Why Remove Toxic People From Your Life

I had a conversation with someone at the market the other day and they were telling me a terrible story about something that their friend said to them. It was discouraging and mean, and immediately I thought “Why would you have a friend like that?”

Years ago, when I was a corporate dude, I had a lot of friends. In fact I prided myself on how many friends I had. It was almost like the more popular I was, the more value my life had. I also had a collection of friendships that were bronzed by longevity, a group of friends that were at the top tiers because I had known them longer than anyone else.

Despite having a close circle of friends, I wasn’t what you would call happy. I think the problem started because I wasn’t very popular in school. Trust me, I have no qualms about it, I was a weird ass kid… I mean I wasn’t scary weird, just quiet, awkward, and unsociable. I think my need to fill in the empty space, caused me to not question my friendships and feel grateful that people were actually willing to call me their friend.

It wasn’t until years later that I started to take notice of the dynamic personalities that I took on around certain people. How in most cases, I was too afraid to be myself, and how I wasn’t really sure who that was any more.

Some people that I considered really close friends ended up being the most toxic. I didn’t realize it, because we had slowly over the years created a dance in our relationships, where I willingly played a role and they played theirs. It was like our dynamic was perfectly choreographed.

A truth that I had to face, which was very difficult for me was this. You will allow people to abuse you slightly less than you abuse yourself and others, or you would leave immediately. It is only because you think you deserve it, that you make all the excuses to stay. Either from the beginning, or slowly throughout your relationship, you allowed yourself to stay and take the toxic relationship.

This wasn’t a happy thought from where I was standing. I wanted to deny it, and say it was just some crap that some stupid self help guru made up.

But, once I started thinking about it, I couldn’t stop. I realized that the source of my unhappiness had noting to do with the people I surrounded myself with. I surrounded myself with toxic people, because I was toxic to myself and others. A positive person entering my life wouldn’t last long in that dynamic, they would get weeded out eventually or simply leave.

I had to change my relationship with myself.

When I started on this journey to becoming my biggest cheerleader, most of my friends were put off by it and called me all kinds of names.

I associated it to this analogy:

You go to a bar every night and meet with five friends. Every night, you complain about your job, your spouse, the weather, and yourself. You all commiserate about how tough things are for you and how life sucks. All you know is the inside of that bar, that is where you are comfortable.

Then one day, you go for a walk instead. The day is beautiful, and you stand by the ocean. At first you are uncomfortable, and not really sure what to expect. Part of you wants to run back to the bar, the other part of you wants to see where this goes. So you stay. You sit in the stillness and watch a sunset for the first time and you are overcome with beauty.

You go back to the bar the next night and try to convince your friends to stop their routine and experience the sunset like you did. You tell them that it is beautiful, and that you feel amazing. They tell you that you have changed, and they feel like they don’t know you any more.

At that point you have a choice… Go to the sunset alone, or stay at the bar.

Choice is yours.

When A Harsh Critic Attacks – How I Handle It

Not well sometimes… but I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve that have helped me get better and better at dealing with poo flinging critics.

I think it is a necessary plight that one will have to get used to when you are putting yourself out there. I am an artist who creates art, music, writing, YouTube videos, and puts them all out there for the world to see… I get a lot of negative criticism.

People Can Say Mean Things About My Art And I Don’t Care

Comparatively speaking, I mostly get a lot of beautiful comments on my creations. We have a following of some of the most amazing humans I have ever had the pleasure of interacting with.

Yet, negative comments can still throw me off kilter, despite the overwhelming positivity I experience in the world. It’s almost like a temporary reminder that the world isn’t such a wonderful place… and there is an a-hole around every corner, just waiting to jump out and say you suck.

I want to be clear about something, I’m not talking about constructive criticism. Listen, sometimes even a helpful criticism can be hard to hear, and our first response may be to run away flailing our arms helplessly, but sometimes it’s valid. Follow the source and stop for a moment, get off your high horse and check to see if it is valid and constructive. If not, then we are talking about destructive criticism. If the criticism is constructive, then it’s intended to guide you and to help you improve as a person, not to bring you down and make you feel inadequate.

People Say Mean Things On My YouTube Channel All The Time, And I Don’t Care… Kinda… I’m working On It.

If the criticism is completely invalid, totally off, and only meant to hurt you, then that’s what I’m talking about here.

