Updated: Oct 6, 2020
The mirror exercise is getting naked and looking in the mirror for 5 minutes, then writing down what you love about yourself. You can write down what you love about yourself as you stare in the mirror or after the five minutes are up. It's best to do it after to get the full effect of the exercise.
All the Feels
Long story short, it was harder to do this exercise than I thought. I don't mind being naked, but I do mind the mirror. A glance here or there doesn't bother me, but having to stare for five minutes brings up some feelings.
I felt insecure. At first, I wasn't sure what to do with my arms or my head. I thought, "Who stands in front of the mirror naked for five minutes? This exercise is ridiculous!" As time passed, I put my hands on my hips and checked out my body.
I felt indifferent. My body is my body. I often check it out a little before a shower but try not to dwell on my big moles or deep scars. I especially don't look at my muffin top - I store my extra fat in my stomach, so sometimes I look pregnant. It's a sore spot. Looking at my flaws, I felt no concerns. But I looked at my body's good qualities - my long legs, unique eye color, and thick hair - and I also felt nothing.
I felt ashamed. Why would I think this? Because I am not where I want to be. I don't want to be insecure or indifferent about my body. I want to LOVE my body, inside and out. I appreciate that my body can digest food and kickbox three times a week, but I have forgotten about the shape of my hips and the tone of my skin. Choosing to love the outside of my body is also something I must do daily.
I felt lucky and grateful. I have a cousin who lost a leg when she was in second grade. Her life was forever changed. I have all of my body parts, excluding my wisdom teeth, and all of my body parts function correctly. I am humbled to have more than I need to go about my daily life. I don't have a colostomy bag or a prosthetic arm, and I don't need crutches or a special diet. My body is incredible.
I felt love.
What Do I Love About My Body
Love is a strong word. I wish we had more words to describe the different kinds of love. My love for ice cream is different than my love for my husband. When I talk about love here, I am talking about a combination of what the Greek refers to as philia and philautia.
Philautia is the love of self or regard for self above others. Loving your body is a form of self-love. Society taught us that too much self-love is terrible, but we need some self-love to function correctly. We should love ourselves enough to workout, eat healthily, and dress nicely.
I struggled with this when I was a teenager; I thought I couldn't brag about myself, and that led me to always putting myself down. I had to learn the difference between bragging and self-love. When I allowed myself to be proud of my accomplishments, it gave me the confidence to love myself and stand up for myself.
If self-love is alien to you, it's easier to think of self-love in terms of philia. Philia is friendship, affection, or brotherly love. It is a love between equals. What do you love about your friends? You can rely on them; you have fun with them. You can have that same relationship with your body. You rely on your body to get you from point A to point B. Your body is working 24/7 to keep you alive. If it wasn't for your body, you couldn't do simple activities.
Love your body like you love your friends. When I was staring in the mirror, I remembered all the trials my body and I have endured. It's like it's my body and I am against the world. We are in this together and we can make it through anything.
So what did I love about my body? I loved my long legs, my womanly curves, my blue eyes, my scars that tell my story, my thick hair, my defined lips, my lean arms, my hair color that allows me to wear more color palettes than most, my healthy nails, my long torso, my broad shoulders, my muscular legs, my cute feet, my big round butt, and my wide hips.
Purpose of this Exercise
The purpose of the mirror exercise is for you to put your body in perspective. When I was suffering from an eating disorder, I saw my body as skinny and beautiful, but when I looked down, I saw the fat rolls and stretch marks. I couldn't accept my body for what it was. I couldn't even look at it!
If I don't look at my body, I can pretend it is skinnier, smoother, flatter, etc. than it is. When I'm in front of the mirror, I can't act. This exercise is for you to work on accepting your body with all its flaws. The more you look at your body and appreciate it for what it is, the easier it will be to love yourself.
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