We’ve all had times in our lives where we did not love ourselves. Sometimes, we hate to even look at ourselves in the mirror. But even so, I was surprised recently when I was teaching a Zumba class and I noticed one student left around 15 minutes into the class. The next week I received this email from him:
Thank you so much for the class. I chose to leave, and I wanted you to know it had very little to do with you, except for the fact that you chose to have us look in the mirror. I hadn’t remembered how awful I am in front of mirrors. I had to leave when I caught a glimpse of myself. It’s old stuff, but it’s a weak-spot for me. I cannot sustain, as of yet, images of my physical form in mirrors. I really appreciated the class and found your enthusiasm infectious. Thanks.”
I know how it feels. I have been there myself… and so I was compelled to reply:
“I believe you need to start working on self-love. Unless you are a vampire, you cannot avoid mirrors. Most gyms and fitness studios have mirrors; you can’t escape them. It’s not about vanity; looking in the mirror helps you improve your form and visually gauge your progress. If you don’t examine yourself, you have little indication of what to improve. You are here to realize your true potential, and looking at yourself in the mirror with love is a powerful tool. Love yourself no matter what, and be grateful for having a healthy body. Be grateful for the fact that you are able to move, to breathe, to simply be alive. When you appreciate what you have, you give up all of the guilt, blame, shame and self-criticism that do not serve you. The choice is yours; you can choose to live your life with your head in the sand, or to confront what you need to work on. In order to feel better, in order to become your dreams and live the life you deserve, you need to look at what is happening with you.”
Most nights I go on YouTube and listen to things that empower me, like Abraham Hicks, Deepak Chopra, Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer, and so on. We have all gone through difficult times in our lives. I know I have. But it is how you get up, not how you fall, that defines you. Getting up is what matters. Working on you is just how it sounds; it is work. But it is so worth it; meditation, self-exploration, dressing nicely, pampering yourself, working out and eating healthy food all make you vibrant and will change your life.
You need to want to change and YOU have to do the work, my dear. There is no magic pill. Life will put “mirrors” in front of you. People will reflect emotions back at you: when you are angry they will get angry back at you, and when you smile they will smile back. It’s all good because it helps you look at yourself and improve what you do not like to see in you. People also will reflect kindness at you, helping you to notice and appreciate your inner beauty. It’s up to you to “wake up”; open your eyes to the lessons and to a brighter reality. No seminar, self-help book, audio program, DVD, or human being will validate you. It will help direct you, but you need to validate and love yourself. It’s up to you. Believe in yourself like I believe in you.
When I was having difficulties with my self-worth, I learned an exercise called “mirror work” from Louise Hay. I did it when I was in a place in my life where not only could I not look at myself in the mirror, but I was walking with my head down! I remember when I started working on self-love and self-acceptance and saying “I love you” to myself in front of a mirror, I immediately started crying because I was so consumed with self-hate and self-judgment. I am happy to report that this affirmation (with some repetition) completely shifted my perspective. Today I love the girl I see in the mirror, even in pajamas and without make-up. Do this exercise every time you pass by a mirror, and I promise you, within just a couple weeks you can create a breakthrough for yourself.
Every day, look at yourself in the mirror and say out loud: “I LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU NO MATTER WHAT.” When you hear that voice that says “Who are you kidding?” tell this voice “Thank you for sharing” and continue on. No matter what you did or did not do, you are worthy of love. If something good happened, run to the mirror and say “I love you, thank you.” If something bad happens, run to the mirror and say “I love you, I love no matter what.” Keep looking into your eyes with love and appreciation. You are worthy of love, just because you exist.
Remember this simple equation: work on your mind + work on your body + serve others = a life full of love and fulfillment.
I want to hear your stories. Please share how you found self-love and appreciation and any techniques that worked for you.