So what do I do when someone is all “blah blah blah you suck Rafi blah blah blah!” I Don’t take it personally. It takes a miserable person to try and make themselves feel better by giving some misery to someone else… don’t take it, it’s not yours, and it doesn’t belong to you. Understand that people who are in pain say really hurtful things, especially people that may know which buttons to press. Think about a time where you may have said something terrible to someone. Were you in your right mind? Were you in pain? Were you feeling like a victim? Some people live there in that place… don’t take it personally, unless you wanna visit and stay a while.

Recently A Friend Said Something Mean About My Singing And I Don’t Care.

Understand that it’s your buttons. Why is it that one person can be called ugly and not even react a little, but someone else will blow a gasket? It’s because we all have our own little triggers based on our own insecurities. So if someone says something and it bothers you, take a look and see if you can identify the insecurity or doubt behind the emotion. In my opinion, when someone says something mean and you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are full of crap, you hardly even react, but if they touch on something that pushes on an insecurity it can be devastating. Just remember, they are your buttons. Figure out what’s behind it and sort it out.

Keep doing what you’re doing. Are you going to stop being who you are simply because someone spewed some garbage at you? Of course not. If the criticism has no basis whatsoever, then the best thing you can do is to ignore it completely.

Honestly, only very few people will talk smack, and I’m going to keep doing what I do… and they can kiss my booty.

Listen, people talk shit all the time because they are not putting themselves out there in the muck, sweating, bleeding and enduring the terrifyingly exhilarating ride that is fulfilling your dreams. They are going to say you can’t sing, you can’t paint, you’re not funny, you’re are not good enough, and everything else that they can say to destroy your hope and get you to stop. Don’t EVER let someone who is not putting themselves out there in the muck discourage you from going all the way. If they are not doing it themselves, and facing critics of their own, then they have no right to talk.

Don’t feel bad if you’re not able to push all of the negative words aside right away. It takes practice to work it out and get to a place where it’s no thing… But you got this.

5 Reasons Why I Don’t Need Drugs To Feel Good

People tend to think that artists are on the fringes of society and completely out of their minds. I can only assume to know what kind of craziness they think ensues in my creative life. I’m sure they picture me wide eyed and completely detached from reality stuck in front of a canvas throwing brushes at imaginary people… or doing drugs. Let’s be honest, most people think artists are on something.

I hate to burst your bubble, but I don’t do any drugs and I’m really quite boring… but awesomely boring. Although, if you saw me right now you would think I was out of my mind or on drugs. Listen, just because you’re in your studio shaking your fists in the air and screaming “You’re gonna die!” doesn’t mean you are crazy… it might just mean that a fly got in and it’s been flying around your head for the last hour.

Anyhow, the article is all about why I don’t need drugs, so let’s get into it.

1. I do something nice for myself every day.

Simply put, I make sure to do what I want to do for a few hours. Not a to do list, not a job, not errand, simply what I want. It might be paint something, or sit in a chair and stare at a wall, whatever it is, I’m gonna do it.

2. I listen to myself.

I pay attention to how I talk to myself, or how I describe myself in conversation to other people. I’m always paying attention to make sure that I’m not discouraging or putting myself down. I feel like it is a social norm to get down on yourself, and say things like “Yeah, I’m stupid.” or blah blah blah… In fact, most people don’t want to say too many nice things about themselves for fear that someone might think they are conceited, which in my opinion is stupid.

3. I forgive myself

I screw up a lot, and make all kinds of mistakes. I do a lot of great things too, but the problem is that most of the time we tend to dwell in the mistakes and all but forget the wins. I make it a point to learn from my mistakes and move on.

4. I accept myself as I am right now.

For starters, that means accepting the body that I have today, which is a very different body than I had forever ago. If there is any habit that I picked up from my family, it is obsessing about my weight and my age… weight, I can do something about if it gets out of hand, age not so much. Either way, being happy with the you that is you right now is the only thing that matters.

Self-acceptance also means accepting my income and success level, and getting out of the stupid mentality that I’m not enough. Honestly, accepting yourself is stating to yourself that right now, in this moment, you are enough… plain and simple.

5. I eliminate toxic people from my life.

I do not allow or tolerate clients, friends, family, collectors of my art, YouTube followers, or anyone to make me unhappy. I have no problem hanging up on, deleting, or not continuing a relationship with anyone who is toxic. It’s not worth it.

