Today I began Mirror Work. 21 days of intense exploration and affirmations to heal my inner child and learn to love myself. As I walk this path toward healing, I will journal openly and honestly. I will share my thoughts, my feelings, and my progress. I will expose my vulnerability and invite you to try it for yourself.
It was an introduction of sorts. I stood in front of the mirror, staring back at myself and having a conversation aloud. I told myself that I wanted to like myself, love myself, and I was actually excited to learn to do both. I wondered why I couldn’t just cut to the chase and simply state, I love you, and be done with it.
The accompanying meditation gave me a chance to visualize myself surrounded in love. Instead, I listened to a guided meditation about self-love. I saw myself as an innocent child and talked with her. I cried when I wished her a happy life, living without suffering and pain, because I knew what was coming to her. I had already experienced it. That’s why I am here now, trying to believe that self-love exists.
My second day comes with a writing exercise. I’ll share my responses as if I were writing in my journal.
Today I have been asked the question, what do I want that I am not getting? That’s a loaded question for me right now because there’s a lot going through my head. I think it might be easier to list them:
- More quality time with my husband and children – both together and with each of them alone.
- I want to go to bed every night when I want to instead of after my children fall asleep.
- I would really like to start working out again to get rid of my flab.
- I would love to work in a job where I have more time to connect with individuals and get to know them better instead of flying through each class period barely having a conversation with any one person.
- I want my life coaching business established and thriving now, but I’m still in the process of getting there. Mini-power steps, I know.
- I want to have a flexible time schedule with my career and home life.
- I want to have an abundant mindset when it comes to money.
The next questions are about deserving. When I was growing up and even into my current life, I had to earn things. For what seems like ever, I thought I had to earn love and value through achievement. Not until I proved myself, did I feel worthy of being loved or feeling like I was important – that I mattered to someone else. There was a dark period of time I experienced when I did not believe I mattered at all. I questioned if I should even be living. Reflecting back, I can see that I felt as if I didn’t deserve essential parts of life everyone deserves, including me.
Affirmations. I had no idea until today’s exercise that there were positive affirmations and negative affirmations. I always considered an affirmation to be something positive. With today’s exercise, I recognized how some of the stories I tell myself affirm negative thought patterns, keeping me stuck and unable to move ahead. Coincidently, I have been working with my classmate, who is coaching me, to recognize my controlling thoughts. With this work focusing on my pattern of control, I have been bringing awareness to how I use control to feel safe and comfortable. Today’s exercise was another step toward breaking old thought patterns and reprogramming new ones.
I needed this morning’s exercise. Today I released guilt, anger, worry, and resentments. With the guided journaling, I reflected about criticism, guilt, anger and fear. Where are they showing up in my life? Who in my life mirrors behaviors I find challenging? How are those behaviors mirrored back to me?
Again affirmations presented an avenue for me to explore how I have allowed negative thought patterns to keep me from healing or moving ahead. I created some positive affirmations from my negative thoughts, and here they are:
I release all fear of not reaching the place I want to be, living up to others’ expectations instead of my own, and fear of the unknown. I choose to create the best life for me and do so with courage.
I release all criticism of myself because it no longer serves me. Instead, I will move through life with grace and love, being kind to myself along the way.
Recognizing negative thoughts and their patterns has been an eye-opening experience for me. Since applying NLP strategies, along with the mirror work, I spot those self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors more frequently than ever before. It is empowering to take control.
I did my mirror work at lunch, not in the morning, so I feel behind today. I keep telling myself, give yourself grace, give yourself grace, you’ll see yourself in the mirror a lot today, so it’s okay! One powerful phrase repeated 100 times in the mirror today. I’ve got this. When I say it, it feels more believable today than it did just days ago. I love and approve of myself.
The corresponding journal exercise is all about lack of self-worth and criticism – that’s why I’m doing the mirror work, so I’m ready to take this on! Here we go:
How I talk down to myself:
- My arms are so flabby…more like wings than human arms.
- I hate that bump on my nose.
- My clothes look frumpy.
- Why can’t I make up my mind?
- It takes me FORever to write.
- Just a drink to take off the edge from the day.
- I have to prove myself, no matter what it takes.
How I think others see me in a negative way:
- Now that her mom is gone, Jess thinks she can air out all of the dirty laundry about the family.
- She puts so much time into her work, how does she have time for herself or her own kids?
- Why doesn’t she go to church anymore? What’s the deal?
- If she really loved her family, she would spend more time with them.
- If people really knew X about Jess, they would see her a lot differently.
Turn those negative opinions into positive affirmations:
- Now that her mom is gone, Jess thinks she can air out all of the dirty laundry about the family. When my mom passed away, I was on the brink of beginning the process of forgiveness. Once she passed, I realized I have a lot of inner work that needs to be done. There’s no hiding from it anymore. Mom’s passing opened the door to heal.
