Kind of like photographs, the other place where it can be so tender to have negative self-talk come up is the mirror.
It’s a tough one, I know!
In a couple prompts in Be Your Own Beloved (class starts tomorrow by the way) I get folks to try taking self-portraits in the mirror and I know it is often a tender one for participants.
Much like taking self-portraits, it is one of those places where our inner dialouge comes up, which might make us feel like it is a danger-zone or a place of tenderness. But I believe that those are the same places, the same tools that can help us write a new story and to see ourselves with kindness…because they are so potent. When we push past the inner critic, kindness does await us on the other side.
Even before I picked up a camera and started taking self-portraits to cultivate self-love, the mirror was a place where I tried to do self-love work. At the same time, it was also the place where I was most critical of myself.
Lately when I walk into the bathroom I feel something so different than those years past when my stories would hit me like a slap across the face when I entered the room. These days I see the woman in the mirror as a friend and ally and smile at her. That isn’t to say there aren’t moments when they do come up…but the thing that I try to remember is that self-love is about resiliency. It is about having moments where we don’t choose love and not getting down on ourselves and just saying…in the future I will make a different choice or acknowledge that we are just doing our best right now.
So I though I’d share with you a few tools that have helped me make friends with the person in the mirror!
Write Yourself a Love Note
One of the most powerful ways I’ve found to remind yourself that the mirror is a place you want to see your ally reflected is to find words that will remind you of that and in a way, leave yourself a love note on your mirror. You could write it on paper and tape in on there with washi tape. Or even write it on a post it note. One of my favourite ways is to get some acrylic paint and paint it on the mirror (making it easy to wash off later). I especially find this is great for those big bathroom mirrors….they have so much space you could even write a poem on them! For a long time I had the entire poem Love after Love by Derek Walcott painted on my bathroom mirror. Of course you can also just use your own words and say ‘I see you’. Or ‘You look beautiful today’ or ‘Trust Yourself’…whatever resonates most with you!
I find that after a while you almost forget these messages are there but they are like these guiding forces. Or you can also have them be a point of focus for when you are getting into negative self-talk.
Adorn your Mirror with things that feel like YOU
So, when we look into the mirror, the negativity that may come up for some of us…well, they are stories, right. Not truths. Another tool I like to use is to invite other stories that can remind us of the stories that DO feel like us, that support and enrich us. You might put up a photo of someone who by seeing their image reminds you of how you are loved (and that you deserve to love yourself in that same way).
Or you could just surround your mirror with things that feel like you. I always love seeing mirrors that have jewelry or found objects or photos around it that are so rich in storytelling about that person who’s mirror it is. How could you make your mirror a place that is rich in stories of you…the ones you want to focus on?
Find a Mirror You Love
Yes! We can do this work any place we choose.
It could be your bathroom mirror.
Or your reflection in things around your house (like a window).
Or in a small mirror, or a full sized one.
I highly recommend finding a mirror that you like. It could be that the frame of the mirror makes you smile or means something to you. Or perhaps the mirror itself is so lovely that you enjoy standing in front of it!
It doesn’t even have to be a big mirror but getting a mirror that you decide will be a place that you will see yourself with kindness is mighty powerful. I have one mirror that I have carried from home to home for a decade now that is just my happy place mirror. I can just see myself clearly in it and not the stories that follow us there.
Seek Out Mirrors in your World
You could kind of consider this a treasure hunt for cool mirrors to take self-portraits in! I especially love finding ones where I am part of the big picture and can photograph a part of myself in it.
This can be a really powerful way to begin taking mirror self-portraits, to just add some adventure or fun seeing ourselves in the mirror.
Some suggestions for when you are out ‘n about in the world to seek out mirror reflections are:
- Restaurant bathrooms
- Mirrors in Stores
- Store windows
- Remember too that it doesn’t need to be a full length mirror! Look for smaller mirrors or reflective surfaces too.
Look Yourself in the Eye (and through the Lens)
A big piece of making peace with ourselves through the mirror involves looking ourselves in the eyes, doesn’t it. And then not looking away. It’s not always an easy thing to do either. But that has felt like a pivotal part of healing my relationship to my self-image…to looking myself literally in they eyes with kindness.
I shared a bit about this in a previous post but when we add a camera to the process, it gets a bit more complicated. Especially with phones where we can see our image on the screen, we might be drawn (as so many people are) to look at ourselves in the screen rather than ourselves in the mirror. Or we might find that when we literally look ourselves in the eye in the mirror and take a photo, when we look back at the photo we don’t get to make eye contact with ourselves.
Being able to look back at our photos and look ourselves in the eye is incredibly powerful, so I encourage you to try looking directly into the reflection of your lens in the mirror…that will allow you to be making eye contact with your future self looking back at this photo! This is not a tried and true rule of course, or something you must do…but I find it’s not something people think to do (or we hide behind our cameras and don’t even make eye contact with our reflection through the photo) and next time you and your camera are at the mirror taking a selfie, I encourage you to try all these options and see what feels best for you.
Make a Ritual of taking self-portraits in Your Mirror.
You knew this one was coming, right! Sometimes making a theme or a focus for taking mirror self-portraits can be super powerful. It might be taking a self-portrait in your bathroom mirror each morning to check in with yourself, or to write a different love note on your mirror each week and take a selfie with it.
I also like to make a ritual of taking a self-portrait in the same mirrors out and about in the world, each time I cross paths with it….so that could be a way that you take a regular self-portrait in the mirror too.
I wanted to share a few links to friends who’s work overlaps with this post so beautifully. Check out Liz Lamoreux’s post about how the mirror helps her shift how she sees herself. Another project that I’m loving these days is Kelly Rae Robert’s #thewearyourjoyproject where folks are sharing the joy they are finding in getting dressed each day and it can be a great focus for taking a mirror self-portrait each day!
Choose to Befriend the Person in the Mirror
Now, this one is something that we dig deeper into in Be Your Own Beloved, building our relationship to not just the physicality we are in the mirror or in a photo, but to use it as a doorway to greater self-love.
And here’s the truth about what I’ve found with making peace with ourselves through our camera or a mirror. We get to choose to make a change and start seeing ourselves differently. I once thought that would be truly impossible but slowly but surely, the woman in the mirror no longer feels like my enemy and she and I have committed to making peace, even if we have our rough days. We’re now allies.
These tools and the ones we explore in Be Your Own Beloved aren’t just for those days when you are feeling excited or happy too. When I’m having a really rough inner critic day or am having trouble seeing myself with kindness, sometimes I just stand in front of the mirror and just say something to her, try to meet her with the same compassion I would meet a friend.
I hope all of these tips I shared in todays post will be helpful for you and that find a mirror along your path today and capture a selfie in it or just pause and try to see the person in it with kind eyes. If you find yourself thinking “Well, this all sounds great but I’m not sure how to make it happen” ponder coming to join me for the Be Your Own Beloved class (starting tomorrow) and while the class isn’t focused on the mirror, day by day you will find yourself becoming more comfortable and more kind to the person you see in the photo. I’d be honoured to support and cheer you on in that journey.
If you do take a selfie in a mirror and would like to share it, don’t hesitate to use the #beyourownbeloved hashtag so the Be Your Own Beloved community & I can cheer you on!