When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you criticise yourself? When you walk past a mirror or a window, what do you say to yourself? When you see your reflection or a photo of yourself, what do you think?
For most women we tend to say and think some pretty terrible and judgemental things when it comes to ourselves. Things that we would never say to a friend or even think when looking at our daughters. We are so harsh on ourselves and to no avail.
I used to be just like that. I was so critical of my hair, my skin, my nose, my hips, my cellulite and the list went on. I would tell myself that I was doing it to push myself to a higher standard, but instead, all it did was bring me down.
An exercise by Louise Hay completely turned that around. It’s called mirror work or what I prefer to call Playing with mirrors. The exercise itself sounds simple enough – look at yourself in a mirror and say I love you, at least ten times. That’s so easy I thought. Until it actually came time to doing it.
The first time I did (over fifteen years ago) I was about to walk out the door to a meeting. That was a big mistake! It brought up a bunch of self-hatred thoughts and emotions, almost like a volcano erupting. I burst into tears and literally ran away. It took me months before I had the courage to give it another go but by that time I was determined to see what might happen if I continued it for at least thirty days.
I’m happy to report that it changed my life, and is listed in my memory as one of the most powerful exercises I have ever done. The changes that occurred over those thirty days were pivotal in me turning my life around and over the years it’s had the same effect each time I have done it. This is why I just had to share it with you. So here it is:
Either first thing in the morning or last thing at night take a few minutes out of your day and create this as a daily ritual. Look deep into your eyes in a mirror and say out loud “I love you [insert your name], I really do.” So for me, I would say, “I love you, Tegan Mathews, I really do.” Repeat this, at least ten times, and do this exercise for at least thirty days, preferably more.
Now I can guarantee, regardless of who you are, this is going to stir up emotions, physical sensations and a gazillion thoughts. Initially, these might all be negative, but I can assure you that over time they will change to be kinder and more loving towards you. If you find this too difficult to start with, choose something else to say such as “Life loves you.”
Be prepared that this exercise will bring up your inner most fears and judgements and that’s ok. All you have to do is notice these thoughts and feelings, love them, and then let them go. I do this by writing them down and then throwing the piece of paper away because deep in my heart I know they aren’t true, and they are just my fear monkey talking. You might like to keep them and see how they change over the month. It’s up to you.
The goal is to eventually be able to stand in front of a mirror completely naked and love every inch of who you are, inside and out. If that sounds daunting, then just start with looking into your eyes, into your inner soul of who you are for now, until you arrive at a place where that is comfortable for you, then you can progress to your outer body.
Don’t make it too serious either. That’s why I call this playing with mirrors and not ‘getting serious with mirrors.’ Practice having a laugh at your reactions. Pull some funny faces. Try saying it with a big cheesy smile. Get curious as to what the results might be and how it might change your life. Look for changes that occur and note them in your journal. Acknowledge yourself for your progress. You’re doing great!
Don’t wait until you’re ‘perfect’ to do it either. I don’t want to hear excuses such as ‘I’ll do it when I lose ten kgs’ or ‘when I finish XYZ’. Do it now, start it now, because there will never be a perfect time or a time when you think you are worth it, that’s just BS that your fear is telling you. The perfect time is now!
Get excited. The ripple effect playing with mirrors can have in your life is nothing short of incredible. You will find that you start treating yourself better with food and exercise. You will suddenly stand up more often for what you believe in, and your decisions will align more with your core values. You will treat yourself and others with more love and kindness, which will then bring it back to you ten fold.
You can do this. You are worth it. I love you xo