All in all, it’s about feeling a sense of freedom and appreciating your life more. I feel like a lot of my life was spent feeling like a victim, and needing to escape. It’s still a work in progress, but I mostly feel really good about my life. I no longer feel like a victim to toxic people, my own self talk, my mistakes, my age, my body, time, the world, or much of anything… except that damn fly.

I gotta go… “YOU’RE GONNA DIE FLY!!!”

Everything Happens For A Reason

I know what you’re thinking, oh boy Rafi is going to give us an airy fairy lecture on the universe or some crap like that. Maybe, but I wanted to share a piece of advice that I would have given my younger self. It’s a piece of advice that has changed my life for the better, a different perspective than what is the norm.

When I say everything happens for a reason, I don’t mean what most people mean when they are trying to see the silver lining in a tragedy, because honestly, sometimes there isn’t one. Life can suck royally and sometimes shit happens that we have a hard time bouncing back from.

It’s more about taking responsibility for your life and how you feel. In other words, not blaming yourself or others for the circumstances and events that take place in your life. Understanding that every moment, every circumstance is an opportunity for you to show yourself who you are.

Whether it’s good or bad, if you understand that everything comes into your life for a reason, even though at the time something might seem like your world is falling apart, you’ll be more equipped to handle it.

Life By Rafi Perez

It is only natural to feel like things are not meant to happen in a negative way — people are not meant to leave, you are not meant to get rejected, accidents are not meant to happen — and if you had done something differently, the situation might have turned out different.

However, as time passes, you realize that things happen, life goes on, and you are left stronger and wiser for it. Sometimes people come into your life to teach you something about yourself, or to bring you to the opportunity to empower yourself. Things that seemed horrible, painful, or unfair at the time usually lead to an opportunity to stand up for yourself. Years later in reflection, you may realize that they happened because you allowed them to happen, and eventually got stronger for it. That is taking responsibility.

My Life Drips Away

So here’s the advice I’d like to give to my younger self:

Everything happens for a reason — understand this. Without mistakes and failure, you would have never learned. Without breakups, you would have never met someone new. Without pain, you would have never grown. Once you understand this — really understand this — you will know that everything can serve a purpose. Don’t dwell on disappointments or view unfortunate events as regrets. But rather, see them as opportunities in disguise — an opportunity to know yourself. Try to understand the fleeting nature of events in life and don’t stress or ever think that life is unfair, because everything happens for a reason. And only time will tell.

Be comfortable with who you are

A really popular phrase is – no one’s perfect. But so often we compare our insides to other people’s outsides. Dwelling on our flaws, what we’re not rather than what we’ve got, or who we really are.

I would challenge everyone in the world and say, yes you are perfect. You are the most perfect version of you that exists out there. No one can be like you, and you can’t be like anyone else. There has never existed someone exactly like you, there is no one like you now, and there will never be anyone like you… you are it.

Love Yourself

I think imperfection comes when we try to be like someone else, because we see them as perfect, or more perfect than us. Sometimes it’s things like looks, hair color, skin color, beauty ideals, education, height, weight, eye color, and so much more. But who is to say what is perfect and what is not?

First of all, ask one hundred people to describe what is perfect and you will get 100 different answers. Usually, these people will be describing someone other than themselves because they think they are flawed. This version of the idea of perfection is what is flawed.

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

Listen, you are beautiful, unique, and perfect just as you are. Simple. You don’t have to be ANYONE else in order to be perfect, you just have to be the best version of you that you can be.

Feeling like you are flawed, letting people down, a loser, ugly, dumb, unmotivated, not good enough, and other popular presets of society is not going to help you achieve the perfection that is you… No, you are going to act like a dumbass, because you feel that you are nothing more than a dumbass compared to that jackass over there.

Golden Glow By Rafi Perez

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, there is no comparison. Focus on being the best possible version of you that you can be. Take time to determine that for yourself. You know you are there when you think you are beautiful, but you also think everyone is beautiful.

If you think you are more beautiful than someone else, then you’re just playing the same stupid perfection game that everyone else plays.

Learning to accept ourselves and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong increases our enjoyment of life, our resilience and our well-being. It also helps us accept others as they are. So figure out who you really are for yourself. Just food for thought.

What is the real you like?

Feeling Powerful In Three Steps

I created the “EMPOWERMENT” series based on self empowerment, as a tool to be used as a daily reminder. This is my social commentary on the way that people talk to themselves or the way they see themselves. I believe we all have the ability to feel confident and strong, but for the most part we have made it a habit to talk to ourselves in a way that makes us feel powerless.

