With February just a couple days away, it’s time for me to take a serious look at love. Not the sugary, commercialized romantic version that’s being thrown at me everywhere I look, but self-love.
To be honest though, what could I possibly say about it? It’s never really been in my wheelhouse. I’ve always been good at loving others, sometimes to a fault, but loving myself is a concept and feeling I’m only just now becoming familiar with. So what would I know about it?
Very little. And that’s the point. But I’m constantly being reminded to “take action,” so I’m going to, in the form of month-long challenge for myself.
I had an epiphany the other night…or maybe even a moment of claircognizance. It was one of those times when a bunch of things you’ve seen, heard, read, or discussed recently all sort of come together at once to form a picture, like several pieces of a jigsaw puzzle instantly fitting together to reveal a smaller, but key part of the bigger picture…whatever you call that…it’s where the inspiration for my challenge came from.
One of those puzzle pieces was from a conversation I’d had with someone recently. I’ve been revisiting my past, specifically my childhood, a lot lately in attempts to work on freeing myself of the heavy, emotional baggage I’ve been carrying all those painful memories around in. As we were talking, I blurted out how I’ve always avoided mirrors. I’ve never liked to look at myself. I remember it beginning when I was very young and feeling ashamed for even wanting to look at myself, as though it were a vain and conceited act. From there it grew into just plain not liking what I saw.
I’m not saying that I never look at myself in the mirror. Every morning when I get ready for work, I dry and curl my hair and put on makeup. I’m not a magician. I have to use a mirror to do those things effectively. But it’s more of a perfunctory use…just a way to make sure I color inside the lines, so to speak. When the hair and face are done, they’re done. I don’t fuss with any of it before I head out the door.
I’m also like this when it comes to pictures. Having my picture taken when I was young gave me anxiety like nothing else (still does!). I felt very awkward and unnatural when that lens was pointed at me (still do!). That’s probably a big part of why I love photography…to ensure I’m always the one behind the camera and never the one in front of it.
I found another puzzle piece when I was watching my husband check out the newest filters on Snapchat. He took pictures and video of himself with each filter and sent them out without a thought…right in front of me, knowing I was watching him. They were all hilarious, and sweet and adorable and…hmmm… Why was it so easy for him to do that? Why is it so easy for everyone I know to do that? Why do I feel like a Grade-A Jerk every time I take a selfie and berate myself for a couple days afterward for being “so in love with myself.” And boom…there it was.
I’d been training myself to believe that it was wrong for me to love me. So it’s up to me to train myself to believe that it is so very right for me to love me…in fact, it’s mandatory.
To help me stick with this challenge, simplicity and minimal effort would be necessary. I’m already adding so many new activities to my daily routine that this challenge needed to be easy to fit into my everyday schedule. 15 minutes or less would be perfect, preferably first thing in the morning.
What I landed on was… The Selfie-Love Challenge : Mirror Images. 💜
Every day in February, I will get out of bed 20 minutes earlier each morning. I will go into the bathroom and take one selfie. I will then set a timer for 5 minutes on my phone, and I will stand in front of the mirror, looking at my face until the timer goes off. At the end of the “mirror session” I will take another selfie. To complete the challenge for the day, I will write a brief journal entry about my mirror experience. At the end of the month, I will review the selfies I took to see how my expression evolved during the challenge.
Some of the things I plan to explore during those focused 5 minutes are:
- Looking for traits and similarities to family members. Whose eyes do I have? Where did I see this chin before? Didn’t my aunt have a nose like mine? Seeing the features of my ancestors, especially those I admired and respected for their strength, in my own face will help me remember the powerful person I am. This will also help me reflect on the number of times that two people had to meet at just the right time through my family’s history in order for little ol’ me to even be here.
- Recalling past memories. Not just the crappy, painful stuff…happy, fun stuff too…but, mostly the useless garbage memories in that emotional baggage. Because it’s somewhere in those not-so-special times that this resistance to loving myself was born. It’s a lot harder to run from those ugly moments if I’m looking myself in the eye when I think about them. I don’t look forward to seeing that hurt on my face, but I know it’s necessary in order to let it go, and I’m going into it ready to forgive and love myself. Same goes for the happy memories and high-vibrating visualizations about my future…I can’t wait to see the joy on my face when I think about that sweet stuff!
- Smiling, posing and making faces. Body language is fascinating. It’s like a universal language with no words. I always try to hone in and pick up on the subtler cues in the body language of others to tell me “what’s really going on,” but I don’t bother with it on myself. And with myself, I should be less subtle and more obvious…I should just smile. Studies and research have shown that the simple act of smiling makes you feel happier. When the brain senses your face smiling, it assumes you’re happy. (Sounds just like the law of attraction!) I came across a fascinating Ted Talk by Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy about body language. It was her mention of the “the superhero pose” that jumped out. Standing in this pose for 2 minutes can actually cause hormonal changes in your body making you feel more confident. (Here’s a great clip about the pose.)
The mirror I’m using for the challenge only shows me from the shoulders up. If I used a full-length mirror, I’d spend the whole five minutes staring at my thighs and thinking about everything I’d eaten the night before. However, I am choosing to take my selfies and do my mirror time before I’ve showered or put on makeup. I want to see my true, natural face because that’s the one I want to love seeing.
Maybe one day I’ll take this challenge to that full-length mirror so I can learn to love my body a little more too, but right now I’m content with just working on catching the eye of that blonde lady in the mirror. 😉