Model Citizen

While the most popular search engine result for ‘model’ is associated with runways and ‘supers’, can models be something more than superficial or viewed solely for their external appearances? I’m in no way belittling the work that people do in the modeling industry, but is there something more to it – this modeling thing?

One of the many definitions of the word is “hypothetical description of a complex entity or process” – a lot more abstract, but allows for the subconscious mind to link and flow with the idea of our ‘cover’ appearance (and all the pages in between), our ability to upgrade, and the role we and others play in our everyday relationships and dealings.

Deeper than skin deep

I have a friend who’s a model. He’s a good-looking guy, but doesn’t grace the covers of Vogue or Vanity Fair. It is much deeper than his looks that I look to – he has attributes, strengths and traits that I value strongly. He represents a certain way of functioning, as well as an attitude and approach to life that I would like to replicate in mine.

To reflect on this more deeply, I looked at different characteristics of this friend and wrote them down. I then reordered them from a top-of-mind listing to a priority listing, with the ones that were most important to me clustered at the top. I discovered that many of the areas that took precedence on my list were intrinsic in nature – things like kindness, supportiveness, generosity and reliability.

A psychological study revealed that the resilience and happiness of couples tends to be stronger in those whose partners better match their intrinsic ideals and qualities (like trustworthiness, understanding or a commitment to service), rather than extrinsic ones (like age, attractiveness or fashion sensibility). The subconscious mind tends to have a set of connections that we find familiar and easy to associate so there may be certain outward oriented attributes may initially attract us or draw us to others. In the long run, it seems to be the deeper aspects of ourselves and others serve as the roots in a relationship that sustain us through the seasons and variations in the environment (which may wreak havoc on the surface ‘flowers’).

I’d like to think that this goes beyond a spouse or partner and extends to our nearest and dearest, and our friends and allies who have weathered the tests of time.

Who’s your super-model?

There are a few friends of mine who epitomize all that is cool and kind and wonderful. There are others who have such an inspiring aspect to them, or excel in certain areas of their lives that I find them ‘aspirational’. There are people I read about in books and online, who are living currently or who have made their mark in history, who have stories I’d like to emulate. These people serve as my models.

Please don’t confuse this looking to others as a sign that I’m unhappy with who and where I am – and it isn’t for you if you look for models in your own life. You might have heard about mirror neurons, which are neurons that fire when we observe someone else doing something and they act as mirrors – as if the observer was actually doing it.

The subconscious mind can’t tell the difference between pretend/imagination and reality. For example, children afraid of monsters under the bed produce a real fear response, even if there is nothing under the bed. With exposure to others who are living examples of positive or fulfilling attributes, our subconscious mind can, in an imaginative yet powerful way, tap into those aspects to ‘mirror’ or reflect them in daily life. You’ve heard that ‘misery loves company’, well, it seems that ‘anything loves company’ and the more we surround our mind with these inspiring traits, the faster it learns or aligns to fire in those positive ways.

While I have a roster of ‘famous’ individuals from the past and present who are living (or lived) in ways I aspire to live, I find that I tend to choose my role models from ‘real’ people (and feel lucky every time I do). I find that it’s easier to see the ‘whole’ person when I’m not reading snippets of edited works – I’m better able to see the metering of strengths and weaknesses, or the natural variations of life rather than the black and white of the extreme highs and lows of the stars or celebrated.

Take a few minutes, when you have some time to yourself, and think about others who are models to you – in your life, in your work, in your relationships, in some aspect or area. Write down the attributes that have the greatest meaning and impact – the reasons they come to mind when you think about someone being an example for you to follow. You’ll discover that deeper, intrinsic areas will come quite naturally to mind – and you may discover some traits of others that are more important than you realized.

But I’m airbrushed (strike a pose vs. poser)

There’s a quote I heard and can’t find the source, yet it goes something like “I may not be perfect but parts of me are genius!” While you may not know it, you’re someone else’s model. As a parent it may be your children, it could be someone at work, in a group, or even those who pass briefly through your everyday routines.

One of the ideas that I hear often in my work is “I wouldn’t be anyone’s model if they really knew what I was like when I didn’t have my best foot forward.” These are people who move relatively successfully through their lives yet feel that they are ‘faking it’ or that others don’t see the ‘dark side’…

I’ve looked at articles on the airbrushing of models and superstars, who tend to be already fit/beautiful/distinctive – yet they still tweak slight imperfections to gloss up the final appearance. Fortunately, life is not a magazine – it is much deeper and more varied and ‘messier’. Life is not airbrushed. Nor does it have to be.

As humans we tend to aim to do our best. Perfection may be seemingly elusive, yet if others detect our excellence, so be it. I’m often surprised (and delighted) by what people gather from us and our experiences. Remember that you’ve got your own story and information – others are looking at you through their own lens, perspectives and needs. For example, some people feel that living in other places around the world is ‘courageous’, while others think nothing of it and wouldn’t see themselves in a ‘courageous’ light.

But what if people think of me as someone I’m not – am I a phony rather than the real deal? Once again the mirror neurons and strengths of the subconscious mind come into play here. When we act the virtues we aspire to, our subconscious mind begins to believe it more and more. This isn’t like practicing medicine without a license (or training), but I’ve known many individuals with social fears who imitate or act ‘as if’ they are more confident in a group setting and suddenly discover that they do have a greater capacity and comfort in these environments.

Instead of dismissing an attribute, trait or strength others see in us, how would it change your life if you took it on to live up to and maybe uncover a hidden talent in the process?

Looking into the Mirror (2016 model You)

Earlier you might have taken a few moments to write down aspects of your role model(s) – if you haven’t, take a short break right now.

With that list are some interesting keys to discovering even more about yourself and the potentials you hold moving forward into the future. Look at what you most prize in another – are there aspects to which you aspire?

Take a few moments and write down a baby step that might move you in that direction (if it’s something you want in your life). If ‘musical’ is something that you’d like to have more of in your world, start with listening, or going to a concert, or taking a lesson.

You may also realize that while you enjoy certain traits in others, you don’t need to take on that role in your life (you are happy to listen while they play). If you feel easy about it, that’s great, but sometimes we can discover what we really want yet may have bottled up for some reason. Be aware of your body when you look at an important area and decide it’s only for someone else – if there’s fear or doubt or another emotion attached to it, there are ways to unblock those self-limiting beliefs that may open you to more opportunities or experiences.

The coolest part of this list is allowing you to discover that many of the listed attributes of your role models already exist in you. While some may be unpracticed or unacknowledged, take an easygoing attitude to the possibility that you possess many of the characteristics that you appreciate in others – yup, there’s that mirror again.

Take this as slowly as you need – you’ve suddenly uncovered superpowers of a super model that’s you! Take time to imagine 2016 and how it will change when you exhibit a more refined and deeper connection to these aspects and from these roots amazing things will happen in your life.
If you need some support dealing with the end of 2015 or want to enhance your ability to model and create a better 2016, I’d love to be there for you. Contact me directly at [email protected] to discuss the best way to discover a new year worth celebrating!

Take care and talk soon,

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