I used to hate the woman in the mirror.
Her hair is frizzy and always out of place. Her skin is dry and pock-marked from nearly four decades of a bad picking habit. Her bony, long face and pointed nose stare back at me, daring me to think something positive about myself.
Some days I catch the light reflecting off the mirror into my eyes, and for a moment I think, “Oh, those eyes are stunning.”
And then I hear her. She’s laughing at me. An evil laugh. So evil, I feel shame rising. I cast my eyes from the mirror. My reflection fades into the background, becoming just another fixture in the bathroom as I go about my morning routine. I am careful not to make eye contact with the woman in the mirror again.
Day in and day out, this was how I greeted myself when I walked into the bathroom. If I could muster up the courage to think something positive about myself, that thought was chased out by the sneering woman in the mirror. Most mornings, although I would skillfully avoid making eye contact, the harsh words still flew at me like knives.
When I started Mel Robbins’ “High-Five Challenge,” it was no surprise that I couldn’t make eye contact with the woman in the mirror. Instead, I’d quickly tap the mirror with my hand while starting my morning routine. Some days I’d nervously giggle, like I do during a difficult confrontation. But I’d never make eye contact with that woman in the mirror.
But on Day #5 of the challenge, I found myself staring back at this woman as I gave her a high-five. Instead of quickly averting my eyes, I paused. There was no voice tearing me down. Instead, there was silence.
I took a deep breath.
“Hi,” I whispered to the woman in the mirror.
She smiled back at me.
But no beat down. No thoughts nitpicking my appearance.
So I stared into her eyes a little longer. I searched her face for something – an answer? Comfort? – while waiting for that nasty voice to chime in. But there was still only silence.
I quietly nodded my head at the woman in the mirror before starting my day.
The next morning, as I walked to the bathroom, I thought about who would greet me when I stepped into the bathroom. Would it be the woman I met yesterday? Or was that other woman back? I was nervous to find out, and so when I first stepped into the bathroom, I avoided the mirror. I moved through my morning routine, careful not to catch her eye. But just before I left the bathroom, I heard a small voice calling me to the mirror.
“Give yourself a high-five,” it said.
So I turned back to the mirror, met her gaze and, like seeing an old friend, my shoulders relaxed and I released the breath I didn’t realize I was holding.
“I am OK. I am safe. I am loved,” I said to the woman in the mirror.
And as though she had been waiting a lifetime to hear those words, she released decades of angst, pressure, and self-loathing in the form of tears.
I cried a good cry that morning, and when the tears stopped falling, I made eye contact with the woman in the mirror once more, and she smiled a loving, patient smile, and said, “I got you. We are in this together.”
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