Mirror work provides us with the face-to-face contact we need to come to an understanding of who we really are. It allows us to see beyond the exterior to the true essence of what makes us unique and, through this, we begin to see how easy it is to accept and love ourselves just as we are.
Research shows a direct correlation between self-esteem, optimism, and resilience. In fact, in a cross-cultural study on life satisfaction and self-esteem, researchers discovered that by expressing personal emotions, attitudes, and positive thoughts individuals had greater strength in those areas and more.
In this article, I’ll share some practical tips on how you can use mirror work to raise your self-esteem and improve your happiness.
(This article is a guest post by Suzanne Blons of thebeautyshaman.com)
How I First Discovered Mirror Work
“Put a lot of makeup on her,” said renowned fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier to the makeup artist at a Revlon photoshoot in London. I was seventeen years old and crushed. As an international model, my self-esteem hinged on the opinions and back-handed comments from agents and clients like this one.
Even fashion models, the so-called epitome of physical beauty, can’t stand up under the pressure of perfection propagated by the industry. This pressure creates a wound in people that I call, the I’m not enough syndrome. I have it in spades.
At age twenty I decided to leave modeling with my self-esteem in tatters and head behind the camera as a makeup artist. Thus began my search for healing. In my search, I discovered mirror work.
The term mirror work was first coined by author and educator Louise Hay in her book, You Can Heal Your Life. The idea is to shift your negative thoughts to positive ones using a mirror.
When most of us look into a mirror, we repeat all the negative things we don’t like about ourselves. By switching this into saying all the positive things you love, you open the door to immense growth in self-esteem. Christy Barko, RN and Mindful Wellness Coach, had this to say about using mirror work with clients:
1. How to Love the Mirror
Standing in front of a mirror in a well-lit room, put your hands around your throat, as this is the fifth chakra of communication and speaking your truth, and recite, “I love you ________ (insert name).” Do this twenty times a day for twenty-one days and you will see a dramatic change in your self-love!
When I first tried this, I couldn’t get through one sentence, much less twenty. It shocked me that, as a mother of then two small daughters, I couldn’t say to myself what I hoped they believed about themselves. You can’t teach what you don’t possess.
As I worked on mirroring back to myself the love and acceptance I so needed, it wasn’t long before the mirror became my friend, and I started to believe I could in fact pass on the lesson of self-love to my daughters.
2. Use Affirmations Daily
To create affirmations, take a negative self-statement and turn it into a positive.
For example, “I hate how I look” becomes “I am beautiful inside and out and I take great care of myself.” I recommend using a handwritten notepad and writing down a list of affirmations to work on every day while looking into a mirror.
What is reflected back to you, is the new belief you are creating, and thus building a more confident and attractive future. If you need some ideas on what to write, try listening to Louise Hay using all sorts of wonderful affirmations.
3. Gratitude and Acceptance
If you watch the news, our world appears to be a massive disaster. There is little room for gratitude and acceptance when fear rules the day. Yet giving yourself large doses of gratitude when life gets difficult creates a safety net of love and acceptance to manage our oftentimes kooky world.
For example, during Covid-19 I lost my makeup artist business and had to move out of my apartment. My twenty-year-old daughter subsequently had to move in with her dad, and me with a friend.
The incredible upheaval and financial stress drove me to affirmations in mirror work that focused around gratitude for the challenges, and acceptance that I did my very best during a defeating time.
Turning supposed negatives into self-forgiveness, graciousness, and trust develops resilience and optimism that benefits everyone around us. My daughter is now doing great in her sophomore year of college and living with friends. The disruption in my living situation led to her finding her independence and direction in life.
Sometimes what appears to be a failure or tragedy, can turn into empowerment and freedom if we purposefully focus on the good!
Using the affirmations from mirror work in the ancient practice of meditation has a similarly uplifting effect on our so-called monkey-mind. A study by Filip Raes on four hundred adolescent students in Belgium showed that through meditation, “they had a noticeable reduction in depression, negative thinking, and stress.”
To meditate, sit comfortably in a quiet room, close your eyes, and focus on an affirmation that resonates with you for around twenty minutes. When your mind wants to wander off to other things, gently bring it back to the affirmation. It can help to use prayer beads to keep your mind focused, but no matter what you will probably find considerable resistance to just being still.
With consistency, you will come to treasure the developing positive voice inside you, and the calmness it brings.
Louise Hay says to start every day with journaling. As you use affirmations in your mirror work, write them down and keep track of your progress in your journal.
What affirmation do you find the hardest? Which one gave you the most loving feelings? What are your goals in mirror work and how do you want to grow in the next year?
The Chinese symbol for crisis and opportunity is the same, which speaks volumes on the benefits of using challenges to grow and become the powerful and beautiful person you truly are!
Mirror work, affirmations, gratitude, meditation, and journaling are all connected strategies to help you become happier and have higher self-esteem. It can be hard at first as you are uprooting long-held belief patterns that no longer serve you.
However, I can honestly say that I have more confidence now than when I was a model! How you feel has less to do with how you look, and everything to do with your belief system.
The stronger and more rooted you are in your positive belief system, the less grip our nutty world will have on you, and the more peace and happiness you will exude to the mirror and to others.
Suzanne Blons is a professional makeup artist, Beauty Writer, Speaker, and Stylist. Her clients include ABC, Target, NFL Films, CNN, FOX, and more. Suzanne is currently the Makeup Department Head at Gaia TV, an online consciousness media network based in Boulder, Colorado.