- She puts so much time into her work, how does she have time for herself or her own kids? I have learned over time to work smarter, not harder. I find my balance between work and family, spending the right amount of time I need to be successful in both areas of my life.
- Why doesn’t she go to church anymore? What’s the deal? I am able to feed my soul inside and outside of organized religion. Sometimes I need to be around my church friends, and other times I am comfortable being at home, logging in, or not logging on to virtual services.
- If she really loved her family, she would spend more time with them. I do love my family, and we all keep in touch whether it is through text, calls, communication apps, or in-person visits. We do what works for all of us.
- If people really knew X about Jess, they would see her a lot differently. My business isn’t everyone’s business.
Why I love myself:
- I am okay being vulnerable if it opens doors for others to do the same.
- I am working through generations of healing in order to break the cycle and live life better.
- I am a lifelong learner.
- I am creative.
- I am open-minded.
- I stand up for others.
- I am a kind and loving person.
- I am authentic.
- I want to be better.
- I love helping and serving others.
Why people like to spend time with me: (This one is challenging for me to think of ideas)
- I am easygoing.
- They talk, and I listen.
Boy, today’s work has me thinking of ways I love myself – not a topic I’m familiar with. I peeked in the next pages. Tomorrow I’ll be working on releasing my inner critic. Definitely need tools to do that.
Quieting the inner critic is the driving force for today. We begin with listing ways I criticize myself followed by when I started criticizing:
- Don’t take a day off because you are sick when you hardly have any sick days left. Do you even have sick days left after burning through most of them from getting Covid and then grieving for mom’s death back-to-back? Just wear your mask, take some medicine, and deal with it. (Since December 2021)
- Why can’t you get up early and work out? You’ve done it before. HIIT workouts were your jam – what happened? Start toning! (Uh…since forever!)
- It’s the kids’ bedtime already?! Did we even get any individual mom-kid time? What the hell, Jess. (My goodness – at least since the kids were in early childcare)
- This house is a mess. When are you getting off your lazy butt to clean? (Gosh…I feel like this is a loop that has been happening since I moved out of my childhood home)
- I hate that bump on my nose, the circles under my eyes, and my flabby eyes. (Always, forever)
Geesh! I’ve been criticizing myself for some of those for as long as I can remember! The next part of this journaling exercise is to turn these criticisms into positive affirmations. Here we go:
- Don’t take a day off because you are sick when you hardly have any sick days left. Do you even have sick days left after burning through most of them from getting Covid and then grieving for mom’s death back-to-back? Just wear your mask, take some medicine, and deal with it. It’s okay to take off when you are sick. Your health comes first. When you are healthy, you can care for others who depend on you. Your health and well being trumps taking an unpaid sick day.
- Why can’t you get up early and work out? You’ve done it before. HIIT workouts were your jam – what happened? Start toning! You have been walking outdoors a lot lately, which feeds your creativity and soul. Pick 1-2 days for HIIT or other toning workouts in place of your walks. The time is already built into your schedule.
- It’s the kids’ bedtime already?! Did we even get any individual mom-kid time? What the hell, Jess. Start setting aside time each day for you and each child to spend individualized time together. Make it intentional and a priority. Come to expect this time together as sacred.
- This house is a mess. When are you getting off your lazy butt to clean? Your house is pretty clean, despite your view of what it looks like. Consider assigning one day a week to do household chores, spread them out over the week, or enlist the help of your children.
- I hate that bump on my nose, the circles under my eyes, and my flabby arms. You are beautiful the way you are no matter what.
Day 7 – Review of the first week
Today’s mirror work celebrated the journey to here. I admit I feel the difference my inner work is doing for me. It’s not as awkward facing myself in the mirror and pouring out my love to the girl looking back. In fact, sometimes I smile and laugh – not because I feel silly, but because I am starting to believe in myself after all of these years. I am even more aware of my affirming thoughts – both positive and negative. Raising awareness and recognizing my thought patterns is a game-changer.
Though success is happening, I continue to struggle with fear. In Louise Hay’s book, The Power Is Within You, Louise shares four problems or thought patterns that hold people back. When I boil down the loop of negative affirmations in my mind, I believe fear is the driving force blocking me. Some examples include fear of lack, fear of failure, fear of being unloved, fear of falling short, and fear of full autonomy, to name a few. Part of this week’s journal exercise is to take these struggling thoughts and turn them into positive affirmations.
Rewriting fear can be tricky when it shows up in so many places of life. If I begin with love as the ultimate positive affirmation, maybe my new thought loop could be I am loved. I am worthy of unconditional love. I accept and approve of myself. I am capable of everything I set my mind to accomplish. I fail forward and learn from my mistakes. I am open and willing to receive the highest good set forth in my life.
As I think about all of the inner work I have done in the last week, I celebrate. I started on the first day wanting to speed up and jump ahead to the main event. It’s in the process where I discovered the feelings of love appear, not in the words alone. I am excited to begin the second week of mirror work. Will you join me?