Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
Mirror, Mirror on the WallAffirmations work, after all!
Two years ago, I was invited to be a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show to talk about the Law of Attraction. Joining me onstage were Martha Beck, the author of Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live; and Louise Hay, the author of You Can Heal Your Life and the founder of Hay House. During the show, as we talked about using the power of the mind to direct the course of our lives, Louise repeatedly emphasized the importance of learning to love oneself as a prerequisite to attracting joy, abundance, wellness, meaningful experiences, and the like. Over and over she suggested that, on a daily basis, audience members and viewers practice saying “I love you” when looking in the mirror. By the end of the show, I thought, I need to pay attention to what she’s talking about.
At 83, Louise is a wise soul—a woman who’s lived an extraordinary life that has inspired millions. I was moved and impressed by her conviction about the power of mirror work and affirmations. After all, it speaks to the importance of self-love and self-acceptance, which I consider to be the foundation of Extreme Self-Care. So, right then and there, I made a decision to take Louise’s advice to heart. I would start saying “I love you, Cheryl” each time I looked into a mirror every day for a month and see what happened.
For most people, the idea of telling themselves “I love you” as they look in the mirror is a tricky exercise. The thought of doing so can feel awkward or silly. It’s just not an easy thing to do. In fact, for several days after the show, I intended to practice Louise’s suggestion, but I kept forgetting about it. Then one night before going to bed, I was washing my face when I remembered my intention. Finally, with the mirror in full view, I looked into my eyes and said, “I love you, Cheryl.” Immediately I felt self-conscious, as if someone were watching. I tried it again and glanced away, feeling embarrassed. On my third attempt, I found myself focusing on the wrinkles around my eyes, the hairs that needed to be plucked at the edges of my brows, and the way my skin seemed to sag a bit at my throat. Great, I thought. My attempt at self-love has now turned into a critical assessment of my aging process. I was failing miserably.
After hearing how serious Louise was about the mirror exercise and seeing what she’d created in her own life, I felt inspired to take it seriously, too. So for the next 30 days, I decided to stick with it—I wanted to see what would happen if I practiced it on a consistent basis. Every time I came in contact with a mirror, I would look into my eyes and say, “I love you, Cheryl.” Whether I was washing my face, driving my car, trying on clothes in a dressing room, or looking at my reflection in my computer screen, I tried to look beyond the typical critical thoughts to the essence of who I was. By the third day, something interesting started to happen.
Each time I said “I love you, Cheryl,” I felt a little less awkward and a little kinder toward myself. It still wasn’t easy, but it was getting more comfortable. By the end of the first week, I noticed that the critical voices in my head had started to soften. When my mind drifted back to my flaws, I’d gently refocus my thoughts and remember that I was learning to love and accept myself rather than taking an inventory of what needed to change or improve. During the second week, this kinder, gentler perspective began to radiate out into my daily life. I was becoming more patient with others as well as myself. I was now able to steer my mind to the present rather than worrying so much about the past or future. And I was less apt to push myself to do things I didn’t want to do. Hmm, I thought, maybe this exercise isn’t so silly after all.
As I continued the practice over that month, an internal shift occurred. I started to develop a deeper, more loving relationship with myself. I noticed that whenever something happened that was stressful or upsetting, it didn’t bring me down so much or stay with me so long. Instead, I remained calm and steady . . . more able to find my center. When something frustrated me, I stopped feeding on the drama and just let it go. If someone said or did something hurtful, I spoke up right away. I also began to care more about what went into my mind and body, from avoiding depressing or violent news to choosing more nutritious food.
While the idea of doing mirror work and affirmations may seem more like a Saturday Night Live skit (remember Al Franken’s portrayal of Stuart Smalley?) than an act of self-love and acceptance, I challenge you to do it anyway.