Who do you see when you look into a mirror? Do you recognize the image of the person looking back at you? How long has it been since you really took time to view your own image? Are you familiar with your body’s changes and maturation? If not, how long has it been since you recall really seeing yourself?
Teaching your children to be honest with themselves, begins with you. As parents, we need to be honest with our own person. If we avoid being honest with our person, then our children will learn a lesson that it is okay to be dishonest with ourselves. If you are dishonest with another, you will know the truth, but you will have to live with that falsity. Ironically, if you are dishonest with your own person long enough, then this dishonesty will become your accepted truth.
When is the last time you submerged into you own person? How long has it been since you spent time intra-reflecting? Has it been a while since you spent time reflecting on your inner and outer being? Have you been capable of integrating your outer being with your inner being? It is a difficult task for many to see their outer person, much less their inner being. Why? When we see ourselves outwardly, our physical appearance, we see what others may interpret us to be. It is difficult for people to face their inner-beings. Not only is it difficult, but it is not uncommon for an individual to avoid facing their inner being. When we think of looking inwardly, it is more common that an individual will think on the negative, rather than seeing positive aspects of intra-reflection. For many, they will only see their flaws, blemishes, and the perceived negative changes that life has brought about. Whereas, few people spend quality time looking at the dichotomy of our makeup, the good and the bad, the yin and yang. If we desire personal growth and maturation, then we must be willing to go deeper than surface level, we must be willing to know and face our inner being.
An effective technique that I have used for many years, is what my patient/clients have come to know as “The Mirror Assignment.” What is this Mirror Assignment? The Mirror Assignment is the task of obtaining a mirror, whether a handheld mirror, or simply a wall mirror. The patient/client is then asked to face the mirror with the intent to be genuine. As the person is looking into the mirror, I ask them to reflect upon a positive affirmation specifically designed for them. For many, this assignment may feel awkward or down right bizarre. The importance of such as task is intra-reflection, facing one’s own self-image and interpretation of one’s outward and inner being. It is important that the individual says the positive affirmation with meaning, reflecting upon their inner and outer being throughout the process. In time, I have the patient/client add their own positive affirmations to the assignment, thus, creating an effective psychological tool that one can use throughout their life.
Believe it or not, it has proven to be one of the most effective therapeutic strategies. However, it is not an easy task, and as a therapist, I never require a patient/client to do an assignment. Rather, I offer effective strategies with an emphasize on health, growth, and personal development. I encourage my patient/clients to develop to their greatest potential. I have found that if a patient/client is not ready for an assignment, they will inform me. If we push our patient/clients before they are ready for such tasks, then we are at risk of creating problems for that person.
Such assignments are difficult, especially when we are encouraging patient/clients to be authentic and genuine within themselves. I have been informed several times, that such assignments have proven difficult, personally challenging, a bit scary, and many other descriptive words. It is prudent that you allow the patient/client, or yourself, to find a place of comfortability before challenging such an assignment. When a patient/client is ready, you will know it and the progression of their health will be on an upward shift.
The rationale behind anyone’s personal avoidance may vary: whether they are struggling with self-image or self-esteem issues; an eating disorder or disordered eating; insecurities or vulnerabilities; a paranoia or some other major psychological disorder; the ability to look deeply into one’s own self-image can prove a personal nightmare. Importantly, it is prudent that you take caution when offering such challenges, because a number of diagnostic issues may not gain from such a task. Again, it is of the utmost importance that you know your patient/client. You should know whether or not such a task will prove harmful or beneficial. For example, it is not advisable to ever use such a task with someone who is struggling from an eating disorder or a body dysmorphic disorder.
A proverb inspired by Cicero says, “The eyes are the window into the soul.” If the eyes are indeed the window into the soul, then looking at oneself in the mirror could prove one of the most unbearable tasks we have ever faced. Once we have learned to accept the image within the mirror, and the insights within one’s person, then-and-only-then will we be capable of facing all reflected images in our lives.
As individuals, I encourage you to spend some reflective time in front of a mirror on a daily basis. Spending quality time in front of a mirror, facing one’s challenges, tribulations, and trials, as well as, successes, triumphs, and achievements can prove an asset for one’s life. As we look inwardly, it is important to be honest, sincere, and willing to discuss within our own being the messages we have interpreted within our own life.
What good can be gained from intra-reflection? If I know myself, then I will know my needs, wants and desires. I will know when my body hungers and needs to be quenched. As I get to know thyself, I will know what is proving a stimulus or detrimental. The heart of the matter is, knowing thyself inwardly and outwardly allows for me to be the best role model in the life of my children.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA