I used to avoid all mirrors, except for the moment I would wake up in the morning and allow the mirror judge me on how my entire day would unfold. If I looked skinny and I could see my abs, it was going to be a good day. Bloated stomach or slouchy posture translated — or dictated rather — a terrible day.
I gave mirrors in my life more power than they deserve, which in turn, created fear. I avoided mirrors because more often than not, my perfectionism caused me to walk away from a mirror feeling worse about myself than when I approached it. Many people do not believe me when I tell this story, but I literally would not even look at my reflection when I washed my hands; I would keep my eyes intently staring at the sink to avoid the abusive self-judgement I would put myself through upon looking at my reflection.
The funny thing about mirrors is that we don’t always see what is actually there. Mirrors are tricky entities. They deceive our hearts and our understanding of ourselves, and for some, like myself, their reflections are actually distorted by our own minds as if we aren’t careful. I am not exaggerating about my own experience, and what you need to know is that I essentially look and weigh the same then as I do know. The fact that I had a toxic relationship with my reflection wasn’t rational, but that doesn’t negate the severity of the toll that it took on me. It’s possible to change your eyes and how to see your reflection, but it takes work.
I didn’t want to address my toxic relationship with the mirror, but I was forced to. Once I became a trainer, and my relationship with food and with my body had improved, most of my days were spent spotting my clients in front of mirrors. The gym is one big mirror, and it was terrifying. It challenged all of the positive growth that I had made in my other fitness relationship areas, but, I wanted to be an example to my clients, so I embraced my fears.
Our relationship with the mirror depends upon balance. Too much mirror love turns us narcissistic, and too little turns us into self-depricating nannies. The importance of our relationship with a mirror, while albeit seemingly superficial, is actually of a much deeper quality. We too often allow reflections of our external image to impact the real reflection of our internal image — we confuse the two and loose sight of what really matters when we think about our true selves. If we allow a mirror to affect whether or not we feel “good” about ourselves, then we really don’t know our true selves well. Your internal reflection should be rock solid, unable to be wavered by a funky reflection or bad hair day.
Let the reflection you see be that of your true self, and, the next time you look into a mirror, smile, no matter what you might see in your superficial reflection. Strive to achieve balance in your relationship and understanding of your reflection: embrace the external beauty that you see in yourself, and, at the same time, never forget to acknowledge the deeper, more beautiful reflection of your internal self that only self-aware eyes can see.