Finding a New Purpose for the Mirror

I was feeling great one San Francisco night when I ran into some childhood friends. My enthusiastic greetings were met with icy stares and cold words, and our encounter quickly went sour. They began to beat me. My face was their primary target, and each strike left me more hurt and confused. Bleeding and blinded, I was abandoned on the cement. 

I went through numerous surgeries and even temporarily gained my vision back, but blindness won the battle. I spent the first couple months questioning everything I knew. The attack had not only taken its toll on my career, relationships, and lifestyle, but it had hurt my self-image as well. To me, blindness and beauty had never gone together, and I began to think I was ugly. Being blind had handed me another burden.

The End of the Looking Glass’ Power

Mirrors really started to drive me nuts after I’d been blind for about a year. I felt their presence everywhere, their cold glass mocking me. For 26 years, mirrors had taught me how to pose for pictures, smile, and style my hair. Mirrors had, subconsciously, dictated how I felt about myself.

Now, I had no idea what I looked like on a day-to-day basis, and, instead of taking the positive approach — assuring myself I looked great — I spiraled down into a wave of negativity concerning my appearance. Once I started to let mirrors haunt my self-image, it seemed impossible to make them stop.

But alas, a turning point came after a night of dancing. I patted my face dry and positioned myself where I knew the mirror hung. It occurred to me that I had the power to get rid of every last mirror in my home, but I quickly realized how inconvenient that would be for my friends and family — and, honestly, that was letting that little reflective glass win. Instead, I decided to recondition how I used mirrors by giving them a new purpose — one that would erase my negative feelings. I would compliment myself whenever I knew I was near a mirror.

A New Use for Mirrors

So many people use mirrors to bring themselves down, allowing the glass to magnify every small flaw. And anything can be as pain-inducing as a mirror — we let awards, size labels, other people’s success, and money make us question ourselves. By complimenting myself every time I encountered a mirror, I gave myself the power to remember what was good about me.

We live in a visually-oriented world, so I’m not saying it’s realistic to just disregard one’s outward appearance. However, if you can compliment yourself every time you look in the “mirror,” whatever that may be for you — whether that compliment focuses on a physical trait or a personality characteristic — I guarantee it will lose its negative impact on your life.

Here are some tips I’ve found helpful:   

  1. Close your eyes. Sometimes, judging your image, abilities, or circumstances doesn’t stop when you step away from the “mirror.” You might continue to contrast your appearance with people you encounter throughout the day. If this happens, just close your eyes for a few seconds and remind yourself of the qualities you possess.
  2. Conquer all screens. Televisions, phones, and computer monitors are all just as bad as mirrors because, apart from their powers of reflection, they all show beautiful people that we admire. Don’t let feelings of inferiority well up around screens. Instead, opt to focus on things people have complimented you on.
  3. Beat the bathroom. Bathrooms and locker rooms are places where feelings of ugliness can creep up because our attention tends to veer toward our bodies — and others’ — leading to instant judgment. If you feel this is about to happen, recite those positive words back to yourself. Distraction can be a powerful tool against the challenges you may face.
  4. Keep it varied. Sometimes, it helps to recite three physical affirmations, compliment three things about your personality, or remember three good things you have done lately. Changing the pattern keeps you on your toes and constantly reminds you of who you are, which is much more important than any external circumstance you may find yourself in.
  5. Compliment yourself, rain or shine. Don’t just compliment yourself when you feel down. Focusing on positive attributes — even on good days — will really make you beam. And if somebody’s having a bad day and decides to take it out on you with an insult, build yourself up again with an affirmation. You should have the biggest influence on how you feel about yourself.

A New Perspective

Mirrors used to only remind me of my disability and create a great deal of insecurities for me. Fortunately, by giving the looking glass a new purpose, I was able to turn those insecurities around and create a positive self-image for myself. Now, I also make a point to compliment friends when I know there’s a mirror around, as I know how critical people tend to be toward themselves when they’re around mirrors of any kind.

Ultimately, if you don’t cheer for yourself, no one else will. Rather than letting the mirror feed your negative thoughts, commit to giving yourself at least one compliment per day. It’s a domino effect: The people around you will begin to feed off that positive energy, seeing the real you — and you will, too.

Recent Posts by Belo Cipriani

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