For more than 10 years I avoided mirrors. I couldn’t even look at myself. I only made sure I looked presentable when I used a mirror, I couldn’t look into my face because I felt so ugly and hideous. I realize now why that is.
When I would look in the mirror, I would judge myself by how others had made me feel. I would look at myself with such disgust, my face was distorted and I could only see distain. People would tell me I was pretty but I couldn’t see what they saw. I wasn’t looking at them the same way I was looking at myself. Filled with harsh judgement, criticism and fury. I hated myself and I couldn’t even stand the sight of my face.
A few years ago I began to see how harmful this was to me. How abusive I was to myself. When I saw my teenage daughters looking at themselves in the same harsh and cruel way, I was forced to look at the fruits of my behavior.
I began to try and look past my flaws. I tried to smile. Then, I had a client who struggled with self love and confidence who asked for my guidance. I gave her an exercise for homework. I told her to look in the mirror, and, in her mother’s voice, tell her all of the words she needed to hear from her but never did. I couldn’t give her this advice without having tried it myself, so that very day I forced myself to look in the mirror and be nice to myself. What happened then would change my life forever.
I told myself how proud I was of me and how I am ok and I’m not doing anything wrong. I told myself how much I loved and appreciated myself and how beautiful I am. I told myself the things I tell my daughters that they can’t hear because their own thought forms and beliefs get in the way. They were following my example. I told myself everything I wished my mom were there to tell me, and I cried. I cried so hard when I heard those kind words. I cried so hard when I finally felt seen and supported. I began to understand that my miserable life was lacking the one thing that would make it better and bearable, my own support and self love.
Not long after doing this mirror exercise I began to set boundaries in my life. It eventually led to me fleeing from my home in fear as my awareness of the narcissistic relationship I was in became increasingly unbearable.
I love myself now. I see the beauty within me and I appreciate my external beauty, too. All of us need to appreciate ourselves more. Men and women need to cry and grieve the lack of love and support and start giving it to ourselves. We are all beautiful. We should treat ourselves as such.. It is painful when we tell people we think they are beautiful and they can’t accept it. We wonder why they can’t see how beautiful they are. Until they see it for themselves, you can tell them until you’re blue in the face and they won’t hear you. We only hear what we believe. We only hear what we are willing to accept. We will only accept the love we think we deserve. Until we raise our standards and begin to love ourselves fiercely, we will continue to allow ourselves to be abused and mistreated. The only way to make your life and your circumstances better, is to raise the bar on the kind of treatment and behavior you tolerate.
It starts with treating the person looking back at you in the mirror with unconditional approval and love.