Believe By Rafi Perez

In reality, personal empowerment is not something we feel, it’s something we do. Our sense of empowerment is a reflection of the increased personal value and self-worth that comes out of our experience of having real influence in our lives.

Empowering ourselves and creating change, which ultimately leads to the increased sense of personal value and self-worth we call the “feeling” of empowerment, involves some very specific steps.

Bonafide By Rafi Perez
  1. Stop comparing yourself to others. Start improving yourself

People tend to compare themselves to others because at times it will make them feel better about their lives or something they are trying to do. For example I know a lot of artists that feel better about their ability to create art because they compare their art to stuff they consider inferior. This is a double edged blade, because they will also compare their work to other work that they consider vastly superior. When they do this it leads to a devastating realization that their work isn’t that great. The truth is, nothing is better or worse than anything else, it’s just our perspective which can change.

Life By Rafi Perez

When you resist comparing yourself, you will be less engaged in judgement, and self-judgement, YOU WILL focus instead on your work – this alone will be empowering.

Belief By Rafi Perez
  • Take responsibility.

Taking responsibility means simply to be responsible for the way you respond to a situation. Most importantly, no matter how much you want to blame someone else for the way you feel, it’s important to remember that no matter what anyone does, you are ultimately responsible for how you respond to the given situation.

There are many small opportunities throughout the day to take responsibility for your emotions, play around with the concept. This will put the power back in your hands and no longer let your emotions fluctuate depending on the people around you.

Create By Rafi Perez
  • Do Something. Take Action!

One of the best things you can do to feel empowered is take action. Think about all those things you wish you did or that you want to do, but maybe you feel lazy or unmotivated. Whenever you don’t take action on it, it can have a devastating effect on your self esteem. Make it a habit to just take action and stop thinking about doing it.

Golden Glow By Rafi Perez

Taking action means remembering to have fun, at least that’s what it means to me. Have fun!

There are lots of ways to empower yourself and create positive change in your life. These are just a few things I try to keep in mind daily, or remind myself if ever I’m feeling less than empowered. Above all, remember that you are a beautiful luminous being, and go out and rock this life thing!

A Love Connection With Self

Happy Valentine’s Day!!! Time to sacrifice a goat in a cave, slap people on the street with its bloody hide to help with fertility and purity, and then party all night! Well, maybe not any more. Luckily, the origins of this very loving Hallmark holiday is way in the past, so today we celebrate each other and our loved ones in a less sacrificial blood and chanting way.

I’m sure everyone who is in a relationship is planning dinners, gifts, and private moments, so I’ll get right to the point. I would like to add a little something else to this day, to be your own Valentine. I’m saying, let’s take the opportunity to watch how we talk to ourselves, trust me it’ll help your relationship.

Much of our self talk has a huge impact on our relationships. This stems from low self esteem and negative self worth. Many people find themselves not good enough to do or be something, and they make sure to remind themselves of this often.

In the area of love, this is one of the things that complicates our relationships. We sometimes get into a relationship with someone and convince ourselves that happiness lies in the other person. This is because we feel we are not worthy to make ourselves happy, and that we are incomplete.

Incompleteness is a silly concept, although it may sound romantic to tell someone that they complete you, really when you think about it, it’s stupid.

It is a concept full of expectations and assumptions. You expect the person to always complete you, and that will lead to resentment and judgment because ain’t nobody got time for that.

We tell ourselves that we are incomplete without this other person because we think they fill the void we feel in our being. They do not fill this void, they remind us how to fill it ourselves because they love us and we temporarily see ourselves through their eyes. This wears off eventually, and oh boy can things get complicated.

Rafi and Klee Silly In Love

Hey, all I’m saying is if you love someone, you better love yourself and be nice to yourself, or you’ll be making yourself miserable no matter who you have around. You’ll also be making the person you love miserable. Food for thought.

Love you valentine! From both of us!

A Letter To Myself In A Moment Of Darkness vs Light

I wanted to let you guys in on a process that I do when I’m feeling overwhelmed or dark. I write a letter to myself and then respond from a different point of view. This isn’t something that someone typically shares with folks, but I know I’m not typical, so here it is.

Warning, you may read things that concern you, don’t worry, I’m fine, this is just a way to get the feelings out in their rawest form.

