“Stand in front the bathroom mirror and look at your face. Look directly into your eyes and repeat the following statement five times: ‘You are beautiful and I love you.’ Do this twice a day; once in the morning, and again before you go to bed.” These were my therapist’s instructions. I gaped in horror as she let this information sink in. Look in a mirror? I hadn’t even glanced sideways at a mirror for years. My reflection in anything: a mirror, a window, even someone’s sunglasses, repulsed me. The thought of viewing my reflection on purpose made me nauseous.
The first time I did this exercise, I collapsed in a heap on the bathroom floor, howling in pain. I hated myself so completely I couldn’t even look. Then, I got up and stood there, not able to look myself in the eye, taking in the horrid creature I’d grown accustomed to ignoring. It was excruciating to look at myself. Unable to see anyone worthy looking back, I spat the words at the mirror. The pointlessness of the exercise filled me with rage.
It was weeks before I felt anything besides anger and loathing. Several times, I picked myself up off the floor and forced myself to look into my own eyes. Sometimes, I refused to look at any other part of my face, and focused on my eyes. Often, they were puffy and red from crying. Other times, I squeezed them shut and numbly chanted the statement, not believing a word of it.
At least twice, I crossed my eyes in frustration, doubling the pain. Despite my yearning to throw a rock at the mirror, I kept my promise, as long as I wasn’t prescribed anti-depressants. I practiced the assignment, and recited the dreaded phrase until I finally began to believe it. The first minor breakthrough took a month. Immediately, my therapist noticed the change in my face, especially in my eyes.
Standing at the mirror every day was vital. I repeated the mantra until the first glimmer of self-acceptance kicked in. Gradually, I felt a perceptible shift in my emotional state.
After several weeks, I smiled at my reflection for the first time. That small gesture brought tears. That morning, I noticed my eyes shone bluer. As I chanted my daily mantra, the darkness began to fade away. Life was looking up, and more positives came my way. This simple sentence had the power to change my perspective, and awaken my long lost self-love. Inside that terrifying looking glass, I discovered someone amazing.