In Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling, a duckling was made an outcast, ostracized from the other ducklings, and was really depressed. One day he looked across the pond and saw the most magnificent creature he had ever seen, which happened to be a swan. The duckling jumped into the water to swim up to this magnificent swan, but he realized he had grown up and had become a beautiful swan himself. You may not be able to convince yourself that no matter how much you view yourself as an ugly duckling, deep inside there is a swan waiting to grow up and be beautiful.
Some people have deeply rooted self-image problems and/or a sense of identity that cause them a lot of pain. No matter how much they want to see themselves as something far more beautiful, it’s too painful to depart from their current sense of identity. A lot of times if we set goals that are too big, it’s going to cause them to derail or fail. It’s not going to motivate us toward success.
The lesson here is that the ugly duckling’s life changed not when he saw himself as a more beautiful version of himself, but rather when he saw a completely different creature: another swan. If he had looked down into the water and saw a reflection of a swan where he thought he was a duckling, he would not have been able to process it.
We all have a mental self image that’s set like a thermostat from years and years of conditioning. Once we start achieving our fitness goals, we may self-sabotage. Try to find an alternate reference point that’s not threatening. If you consider yourself an ugly duckling, try to find an external reference point. Find your swan – someone that you really admire. What is it about them that makes them so attractive, and which of those attributes are aligned with you?
Sometimes when you see an attribute in someone else that you find really beautiful, it’s because those attributes are reflective of what we see in ourselves.