“Dear self,

This week has been a tough week for me. I’ve been wading through an emotional cesspool of insecurities and old painful memories. As a result my environment has lost some of it’s vibrant color. I am walking around in a world that I recognize, yet haven’t visited in a long time. It is a dark grey world in which the sunlight is nonexistent. For a person such as myself, an artist who thrives on vibrant colors and light, this is what I imagine hell would feel like.

Rafi Stressed

It’s interesting to me that when your mind takes you to a dark place, it seems like the entire world has conspired against you. It’s like you’re in a movie and the set design is based on the overall feeling of the main character. You watch yourself on the silver screen of life following an old dramatic script that you have rehearsed so many times that it seems like it all comes so naturally. You are the main character, yet no one else is experiencing what you are experiencing, feeling isolated and alone, surrounded by smiling faces, yet totally by yourself.

So, my question is this, what do I do now?”

Rafi in a messy art studio

After a short pause… I read the letter, take a deep breath and respond as best I can.

“Dear Dramatic Self,

Good question! Well, you get off your ass and out of your head. Listen, I understand that sometimes shit happens. You are going through a point in your life that might be transitional. Maybe you feel like you lost a sense of direction, maybe you are going through something emotionally taxing, maybe some button got pushed that hasn’t been pushed for a long time, maybe things just suck right now. No matter what it is, you have every excuse to feel the way you do, but that’s the thing, they’re just excuses.

In my opinion, things that people call emotionally chronic are simply practiced. You’ve spent years practicing how to be dramatic and respond to certain thoughts or situations in a certain way. That dramatic script you mentioned is a real thing, people can follow the same script over and over in their lives without even wondering if they can change it. They can feel like their thoughts are thinking them, instead of them thinking their thoughts. 

Do What You Can Rafi Perez

You find yourself in a rut and what do you do? You sit, slump, cry, withdraw, and replay events over and over in your mind, and repeat. You find something or someone to blame for what you are feeling. Maybe you even pull yourself momentarily out of your funk by putting all your energy into being angry at this person or situation. Yet, nothing changes, this just keeps replaying over and over in your life. So much so, that you think this is just the way it is, “this is my life”.

You believe your story, you shape the world after your story, and discount anything that challenges that story. The story has to be true, if it wasn’t true, then it means you are torturing yourself for nothing.

Well, guess what? It is true. It’s true because you think it’s true, and your brilliant mind is going to do everything in it’s power to make it the truest thing you have ever experienced. Your doubt is going to punch you in the face, your insecurities about yourself are going to knock you down, your judgments and fear about people will come true, and everything you surround yourself with will be a constant reminder of your misery and fear. 

Rafi Perez

Do you know what else is true? That your courage will destroy anything doubt can throw at you. Your determination will pick you up when you fall, stronger and better equipped than ever before. Your hope and unconditional love will present itself to you in overwhelming love and kindness, and everything around you will glow with vibrancy and light, this being a constant reminder of your sense of optimism and hope.

It’s ALL true… Every last bit. The question isn’t who is right or wrong, or what is true or untrue, or what you should or should not do… but simply, what would you rather do? How would you rather feel? What would you rather think? What do you want to focus on? Who do you want to be? And what do you want to believe, right now… in this moment?

Office Decorated By Rafi Perez

We don’t carry feelings in our pocket, or find them in a box buried somewhere. We produce those feelings based on our perspectives and beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. You can believe what ever it is you want to believe about yourself and what is possible for you, and you can do that right now.

Honestly, this moment is all we really ever have, this moment, right now. So make a choice, despite the script you have been rehearsing all your life. Just make a choice.

Now quit whining and pick yourself up like the awesome person I know you to be.

With Much Love, -Rafi”

And that’s it! Welcome to my world of crazy 🙂

 

 

 

 

The Man And His Shadow

Hi guys, here is a short story I wrote a while back, I wanted to share this with you. It seems a little dark in the beginning, but I promise the ending is pretty bright.

man-and-his-shadow-5

 

The Man And His Shadow

One day, a man was walking down the street on his way to work. His thoughts were on his life as he looked into his passing image in the store windows.

“What has happened to you, you look horrible.” He thought as he turned away
from his reflection.

His stomach rumbled a bit in passing the faint smell of delicious coffee and pastries emanating from the small café on the corner.

“If only you had woken up earlier, maybe you would have time to eat, not that it
matters, you don’t have a dime to your name. You’re such a loser, you know that?”

