So much of our self-esteem is deeply connected not only to the mental messages we give ourselves about ourselves, but also to how we practise self-care on a regular and consistent basis. When our days are filled with moments that remind us to love ourselves, we feel at home in our own minds. We come to intimately know the thought patterns that no longer serve us. We can see the areas in life where we need more self-love and self-kindness. It is in our commitment to creating a clear and honest mental state that we find the opportunity to improve our overall health and wellbeing.
We can develop fit and muscular bodies, but what does it matter if our mental messages are ones of “not thin enough” or “not strong enough”? We can build formidable business legacies, but how fulfilled will we ultimately feel if our only self-reminders are those of insufficiency and lack? We can even nurture beautiful families who represent our best ideals and ethics in the world… and what good is it if we fail ourselves by believing that we are unworthy of love and belonging? Are you seeing a trend? That’s right – not enough, not enough, not enough.
Talk about making ourselves sick!
Consider for a moment how much of the day you spend observing life as if it is happening “out there.” We spend too much time “doing” and not enough time “being.” But it is only in reconnecting with being that we can more clearly see our thoughts and barriers to mental health. Does this remind you of your day: running errands, attending to professional obligations, keeping household, raising children, caring for family, going to the gym, eating, sleeping, waking, repeating?
So then let me ask you, when was the last time you looked back into your own eyes? When was the last time you spent time alone with the introspective intention to create more mental peace and clarity? Think about it.
Robert Holden, PhD encourages a practice called mirror work in order to return to a state of self-love and to deepen the relationship with self; the relationship which, as Holden notes, determines the health of every other relationship in our lives. It goes something like this:
Create a safe space for yourself and find a clean mirror. Breathe deeply. Inhale, look into your own eyes and say, “Life loves you,” then exhale. Pay attention to whatever happens in your body or what messages your mind starts sending. Every experience is valid. Repeat the affirmation a total of ten times, slowly, confidently, and with self-kindness. Add on other affirmations in the same way and cultivate a daily practice of mental wellbeing.
Holden’s mirror work strategies can be found at http://www.robertholden.org/blog/what-is-mirror-work/.
Some people say this exercise is “weird.” But what’s more strange: being unwilling to offer ourselves daily messages of love and respect or facing the discomfort, looking ourselves in the face, and speaking our truth?
The choice is yours.
Billy Rosa is a Registered Nurse, Integrative Nurse Coach Visiting Faculty, University of Rwanda