave or tweeze or brush.

Suddenly, you’re gasping for air!  There’s a hand around your throat.  No, it isn’t a stranger . . . it’s . . . that person on the other side of the mirror.  The image strikes with the speed of an angry cobra, wrapping fingers that look exactly like yours around your windpipe and . . . the face staring back at you, glaring through your eyes deep into your soul, appears to know.  Yes, it knows the reality.  It knows the deep lying weakness under the outer strength.  It knows the pretense, the smoke screen and . . . it knows that a part of your ritual, the ritual that you indulge in every single day, includes a mental blur between what’s real and what you wish was real.

The mirror speaks.  “It’s time!  It’s time for you to stop!”

You try to find words, but you can’t.  You’re in shock and wanting for a gulp of oxygen . . . but . . . the words aren’t necessary.  You know exactly what the reflection-gone-rogue is talking about.  You’re carrying a burden.  You would love to trade the “I’m doing just fine” for the confidence to express your honest fears and present limits.  While you have trouble acknowledging those “what if” questions, while it’s unsettling to face the futures that you appear to be heading toward, it’s the disregard of those realities that leaves you gasping for air.

OK, settle down.  This isn’t real . . . at least not the fingers around the windpipe part.  Unless you’re a regular user of hallucinogens, or you’re in touch with some twisted spirits from the netherworld, your reflection didn’t really grab you . . . but it should!  In fact, it will, through this article.  From this point forward (until further notice), the article is written by the reflection that stares back at you from the mirror every morning when you wake up.


“Yes, you look great!” 

“Yes, your smile is attractive.  Yes, you’re dreamy, magnetic, and fit . . . but, my narcissistic friend . . . I not only know your eyes, your nose, your teeth, and your smile, but I also know your thoughts . . . and it’s getting harder and harder to crank up the smile while those heavy thoughts of want and wish remain unfulfilled.

If I could grab you by the throat, I would, but everything I do, you seem to do, and no matter how hard I try, this glass pane between us remains impermeable.  The best I can do is write you this letter, holding it up for you to read as you hold a mirror image (which I can’t really read because it appears to be written backwards).

So, let’s make a deal.  I’ll continue, on a daily basis, to give you a very honest assessment of how you look, but let’s create some congruence.  Let’s not put on any airs regarding our finances, our confidence, or our lifestyle choices . . . and honestly, they’re all choices.

I’m your reflection, and you can manipulate me as you see fit.  You can turn your head to cover the blemishes, angle your chin upward to hide the wisdom lines, or stand in the best light dulling the imperfections and highlighting the strengths, but let’s be real.   You and I are the same, sort of.  Well, you are 3 dimensional and all, but with that exception, I become what you reflect, and I see an aesthetic work of art, but I feel the internal angst and it eats at me as I know it must eat at you.

If you’re falling short in meeting financial income requirements, and you invest more time in pretense than you do in sincere conversation, if you make the choice to post “cool stuff” on Facebook rather than heading out into the world to meet someone you haven’t yet met, it’s pretty likely we’ll be standing face to face every day, you pretending everything’s OK and me forced to play along.

So, here’s my advice.  Get real.  Get honest.  Face reality and take control so ultimately the aesthetic image of near-perfection is matched by an internal confidence and bliss.”

End of the Communication from Your Mirror Image

* * **

Reprise of the Communication from Phil, your FEARless Leader!

This odd perspective, this idea of a reflection confronting the reflector, came out of the inconsistencies I’ve seen from fitness professionals who felt it important to put on a front while emotional health, financial health, and relationships all deteriorated.  I honestly don’t understand it, but I see it frequently enough to know, many personal trainers, taking greater pride in their knowledge and their commitment to help others, push aside the thoughts that summon up uncomfortable realities related to their futures.

Only after creating roundtable groups and building strong relationships with the Be Better veterans, did I come to see the immense difference between those who are candid, honest, and committed to change and those who wear the figurative mask.  Kelli Calabrese and I have been floored at times by the realities some of the fitness professionals we held in high esteem had to reveal when the dust started to fly, and we discuss this with undesired frequency.  The mismatch between the “everything’s OK persona” and the “my life’s a mess” reality arises so often in our field it’s disconcerting, and we felt it important to address with those who stand upon our Platform.

(this is only the beginning of an article slated for release in the September 2010 Platform News.  It's a publication distributed only to active members in "The Platform."  Find details on getting your copy.)