I was struck by this question recently. What if there were no mirrors?
I’m guessing that we could still see ourselves in other surfaces like water or shiny metal objects, but the essence of the question was more about not being able to see our reflection at all.
Some practical things popped into my head. It would be pretty hard to comb your hair, shave your face, put on makeup, or fish an eyelash out of your eye, if you couldn’t stare at your reflection.
Then there were some other considerations. You couldn’t check to see if your tie was straight, if your clothes were on just the way you wanted them to be or…well, you get the picture.
And as important as these things might be at times, there was something much deeper in the question.
What do we think when we see ourselves in the mirror?
If you chose to answer that question right now, what would you say? Would it be a physical description that you gave or something more meaningful?
Can you look at yourself in the mirror for any length of time, say two minutes or would that be too uncomfortable?
How much judgement jumps into your thoughts when you see yourself in the mirror? Too old, too young, too tired looking?
Do you hear others voices in your mind when you catch a glimpse of yourself? Voices you would prefer not to hear.
It seems doubtful to me that we are all comfortable staring at our reflections and that it’s reasonable to think we’d see something we’d like to change about our appearance.
So, what if there were no mirrors, would that change this dynamic? Would we be willing to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt and be satisfied with how we ‘think’ we look?
The funny thing is, we can do that now.
We can ignore any of the critical thoughts and judgements we place upon ourselves and those that others pass along to us. It may not be easy to let go of these recurring patterns, but it is possible. Not only that, it’s also very beneficial.
I attended a workshop once where the presenter asked each of us to stare into a mirror, and while looking deeply into our eyes, say “I love you” to our reflection. When asked how we felt about this exercise, each of us reported that we felt very uncomfortable.
That’s an important and eye-opening question to attempt to answer. It’s entirely likely that our answers would vary, but perhaps one reason is because we’ve become so conditioned to accepting our faults and failings, which are often reinforced by others, that we don’t acknowledge our innate goodness.
Sometimes we may think that we have do everything perfectly in order to be loved, by others and by ourselves. It makes me wonder if looking at our reflection in the mirror brings this to mind.
So, let’s pretend for a minute that there are no more mirrors. You’ll have no direct way to see yourself except through your own inner reflection.
To me, that’s an intriguing thought. It shifts focus from outward appearances to inner ones. What do we value about ourselves? What kind or compassionate acts define us? Who do we intend to be in this world? Are we centered in love?
And it gives us an opportunity to decide what sort of reflection we want the world to see.
I’m going to try to remember this the next time I see myself in the mirror.