The mirror often acts as both a portal and a barrier—a portal to our external appearance and a barrier to our authentic selves. For women, this relationship with the mirror can be particularly complex and fraught with challenges. Let's delve into why women often struggle with their reflections and explore a transformative exercise that can help you see beyond the surface to embrace your true, authentic selves.
Why the Struggle? Unraveling the Complexities:
1. Societal Standards: Society's relentless portrayal of beauty ideals through media and advertising can leave women feeling inadequate if they don't measure up to these often unattainable standards. A study published in the "Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology" in 2018 revealed that limiting exposure to idealized images of beauty on social media led to improved body satisfaction and self-esteem among participants.
2. Comparison Trap: The pervasive habit of comparing oneself to others, amplified by social media, can intensify negative self-perception. A study published in "Body Image" in 2020 found that upward social comparisons (comparing oneself to those perceived as more attractive) were linked to greater body dissatisfaction among women.
3. Internalized Criticism: Over time, women can internalize these external judgments, leading to self-criticism and a distorted self-image. A study in the "Journal of Counseling Psychology" (2017) highlighted the influence of self-compassion in reducing body dissatisfaction and negative self-perception.
Seeing Beyond the Reflection: A Liberating Exercise:
Step 1: The Letter to Your Authentic Self
Find a quiet space where you can reflect without interruption. Begin by writing a heartfelt letter to your authentic self. Express your thoughts, emotions, dreams, and aspirations without judgment or inhibition. Pour your heart onto the paper.
Step 2: Identifying Core Values
Revisit your letter and underline or highlight words and phrases that resonate with your core values, desires, and passions. These are the elements that define your authentic self beyond physical appearance.
Step 3: Creating a Vision Board
Gather magazines, images, or printouts that align with the underlined words and phrases. Create a vision board by arranging these elements in a collage that visually represents your authentic self and aspirations. This tangible representation will serve as a daily reminder of the richness that exists beyond the mirror.
Step 4: Daily Reflection and Affirmation
Place your vision board in a prominent location where you'll see it every day. Spend a few moments each morning and evening gazing at your vision board. Reflect on the values and aspirations it embodies. Repeat positive affirmations that reinforce your self-worth and unique qualities.
Step 5: Embracing Gratitude
Regularly acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, qualities, and the steps you take toward embracing your authentic self. Gratitude journaling can help reinforce positive self-perception and shift the focus away from the mirror.
Embrace Your True Essence:
The journey to seeing beyond the mirror is about peeling back layers of societal conditioning, self-doubt, and comparison. By engaging in this empowering exercise and focusing on your core values, passions, and aspirations, you'll gradually uncover your authentic self. Remember, you are so much more than what meets the eye - you are a complex, beautiful, and multi-faceted individual deserving of love and acceptance.
About the Author:
Remi Gibbs is an entrepreneur and a Life & Career Transitions coach that weaves self-care into her coaching methodology for the 40+ woman. She’s a writer, a co-host of the Conversations on Life, Work, and Love podcast, and a workshop/retreat host. She is a contributor to the Rio Grande Valley’s Valley Women Inspire magazine. Remi is driven by curiosity and loves learning. She is a self-proclaimed foodie, travel enthusiast, nature and animal lover, and a Chris Stapleton fanatic. Remi lives in Harlingen, Texas with her husband, two dogs, and four cats. For more information, visit www.renovatedrealities.com. Sign up for her newsletter and promotions here.