The mirror — Kim Bielak

One of the biggest things I do as a coach and as a therapist is hold a mirror up for my clients.

Mirrors make it possible to see some of the things we can’t from our own limited point of view, and while often many of these reflections tend to be patterns and beliefs we may have previously been unaware of, I’ve found that one of the most consistent and significant ways I serve my clients is to mirror the unique strengths and qualities in themselves they simply seem unable to accept.

The good things. The great things.

Why is it that we seem to have such a hard time trusting our own opinions or owning our stories or the very things that make us individually unique? We prioritize other people’s opinions over our own — like they somehow must know better or have it figured out. We spend an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to change ourselves to fit our square pegs into round holes (or job descriptions, or dating profiles) and take the advice of and try to be something we think the “rest of the world” wants us to be.

Yet from the privilege of my vantage point on the other side of the screen, it’s always the parts of my clients they feel embarrassed about, want to be too humble about, don’t think are “realistic,” or are worried other people won’t understand, that are truly their greatest personal assets.

Let’s be clear: no other soul will ever share the same weird, idiosyncratic combination of gifts, passions, dreams, background, education, childhood experiences, work history, and for God’s sake Netflix history that you do. There is simply an infinite number of possibilities. And we continue to craft and create ourselves, our careers and our lives in ways that are totally one-of-a-kind. Each of us can connect certain dots and offer value in ways that no one else can.

So rather than perpetuating the narrative that there is a “better” or “worse” way to do life or to be, what if we recognized that each path and each person are all just different? And that our job is to find and build and live each of our own unique kinds of different?

If you need more, listen to the #1 piece of career advice from Melinda Gates and Oprah Winfrey: “Fitting in is overrated.”

The people we look up to most are memorable to us because they don’t hide, stifle or apologize for their strengths or the journeys that have made them unique. They know, own, and assert their unique POV in the world. That’s what authenticity is about. And when we own and step into our power in that way, we give permission to others around us to do the same. Imagine that world.

So this year, rather than asking yourself what you want to change about yourself, I offer asking: what do you want to keep?

What unique parts of you do you want to own and strengthen? Make louder? Use to uniquely build and create?

I’ll leave you with one more quote:

“There is only one success — to be able to spend your life in your own way.” — Christopher Morley

To a year of doing it your way,

Originally published at on December 29, 2020.



Associate Marriage & Family Therapist (#130527)

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