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The Two Faces in the Mirror

Damask mirror

Courtesy of Venicio Inc.

A mirror is a quite useful object and without one it could create a large amount of inconveniences. Mirrors help us get ready in the morning, they assist us while driving, and can even help us see what is around corners.  Mirrors also have multiple metaphorical meanings. In my last post, I discussed how when finding fault, we should try to first point at the mirror (click here to read the post). A mirror definitely shows our flaws but it can also help us improve what we see. If there is something wrong with our appearance, the proper action can be taken to fix it. Similarly, a mirror can help metaphorically us as well.

One great technique I use while working with clients during the session, is to request them to stand up, walk over to the mirror, look at themselves directly in the eyes, and say “I AM PROUD OF YOU”. Strangely enough, it is a difficult task to accomplish. I have had clients who were in tears and asking themselves why it was so difficult. However, with continued encouragement, all of them were eventually able to complete the task.

If there is something with which I am able to relate, it is this. For years, shaving was one of the worst parts of my daily routine. I made it a habit not to look into my eyes. It made me very uncomfortable. But the truth was that all of the discomfort was self-imposed. I didn’t understand how shame – the negative things I learned to believe about who I was – created this difficulty.

The mirror was not the cause of the problem. What other function did it have than to reflect back everything it was seeing? The mirror did not exaggerate any peculiarities. If there were anything awful, it was based on my perception and not what the mirror was doing or saying. I chose to see the flaws, weaknesses, and shortcomings and gave them top priority. I wasn’t doing this intentionally but the shame had convinced me that all these negative things were true and once we perceive something to be a fact, there is no reason to change it.

There is, however, a simple antidote. By forgiving ourselves we can begin to heal from all of the shame that was piled on us. Even if at the time we truly believed that somehow we deserved all of this mistreatment, we were still trying to do the right thing. By understanding this and forgiving ourselves, we can now look in that mirror and say, “I AM PROUD OF YOU!”.

This is not arrogance. Wouldn’t you want a good friend to be able to do the same thing? We all should be able to look at that mirror, literally and figuratively, and say that we are proud.  Yes we are always a work in progress but we need to recognize the personal efforts and have self-validation.

It’s possible there are more than two faces in that mirror but metaphorically speaking, we can use it to find our flaws and appreciate our strengths. As always, I look forward to your thoughts. If you’d like to know more about shame, I’ve written a book on how I learned to overcome mine. It is called, “Shame On Me – Healing A Life Of Shame-Based Thinking” and can be found on Amazon (click here for the link)

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