We do it all the time — that is, catch a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror. Whether in the bathroom, hallway, rearview mirror, or store window, it’s a part of our everyday lives to look at reflections of ourselves. “How am I looking?” checkpoints are natural and normal. But what do we really see when we look in the mirror? How do we feel about it? And who is looking back at us?
The simple act of looking in the mirror can tell us a lot about ourselves. The value that the person looking back at us places on beauty and attractiveness — and what it says about our status, success, and worth — can be a game-changing factor, especially as we age.
But now, if you’re ready to see how “mirror talk” can either become an asset or a liability as you get older, here are five steps you can take:
Step #1: Tune In and Take Inventory
Let’s begin to break down the conversation between you and the person looking back at you in the mirror. What do you say to them? (I am using the plural to encompass all genders.) What do they answer? What, if anything, can you do to win their love, respect, and approval? Do they say insensitive, radical, and/or hurtful things to you? Do they constantly put you down; or try to flatter, placate, or pump you up with grossly inflated, sugar-coated compliments?
Step #2: Invoke the Voice of Genuine Self-Compassion and Appreciation
Forget what these other selves have to say. Take a moment to note some of your best and most wonderful qualities. Be specific! Point out a few of the things that are terrific about you, and follow it up with a “You’re fabulous!” . . . and a knowing smile and a wink.
Step #3: Know That It’s Okay That You’re Not Perfect
Release any form of self-criticism and deprecation by addressing all the ways in which you’re not perfect. Make not being perfect okay. None of us are.
Step #4: Congratulate Yourself for Stepping Up to This Opportunity
You’re now able to see yourself as you truly are: perfectly imperfect. This reconciliation of your worth will help you end wars of self-condemnation that have raged on for far too many years at too great a cost, silence the voice of harsh self-criticism that keeps you down, free yourself of self-distortions that make you more or less than who you really are, and provide you with a stronger sense of integrity.
Step #5 Practice Kindness Toward Yourself, and Make the Mirror Your Friend
The only thing that should be coming from the guy or gal looking back at you in the mirror is kindness, patience, affection, understanding, appreciation, and love. The rest is all just noise.
Warmth, affection, warm smiles, and soft laughter are all acceptable when it comes to mirror talk — and nothing else. If you find yourself falling back into old rants, name-calling tirades, harsh judgments, self-criticism, or condemnation, do your best to put a lid on it. Replacing a smirk or scowl with a kind word and a smile will allow you to make peace with your reflection.