Mirrors are everywhere. Some people can’t get enough of them while others try everything they can to avoid them. Regardless, it’s important to accept that mirrors are there and that they are a huge part of your daily self-talk. You may not even realize you have an internal dialogue with yourself about yourself every time you see yourself in a mirror. Things like, “What is wrong with my hair?” or, “Oh my gosh, I could scare a small child with that face!” may run through your head. I thought both those things this morning while getting ready. You don’t necessarily intend to give yourself such a hard time, but if you aren’t satisfied with what you see when you look in the mirror, there is a good chance you will hurl insult after insult toward your reflection, whether out loud or in your head. One minute in front of a mirror can equate to 20 insults – insults that you take to be true, because they come directly from – well – you.
But it shouldn’t be like that!
When you look in the mirror, you are focusing on your physical self, not your inner/mental self. Therefore, your self-talk focuses strictly on how you look. You will rarely look in the mirror and think about how smart or kind or hard-working you are. Instead, you will think about how much you weigh, what your skin looks like, how your hair falls, etc. The secret to conquering this dark cloud and adding some light to your day is three simple steps:
The first step is realizing and admitting that you are guilty of giving your mirror-self a hard time. That realization is huge because you can then combat the negative self-talk head-on. When you are aware you are saying negative things, you have the ability to stop the negative statement and immediately replace it with a positive statement, whether it be about your image or who you are beyond the image. You can change, “Oh my gosh, how am I still breaking out at thirty?!?!” to “I really like how you look when you smile,” or, “You really impressed me with how you prepared for that presentation.” Say things that are real – things that you believe. There is nothing wrong with complimenting yourself. In fact, I encourage you to give as many genuine compliments as you can muster to yourself every day.
Second, after replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk, you will want to work on changing or improving upon those habits that will help make you look and feel more like the person you want to be and see in the mirror. What can you change? Well, there are only three physical appearance categories you control: your hygiene (e.g., brushing your teeth, showering, etc.), your grooming (e.g., styling your hair, how you dress, etc.), and your physique (calories in, calories out, and hydration). In order to start your journey towards a happier you, you need to understand what is controllable and what is not. This concept is popularly described by the well-known Serenity prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
So you need to separate what you can and can’t control first or you will be reaching for a false-reality. Once you are able to narrow down what you can control and want to change, you can take the next brave step toward making those changes.
The final step is a simple habit: take at least five minutes at the beginning of your day, no matter what you have going on, to give attention to your “mirror-self.” It can be a quick make-up routine (see Five Minutes to Beautiful) or some other routine that allows you to present yourself the way you want to see yourself. But those five minutes can make a huge difference in eliminating negative self-talk because you start your day by polishing up your mirror-self.
In summary, you first need to realize you are using negative self-talk. Then you can replace it with positive self-talk. Second, you need to differentiate between what you can change about what you see and what you can’t. This will allow you to make realistic improvements to your physical health routines. And third, you need to give yourself at least five minutes of attention every morning to decrease the amount of time you will be in front of the mirror looking different from the way you would like, while also allowing for you to practice changing negative self-talk to positive self-talk. So, the next time you look into a mirror, I’d like you to think about the words made famous by the Brother Grimm’s Snow White, “Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who is the fairest of them all?” And the resounding answer should be, “ME!!!”
Image courtesy of jesadaphorn : FreeDigitalPhotos.net