My Mirror Experiment
Mirror mirror on the wall...I'll avoid you at all costs...
That's how I used to think. I would look in the mirror to do my hair, brush my teeth, make sure my clothes matched, but overall stayed away as much as possible. I didn't like what I saw. I didn't like who I saw. Looking in the mirror would release a flood of negative thoughts and emotions, sweeping my happy feelings away in a flashflood of shame and victimization.
One rather chilly afternoon, I was listening to a talk by Louise Hay and she said something that caught me off guard. Her simple, but profound statement would alter my life - in a very short amount of time. She said that babies love themselves and we have forgotten how to do that. I'm a mother of five kids. I've seen my own little ones give themselves big, slobbery kisses in the mirror, right after sucking on their own toes. When they see themselves, they smile! What a concept! She then challenged everyone to look into the mirror every day and say with a big smile, "I love you. I really, really love you."
The nearest mirror was only a few steps away. I shuffled up to it - feeling very silly - and said to myself, "Faith, I love you. I really, really love you." The silliness of it all faded away as I looked into my eyes and could see that little child who was longing to hear those very words...so I said it again.
The next day, I went a step further and braved the full-length mirror. I figured that if babies can love themselves enough to suck on their own toes (ew), I could tell myself I love my body. Having participated in Tony Robbins workshops, I knew one of the key changes to attitude is getting in a positive mental state. I jumped up and down a bit, making excited noises. Across the room, my nine-year-old gawked at me while getting ready for school. Jumping in front of the mirror with my whole body I proclaimed as excitedly as I could, "I love my face! I love my hair! I love my arms! I love my stomach! I love my legs!" When I got to the part about loving my butt, my daughter broke in, "Mom! Stop! What are you doing?!"
By this time, I was actually starting to feel more love trickle in so I turned on my heels and exclaimed, with open, sweeping arms, "I'm loving myself and you should try it!" She rolled her eyes and went back to what she was doing, mumbling something about me being embarrassing. I went back to my self-love proclamations.
After two weeks of giving myself some mirror-love each day, I noticed a big difference in my confidence and how I was interacting with others. I was moving away from a place of shame and fear and really liked what was happening, so I kept going. At three weeks, I noticed I was winking at myself and saying things like, "Well, hello there beautiful" when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I little rush of joy would come over me each time.
Then it happened. I was coming down the hall about a month into my practice to hear my little daughter in the living room saying, "I love my legs. I love my tummy..." I didn't want to interrupt or embarrass her, so I quietly went back down the hall - skipped back down the hall is a more fitting description. Working on loving myself was paying off in ways I had never even imagined.
Do you have a self-love practice? I'd love to hear what practicing self-love has done for you and your loved ones. I'll keep you updated on how my practice evolves over time.