For most of us, looking in the mirror is a necessity that we rush through without thinking much about it. Millions of people use mirrors when they are getting themselves ready in the morning, or to occasionally ensure they still look presentable. Nevertheless, we generally believe that spending time gazing at our reflections is a sign of narcissism, like we ‘love ourselves’.
The reality is that looking in a mirror can be a helpful tool that makes it easier to balance emotions and get in touch with your true feelings. Paying attention to your facial expressions and the emotion that is shown on your face also makes it easier to identify authentic feelings and figure out their source.
Reflections Help Humans Develop a Sense of Self
By the time you are an adult, you have probably been taught that spending too much time looking at yourself in a mirror is just purely for ‘getting yourself ready’. As a result, millions of people invest in beautiful, unique bathroom mirrors that are great for applying makeup or getting changed infront of, but spend almost no time using them to see themselves properly.
In reality, our reflections are very important. Psychologists tell us that babies as young as 20 months can recognise themselves as individuals when they look in mirrors. Before that, they think they are seeing other babies or something scary. Throughout our lives, this ability to self-recognise through our reflections is a crucial ability that plays a part in our relationships and overall happiness.
Looking In a Mirror Enhances Social Interactions
There have been studies that document what happens when people go long periods without seeing themselves in the mirror. Research shows that most initially enjoy a break from constant self-criticism. However, they eventually begin to avoid social interactions and start to become socially awkward. There are reasons for that.
Looking in the mirror is a form of communication, and it is essential. When humans gaze at their reflections, they are engaging in a kind of face-to-face interaction that provides feedback, the same way face-to-face dealings with other people can do. According to Psychology Today, mirrors can help you sync up with other people and regulate your emotions.
Face-to-face contact with yourself allows you to recognize your own emotions, but people with social anxiety cannot recognize their feelings. With that in mind, psychologists have conducted studies that use video and mirrors to teach people “self-mirroring.” They learn to recognize their emotions and soothe themselves when they are anxious.
Your Reflection Grounds You to Your Body
Looking in the mirror plays a part in how you experience your body. We understand our physical selves through a combination of vision and proprioception, which is our perception of spatial orientation and movement. Looking in the mirror reassures your brain that all is well. The mind wants consistency between vision and proprioception. That is why if you arrange mirrors so your right hand appears to be your left, you will feel confused.
Reflections Help Us Shift Perspectives
Mirrors can help us see ourselves accurately. Most people zero in on their faults when they look in the mirror and are mildly critical of themselves. However, approximately 1% of the population suffers from Body Dysphoric Disorder (BDD). They are obsessed with certain parts of their body to the point they feel constant stress that interferes with daily living. Therapists have successfully used mirror therapy, along with cognitive behavioral therapy, to treat the condition. When patients look in the mirror for long periods and describe what they see, therapists can use the mirror as a tool to challenge sufferers’ distorted images.
It is human to critique our images in the mirror, but it is not inevitable. Studies show that being kind to yourself while looking in the mirror can reduce self-criticism and anxiety.
Examining Our Reflections Can Be a Form of Self Care
Most people spend a lot of their lives worrying about what other people think about them but put very little thought into their personal feelings or emotional needs. They glance into mirrors to ensure themselves they meet other peoples’ expectations.
It is a habit that makes it easy to lose yourself, forget what you want, and begin to underappreciated your achievements. However, spending a few minutes every day looking in the mirror, really looking at your features, and smiling at yourself can reap big dividends. Take this time to remember happy times, thank yourself for all you do, and even tell yourself, “I love you.”
It can be hard to do this at first because most of us are not used to self-love or spending time alone thinking about ourselves. But it’s essential to detach from other people’s opinions and recenter yourself. You will feel better if you do.
Mirror Meditations Offer Valuable Insights
Per experts at Mindful Magazine, looking in the mirror can provide valuable insights and encourage emotional balance. Practicing a regular mirror meditation is a wonderful way to identify the ways events and people around you impact your face. Merely gazing at your reflection with a purpose provides a host of information about yourself. The process is simple but powerful.
You can consult an online source for complete details, but the basic practice consists of a few simple steps:
- Create a quiet space that includes a free-standing mirror and comfortable seating and then set a timer for 10 minutes.
- Close your eyes and breathe deeply while noticing any area of tension in your body. Imagine sending breath to relax those areas.
- Open your eyes, gaze into the mirror, breathe steadily, and soften your gaze if it is harsh.
- Notice what you are criticizing about yourself and try to shift your focus from the face with flaws to the person underneath—the real you. Imagine how the real you feels about being criticized.
- Be open to feelings that come up as you gaze in the mirror. Just be, with no goal. If your attention becomes narrow, bring it back to just being, without judgment. Maintain a kind intention toward yourself.
Many of us decorate our homes with lovely mirrors but rarely look at ourselves in them because we think it is a sign of narcissism. However, viewing your reflection is an integral part of staying grounded and seeing yourself accurately. Mirrors can be used as part of therapies designed to correct a poor self-image. Practicing mirror meditation 10 minutes a day can help you remain emotionally centered and maintain a positive self-image.