In the fairy tale Snow White, the wicked, vain and narcissistic queen stepmother becomes jealous when her magical mirror declares Snow White to be the fairest woman in all the land. For years, the stepmother had been the fairest woman in outward appearance. Snow White endured sorrow, heartache and adversity because of her stepmother’s jealousy. Through the emotional support from the seven dwarves and the admiration of a young prince, Snow White perseveres and transcends all odds to become a queen in her own right. Infantile characteristics and attributes toppled the wicked stepmother’s position in life, whereas refined characteristics and virtues elevated Snow White in position and stature.
Narcissism has caused many men and women to make poor choices in judgment and relationships both professionally and romantically. Beauty can be applauded and appreciated by everyone. To be blessed with outward good looks and beautiful material things can attract and project favorable attention and influence, but not always for the best reasons. Relationships based solely upon outward appearances generally fail when good looks begin to fade, riches begin to disappear, and alluring smiles gradually turn to frowns. The song “Smiling Faces,” recorded by the singing group, Undisputed Truth, warns of deceptive smiling faces:
Smiling faces sometimes pretend to be your friend.
Smiling faces show no traces of the evil that lurks within.
Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes
They don’t tell the truth uh.
In Character Strengths and Virtues: A handbook and classification, Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman identify six character strengths for living a good life: wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence. They also address corresponding virtues such as fairness, kindness, integrity, open-mindedness, and spirituality. “Looking beyond the looking glass” involves looking past what reflects on the surface and discovering what truly lies within. What drives your passion and purpose for living? Is it envy and greed, or appreciation and compassion? Is it dishonesty and deceit, or integrity and teamwork? Do you mislead yourself with vanity and self-centeredness? Do you discourage others from telling you the truth when the truth is what you really need to hear? Do you appeal to the higher nature within you? True beauty transcends from within and is accompanied by excellence. Beauty masked on the outside is either made more beautiful by authenticity or marred by false pretense.
A still body of water reflects on its surface, but beneath the liquid screen, deeper discoveries lie. Occasionally, it is good to meditate and look deeply into your conscience’s mirror to discover what truly lies within your inner core. If you do not like what you find, the person reflected in your conscience’s mirror must begin to make changes. If changes you desire involve good purpose, remember to rely upon your faith, spirituality or moral principles. You will also need the support of well-meaning individuals to aid you in your transition.
In “Man in the Mirror,” the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson, adds further clarity for where change needs to occur in order to have a chance at a good life:
I’m starting with the
man in the mirror.
I’m asking him to change
And no message could have
been any clearer.
If you wanna make the world
a better place,
take a look at yourself, and
then make a change.
When women apply make-up, they generally use a mirror. When men shave, they generally use a mirror. Both do so to examine their appearance. When you earnestly wish to examine your dreams, passions, motives, and intentions, look past the outward reflection of yourself and into the reflection of your deepest parts while discovering honest answers about your inner character. With good purpose, you can be true to yourself. Be careful in the process not to become crippled by past failures and disappointments, but to find the conviction and courage to act toward realizing your hopes and dreams for tomorrow with integrity.