Before I delve into this doozy of an assignment I want to share my experience with you and you’ll see why this is important for your personal growth.
When I started seeing my counselor for my anxiety it surfaced that a lot of it stemmed from a lack of self love (which I knew I lacked already). I would spend hours reliving conversations wondering whether I should have said this instead of that or chastising myself for saying <whatever>. I worried if people liked me or not or what they thought of me. I felt so crazy on the inside I was sure you could see the crazy emanating off me like steam off a cup of tea. My need for acceptance and love from others was really quite sickening. My cup was empty and I was trying to take from other’s cups to fill my own. My worth centred around other people’s compliments and need for me. It was a bad time in my life.
My counselor invited me to get over myself and see the bigger picture: NOBODY REALLY GIVES A SHIT ABOUT ME. Maybe that’s not quite what he said but what I took from it was that people are all trying to live their own lives, figure their own shit out and dealing with THEM and THEIRS. They don’t have time to be sitting around after having coffee with me thinking, “She’s a bitch, she shouldn’t have said that to me.” They’ve already moved on and are thinking about the groceries they need to pick up, the work they need to finish, the sport they need to get the kids too, etc. The world and the people in it, do not revolve around me. And I was acting like it did. He was absolutely right. I needed to get over myself. My ego had taken the reins and was relishing in taking me on this anxiety trip fueled by fear and self-loathing. Shit had to change. And fast. He gave me homework and sent me on my way.
I also stopped at the library to search “self love” and “self-esteem” and the first book that popped up was Gabby Bernstein’s “Spirit Junkie.” I took that home, armed and ready to heal a very deep wound.
The homework given to me was Mirror Work, a tool touted by Louise Hay (and possibly developed by her?). It’s powerful and leaves you vulnerable so do this when you have no plans for the rest of the day or night. Add it to your nightly self care routine. It’s seriously LIFE CHANGING.
- Get Naked. Completely, unabashedly, 100% naked.
- Stand in front of a mirror. Full length is preferable but a bathroom mirror will do.
- Ignore the flaws. I repeat: Ignore The Flaws! There’s no room for staring at the moles, stretch marks, scars, cellulite etc here. This is about loving yourself, not shaming your body.
- Now imagine someone you love deeply. Your child, your mom, your spouse, your dog even. If you don’t have someone, try to imagine a past love or if not that, what deep love feels like. I’m sure you’ve seen a romance movie. Focus on the feeling of love.
- Project that feeling of love ONTO yourself. Stare lovingly into your eyes. Radiate love to that person staring back at you. Tell yourself whatever comes to mind. Perhaps it’s “I love you” or “I forgive you” or “You’re beautiful.” Give yourself 5 minutes to start with to get use to this assignment. Work up to ten minutes as the weeks pass.
- Do this every single day for 30 days.
Maybe this sounds simple and easy to you but let me tell you: it’s so fucking hard. I cried everyday for the first week. EVERY DAY. Staring into my eyes, telling myself I loved her when I didn’t feel that was difficult and made me very uncomfortable (hence the tears). But nothing grows inside our comfort zones so step outside yours and try it like I did.
I eventually found the source of my lack of self-love: 13 year old me and my suppressed feelings of abandonment plus my parent’s divorce. I imagined I was staring into the eyes of that sad, confused pre-teen and telling her how much her parents love her and how they did the best they could, even when it wasn’t enough. I asked her to let go of the anger and the resentment and to accept her parents, flaws and all, for the imperfect humans they are. I asked her to forgive and to see herself as worthy of love and acceptance. Can you see why I cried so much?! I was at my most vulnerable, naked in my bathroom, gouging into a 15 year old scar trying to heal it appropriately so that I could find peace in the present. It was powerful.
I also want to note a crazy experience that happened during one of these sessions. I was staring into my eyes when I felt myself shift. It was like I left my body and was lingering over my right shoulder staring back at this woman looking in the mirror. I was outside the experience, if you will, and completely separated from the feelings of the girl in the mirror. The feelings I got watching this exchange- present me talking to and loving on 13 year old me-blew me away. I was overcome with pity, not in a condescending way but in a “I feel so awful for what that teen went through and we’re still not done dealing with it? kind of way”. My heart was breaking for the sadness and loneliness that girl went through but I was no longer attached to those past feelings. It was then that I realized I had finally let go of all the bullshit that had been my pre-teen experience and only felt love and compassion for her. I knew we weren’t done in the healing process but we had made a huge leap forward. Does this sound crazy to you? Well, it was. It was nuts. I sat down on my toilet afterwards just thinking, “what the hell just happened there?”
After doing the 30 days of mirror work, my anxiety was substantially lessened both in frequency, duration and intensity. I smiled more and had better posture. I cared less about the stretch marks on my breasts and cared more about being the best version of myself on the inside. I committed to a self care regime that allowed me to spend time alone and enjoy being Kelsey. I wasn’t healed completely but this was a great first assignment. If you try this, I’d love to hear your experience of it! You absolutely will not regret it. Comment below!