I’m about to restart Louise Hay’s book “Mirror Work: 21 days to heal your life” (June 2nd). Admittedly, on previous attempts, I never finish the 21 days. Just another step along the journey of inner work I’ve been doing in 2020. What will be different this time? The accountability of doing it with a group!
At the moment, in my book club, we are reading “You can heal your life” – Louise Hay, as well as Mark Wolynn’s “It Didn’t Start with You“. We’ve already finished mBraining, by Grant Soosalu and Marvin Oka, as well as finished up this week “The Power of Eight“, by Lynne McTaggart.
While 2018 and 2019 were all about growth and healing, it seems that 2020 believes that I am not done yet.
Jumanji level inner healing work.
So, while I might have been able to keep busy and avoid it previously, I’ve been doing a lot of internal work over the past eight weeks. I guess this is one of the best (and worst) outcomes of being locked up in my house since Friday the 13th (of March).
Why get started now on the mirror work?
Mirror work is much more than just standing in front of a mirror and saying an affirmation. You can do it that way – it’s a great place to start if you’ve never done it before!
Whether you are aware of it or not, you are constantly affirming “truths” to yourself. These may be positive affirmations, but I’m going to bet, if you’re anything like me, there are many more negative ones than positive!
I’ve berated myself, slapping or tapping my head with “stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid”. That’s an affirmation. Not a good one. But it’s what I have told myself. Reinforcing some subconscious belief about myself and my abilities.
Affirmations are anything that you think or say.
So, whether you are consciously aware or not, all day long you are talking to yourself – telling yourself what to believe and think about yourself, the situation or others.
Affirmations are simply messages we give to our conscious and subconscious mind, to help write neural pathways. If you are trying out positive affirmations, you are trying to write new neural pathways of thinking or feeling about yourself.
I want to change that inner critic’s voice!
Mirror work allows me to mindfully notice my responses and reactions to affirmations and self-talk.
It’s a great idea when you are brushing your teeth, putting on your makeup or shaving, to take a moment a look into your own eyes. How are you? Really? What do you see?
Now, take a moment to stand up tall, rolling your shoulders back and allowing them to fall. Give yourself a smile in the mirror, and practice any one of the affirmations that you have chosen. Look in your eyes as you speak the affirmations.
Take the time to become aware of how you hold your mouth as you speak.
- Do you scrunch your nose or furrow your brow?
- Can you notice tension in your jawline?
- Do you choke on your words?
- When you look in your eyes, do you see a smile or tension?
- Is there resistance or flow?
How does it feel when you say it with a smile? How about with a frown? Then, turn the affirmation into a question, and notice what answer you give yourself.
For example, if your affirmation is “I love myself completely”, the question might be “Do I love myself completely?”. How is this true? What needs to happen in your life today for that to be true?
The beauty of affirmations and mirror work – talking to yourself – is that you get to work with your inner child. That vulnerable part of yourself.
And perhaps, most importantly, you get to see where it isn’t working.
Why affirmations don’t work
If you’ve been doing coaching or personal development work for long, by now you will have experienced for yourself or had someone else swear that affirmations don’t work!
And it’s true.
There are times and places that affirmations don’t work. Repeating affirmations doesn’t work because we say an affirmation and we don’t believe it. Not only do we not believe it, we resist it. We consciously (or subconsciously) tell ourselves: “but not for me”.
The whole reason for doing mirror work is to become aware of the resistance. To see it and experience it – in your face, where you can’t miss it.
There are affirmations that you might try to say that don’t ring true. In fact, for you, they are a blatant lie!
For some people, this might be “I love my body”.
If not, you might really struggle on so many levels with this affirmation.
Or perhaps the affirmation is “I am beautiful and confident”. Turn it around
- “Am I beautiful and confident?”
- “How am I beautiful and confident?”
- “When do I feel beautiful and confident?”
- “What do I need to do in order to feel beautiful and confident?”
How might you reword this affirmation so that it is true and you no longer feel the inner conflict? Perhaps you start by saying “I am willing to learn to feel beautiful and confident” or “I am learning to be beautiful and confident”.
But acknowledge within yourself and your body the resistance and “stuckness” of any affirmation that does not ring true. That you feel in your body “this is a lie”.
That doesn’t mean that an affirmation can’t be a stretch – but it shouldn’t be an impossible stretch. The affirmation needs to resonate with you.
If you aren’t ready to say “I love myself”, perhaps you are ready to say “I am learning to love myself” or “I am willing to learn to love myself”.
When affirmations aren’t working – there is some deep work that you can do! It’s a beautiful opportunity to grow.
Learning to acknowledge your weaknesses
A great way to start affirmations is to make a list of your perceived weaknesses or negative traits. These are things that you believe about yourself – perhaps since childhood. For some of us, these might be thoughts like “I’m not good enough” or “I can never learn new things”.
Make the list and then go through them, and see if there is a common thread or threads: “unworthy” or “no good”.
Then, take some time to just sit with your body, and starting at your toes, work your way up through your body till you find that place where you are holding this feeling or negative belief.
Are you willing and ready to let this belief go?
Breathe into that area, focusing your attention on the sensations that you feel and the emotion. Imagine that you can simply dissolve it and let it go.
Then, take a moment to write up for yourself a new affirmation – that is true for you, and breathe this positive affirmation back into your body. Into that very spot if you like.
This is simply one example of how you can use your own resistance and negative thoughts to rewrite your thoughts and emotions.
Another way that I put affirmations to work for me is through Denials & Affirmations. This is something I learnt through my spiritual studies with Unity & New Thought. Denial is a release and letting go of something, and is usually used BEFORE the affirmation.
So, it would go something like this:
I release the fear of growth and transformation, and I lean into learning to love myself.
Putting affirmations and mirror work into practice
Start off making a list of your strengths and weaknesses.
- Make time to breathe – to calm yourself and get in touch with you. Imagine you can breathe through your heart and that each breath in draws in love and compassion. And allow that to fill your lungs. As you exhale, imagine that this compassion expands up into your mind and your thoughts. And allow that compassion to guide you as you make say your affirmations.
- Use your strengths as affirmations, and work through your weaknesses. Your affirmations give you more confidence and help you stretch into growth.
- Build into your affirmations learning and becoming. Include what you are choosing to do and your intentions for each day.
- Include denials with your affirmations, so that you can release / deny / reject / let go as appropriate. This will strengthen the power of your affirmations.
- Smile at yourself in the mirror.
- Finish with “I choose to love me today, and the choices I make today will reflect this self-compassion.” Make it easy to say and believe.
Take time, at least once a week, just to look at yourself in the mirror. To really look deep into your own eyes.
Perhaps for the very first time. Have a good look.
A little compassion for yourself can go a long way!
Enjoy the journey. And recognize that one difficult hill does not make the road. It’s just a small part of the overall quest of life.
If you want support in this journey, have a look at my book club on Facebook. We will do the 21-day challenge together – that should be enough to get you started!