I don’t spend a lot of time in front of the mirror when I do look at myself it is usually with a very critical eye. This new wrinkle, that new gray hair, this bit of extra weight. I read an article about treating the image in the mirror like someone you love instead of something to critique, it has made a significant difference in my outlook and my inner talk.
Cancer wreaks havoc on all aspects of your being, there is no other way to say it. My identity took a major hit, still is taking a major hit as a result of dealing with cancer. I stopped looking in the mirror when I had the mastectomy. Of course the mirror in my bathroom is 12 feet long and four feet high, making it a bit of a trick not to look.
I became pretty skilled at not looking for about seven months.
I bloated big time and lost my hair with chemo. Every now and then I would look at the sores in my mouth and manage not to see the whole me. It was painful, not just from the sores, but to see this person looking back at me not resemble the person I was used to seeing even if I was overly critical towards her.
I was worried about what this attitude and these actions were teaching my daughters and set out to revise accordingly. Project status.
Identity, what does that mean exactly? Oddly, when asked to list positives about myself, I never include anything about my appearance, this gave me pause. If my appearance didn’t define my identity, why was looking at myself in the mirror such a painful experience?
One day I caught a glimpse of myself and forced myself to look, really look. I was amazed at how much I looked like my mom. My mom is one of my favorite people to ever exist and I loved her very much. The parts that don’t look just like my mom, look a lot like my dad, another favorite of mine. How can I be so critical when I look like two of my favorite people?
I read an article the suggested instead of being critical you should treat yourself how you would treat someone you love in this situation. My first thought was I’d give my mom a moisturizing facial and moisturize her neck, I remember how much she hated having dry skin. I did both things for myself and felt better. It really felt like I was doing something for her.
My mom always told me to look for the beauty in things, not the classic physical beauty but the underlying beauty. In this case I believe she would tell me to acknowledge that my body was strong enough to handle chemo and start the healing process, a very beautiful thing. This made me start to become way more grateful and infinitely less critical looking at myself in the mirror. I still have room for improvement but I am getting there.
Now when I start to pick and fuss at the lady in the mirror I take a step back, do the Wonder Woman pose and tell myself how grateful and wonderful I am for what I have come through, what a beautiful thing.