The man’s expression soured and his shoulders slumped a bit. He made his way to the bus stop and stood next to a group of people, none looked up from what they were doing.

man-and-his-shadow-4

“You don’t even exist, you could die tomorrow and no one would notice. You are
worthless.”

He looked out at the passing cars as people made their way to work. Some were talking on their cell phones, others seemed barely awake, and some were applying make up.

Just then, a man in a beautiful expensive car drove up. He had a smile on his face and exuded a confident warmth.

“Look at that, if you actually had done something right in your life, maybe you would drive your own car instead of taking the bus with all the other losers.”

The man looked up briefly at the crowd and then back at the crack in the cement by his feet. The bus arrived and he fumbled with his change, and felt slightly embarrassed that he had taken as long as he did.

“You do this every morning, you make yourself look like an ass everywhere you go. You are such an idiot.”

Not looking at people, he made his way to the handrail and stood there quietly as the bus took off. A beautiful woman stood at the other end of a group of commuters. The man always looked forward to seeing her, but had never had the nerve to talk to her.

“Are you kidding me, what the hell do you have to offer her? She would laugh in your face, or vomit. If you talk to her you’re just going to make yourself look stupid again.”

He looked away disappointed, and wondered if he would ever meet someone. He glanced at his reflection on the bus windows and noticed something on his shoulder.

man-and-his-shadow-2

When he looked down at his shoulder, there was nothing there. Looking back at his reflection, he could distinctly make out a form of a small person sitting on his slumped shoulders. It bent down and whispered in his ear.

“Not only are you an idiot and a loser but now you’re going crazy too. You should just end your meaningless life now and put everyone who knows you out of their misery.”

He blinked his eyes and the image was gone.

Maybe it was just the fact that he was hungry, he couldn’t afford to start going crazy now on top of everything else that sucked in his life. 

After getting off the bus, he watched the beautiful woman walking away, a dream that would never come true. Suddenly, a cab honked it’s horn, startling the man. 

man-and-his-shadow-3

“Watch where you’re going you idiot!” Screamed the cab driver.

The man jumped out of the street and looked around, embarrassed.

“Even the cab drivers know you’re an idiot. You might as well walk around with a sign that says “I’m an idiot”.

The rest of the day pretty much went the same for him. He avoided talking to people, and just kind of kept to himself. The conversations he had were either about work or mindless small talk.

That night as he was getting ready for bed, he looked into the mirror and saw the shadowy form sitting on his shoulder again.

man-and-his-shadow-1

Frightened, he looked away. After a few seconds, he felt himself compelled to
look again, and the shadow was still there.

“Who are you?” The man asked.

“I am you. A form of you anyway.” The shadow said.

“What does that mean? Why are you here? Am I going insane?” The man questioned.

“It means” The shadow shrugged “that I am the voice that tells you what you think you should hear. I am you, telling you what you can’t do, in order to keep you safely where you are most comfortable.”

“I have been conditioned by you all your life.” The shadow continued “You have told me what to think, what to say, and how to remind you.”

“My whole life?” The man asked.

“Yeah, but our relationship was much different when we were young. I was much brighter then. Our world was one of wonder, exploration, and imagination. We played for hours and loved openly. There was nothing we couldn’t do, and we did everything our hearts desired.”

“What happened?” The man asked.

“We were introduced to fear, limitations, intimidation, by words or actions. You started to tell me to remind you of these things so you wouldn’t get yourself into trouble. All of these fears and limitations were based on other people’s opinions. We believed them as our own because they would keep us safe.

After a while we were just not good enough. We believed we had to be something other than we are in order to be worthy, worth it, or good enough. We consoled ourselves by saying nobody was perfect, but everyone else seemed so much more perfect than we could ever be. So a shadow filled my light, and I became darker. It became my job to remind you of your imperfection.”

“Why does it have to be this way?” The man asked.

“It doesn’t. I am tired of telling you horrible things based in lies. The truth is, you are perfect, you are the most perfect and beautiful version of you that exists in this universe. You are a unique gift to the world.”

The man looked deep in the mirror, and tears swelled in his eyes. He saw that the shadow was actually him. The shadow was the smoke that had prevented the light from shining within him.

The shadow was a lie that hid the truth from him. In that moment he caught a glimpse of his perfection. He realized that almost everything he believed to be true about himself was a lie he believed. The light shone within him, the light that was always so familiar.

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He made a choice at that moment based on what he wanted out of life. A choice based on fearlessness and limitless potential. He made a choice, looked at the person in the mirror and said…

“I love you.”