Who Do You See in the Mirror?

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on November 10, 2011 4:27 pm

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

16 comments on “Who Do You See in the Mirror?”

  1. Helen Green says:

    This really struck a chord with me and spoke to me about some deep, inner thoughts and emotions. It has reminded me of things I have learnt in the past but have let slip as time goes by and life takes over. Thank you again for your meaningful words.

    1. Dear Helen Green,

      Thank you for taking the time to reply to my latest article. Isn’t it interesting that for some issues we must hear the over-and-over again until they sink in? I think this is the case for most of us. For a majority of us, it takes time and diligent perseverance to make something an intricate part of our being.

      Helen, I thank you for taking the time to reply to my latest article.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  2. Sheila says:

    I think we all just need to take more time to look at ourselves as you mentioned, the act of looking makes us think about it, whereas we often just pass by a mirror and check our hair. By making us be honest in our reflection we can ensure we are who we appear to be and in who we want to be for ourselves and as a role model for our children. I will take careful consideration next time I walk past a mirror 🙂

    1. Dear Sheila

      For many, the mirror becomes a fixture that we use for the “essentials,” but we forget how profound the experience can be when we look deeply into our being. I am certainly appreciative of your time and valuable feedback.

      May you have a truly blessed day.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  3. Eddie says:

    I have used the “Mirror assignment” when trying to overcome anger and hostility it was given to me by a friend and Psychologist a few years ago. It was amazing what I saw when I would find myself looking into the mirror when I was angry at my wife, family, friends, co-workers. I saw what every one else has seen my whole life when they say “you look scary when your mad”. I never believed that it was true! I as well learned not only to change my facial features when i was upset and mad but as well distubed by comments. The thing is I was instillnig these actions on my face into actions by those in my enviornment . as well as fear by all around me. Between God, Family, friends, and simple task such as “the mirror” tecnique I have changed my life and all towards the better1 Great article Asa!!

    1. Dear Eddie,

      I am sincerely appreciative of your time and feedback. I am also appreciative of your openness and candor. While it is difficult to face ourselves in the mirror, the inner person; it is much more productive to face our challenges than to ignore them. It sounds as though you have resolved some major challenges by looking deeply into your own person.

      Again, I am sincerely appreciative of your time and feedback.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  4. Dear Jackie,

    I am appreciative of your time and feedback. You are correct that it is important for us “…to focus first on how we feel about ourselves and (to) ensure that we are healthy within.” It is not uncommon for us to look to others for acceptance and approval. The media, some religious orders, friends, family, and life in general have bombarded us with the notion that what others think is or should be of importance unto us. Now, I am not trying to come across narcissistic, for narcissists have a skewed image of real health and happiness. In contrast, a narcissist is someone who exudes a healthy perspective, while maintaining an unhealthy self-image and sense of personal value. Whereas, a healthy individual seeks to be well within themselves, while avoiding harmful actions, and protecting others from possible harmful acts. Ultimately, a healthy person seeks to be healthy in order to lead others to a healthy lifestyle.

    I am sincerely appreciative of your time and valuable feedback.

    Warm Regards,

    Dr. Asa Don Brown

  5. Jackie says:

    Your article makes such sense. As the saying goes, ‘we must learn to like ourselves first, before we can expect others to like us’. Yet, so many of us care what others think, when really we need to focus first on how we feel about ourselves and ensure that we are healthy within.

  6. Joan Bourke says:

    I really liked your article Asa and I think that it has a lot of value for all of us and a great tool. From nursing for 40 yrs. and the many workshops that I have attended thru my job it has always been hard for people to speak about their positive attributes and easy for them to list the negatives. I was especially interested in the part about people with eating disorders as to whether the exercise of looking into the mirror would be harmful or benificial. We have a friend who has battled anorexia for over 25 yrs. and her self image is so distorted that it is hard for us to understand and I can see where looking into a mirror is not good for her. When she looks into that mirror she sees a fat person and we see a women who looks like she has just walked out of the death camps. If it was not for her husband and all her supportive friends she would have died years ago. With her in mind it would have been so wonderful if she could have had a healthy self image when she was a child and she never would have gone down this path so your article is really good food for thought for all of us.

    1. Dear Joan Bourke,

      I am sincerely appreciative of your feedback. It does sound as though you have had such an incredible experience in the field of nursing. As you are probably aware of, eating disorders can prove a tricky dichotomy of care. First of all, you have instruments such as the “mirror assignment” that can prove an effective tool, while on the other hand it can prove a detriment. When caring for a patient / client with an eating disorder, it is vitally important that you have an intimate knowledge of the person receiving the care. Secondly, it is important that you know this person’s limitations, boundaries, struggles, and triumphs. Working with the person from all aspects of their life. I have found that individuals struggling with eating disorders frequently have unresolved issues in childhood. I have met a few who mimicked their mother or their father, but for the majority, the eating disorder stemmed from an insecurity, an abuse, or some other major psychological trauma per childhood. Likewise, I have worked with patients who wanted to achieve a particular image (i.e. a model, actor, singer, etc). Often the image is of someone that they admire. For many, the path becomes blurred when striving to maintain a particular image, or the image becomes associated with something bad or difficult. Nevertheless, eating disorders and disordered eating frequently come with chronic psychological stressors that can be rooted to the initial causation of the obsessive nature.

      Again, I am sincerely appreciative of your time and feedback.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  7. Mel Lang says:

    Looking in the mirror helped me learn about the “me” on the outside and inside. Your words are encouraging. ML

    1. Dear ML,

      Thank you for taking the time to reply to my latest article. It is such an incredible experience to become one with outer and inner being. The more I learn of myself, unconditionally accept myself, and love myself; the more confidence I will have in my person.

      Again, I am sincerely appreciative of your time and feedback.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  8. Debbie says:

    Enjoyed this article. I can see how effective the mirror assignment could be on a person. I am going to give it a try. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Dear Debbie,

      I am sincerely appreciative of your feedback. Admittedly, I have been impressed by the success of some therapeutic tools, while shocked by the lack of connection with others. If indeed you do try this therapeutic instrument, I would love to learn of your experience.

      Again, I am sincerely appreciative of your time and feedback.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  9. Tracy says:

    I truly appreciate these encouraging words. We all too often forget that we have to believe in ourselves and who we are to create positive role models for our children. It may only take a few seconds to minutes out of our busy days to stop and remind ourselves what we like about ourselves. If you take pride in your strengths then those strengths will shine and inspire those around you, especially our children. Keep up the inspiring articles.

    1. Dear Tracy,

      Thank you for taking the time to reply my latest article. I really like your description of taking “…pride in your (our) strengths then those strengths will shine and inspire those around you, especially our children.” You are correct, for if we believe in our own person, then others will believe in you too, as well as, begin to believe in their own person.

      Again, I am sincerely appreciative of your time and feedback.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

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