Mirrors are funny things, two dimensional fields that reveal not only our outer appearance but the complex dimension of our inner life/lives. If I am ever feeling stuck with a client I whip out my trusty old mirror and wow does that get a session going. Nothing is more confrontational that being in presence with ourselves in reflection.
I remember in college in a women’s studies course talking about how women in the 80’s would go to these special groups and use mirrors to look at their vaginas and I often sense my client would rather look at their genitals than their own faces in a therapy session.
The mirror, unlike a #selfie, does not allow for visual editing. In fact the #selfie is a fantastic response/reaction/construction to simple reflection - a delightful obfuscating performance of a version of self vis a vis the alluring hues of Juno or masking of Valencia. The plethora of examples of wanting to erase our actual presence and generate masks is a fascinating one from not only a therapeutic perspective but a personal one. I wonder what happens when we remove the filters and obfuscations of performed self and reveal to/revel in ourselves, our raw arising self, and our conditioned responses to it?
Unlike a #selfie the mirror shows us our own filers instead of #Gingham you have #shame instead of #Lo-Fi you have #badperson instead of #X-Pro II you have #failure and how then do these filters colour your view of self and subsequently the world?
Mirrors and working with ourselves in a mirror is a powerful way to gain instant access to our narratives of “self “ be it self loathing, self aggrandizing, shame, narcissism, rejection, pain, joy, equivocation, uncertainty, fixation, avoidance…etc. In that mirror what you see can be revelatory. You see the traumatised beaten child. You see the angry parent. You see the historical story of immigration. You see the dream. You see ash and dust and light and supernovas. You see the shameful act of having harmed another human being. You see a rapist. You see a liar. You see a performer. You see an imposter. You see the versions of yourself flowing, a duality of arising & changing inner self vs seen self in the mirror. It may feel like two bodies of water colliding as their inevitable course vis a vis gravity has brought them together in an endless churning and meeting of different currents, density and flow; this confluence, much like awareness is the touch point between your arising self and your self in the mirror. Understanding the touch point offers a profoundly effective portal into your inner processes.
Taking a personal inventory of oneself when looking in the mirror is a therapy life hack when it comes to getting swift access to that ways in which you show up for yourself, think about yourself and choices you make in interpersonal interactions. When actively choosing to look in the mirror you are making a distinct effort to see yourself and a distinct effort to hide from yourself. Your job is not to get caught in the drama of this act as much as your job is to notice HOW you do it. This is the key to shifting how you inhabit your sense of self, how you integrate the performance with your arising self, how you can create congruity between how you actually feel and how you show up in the world.
Learning to see the ways in which you impose upon yourself filters and narratives is a sure way to understand how your sense of self was generated and what the function of this self is. Have courage and see yourself, be with yourself rather than maintaining and performing an incongruent version of self. Go now and look in the mirror. What do you see? Who do you see? What does your confluence look like?