Self-Judgment: Breaking Free from the Mirror’s Harsh Critic

How frequently do you gaze in the mirror and like what you see? Not often? You’re not alone.

We often struggle to look in the mirror and not criticise and judge ourselves. We have a critical inner voice that tells us we’re not good enough, not thin enough, not attractive enough – a voice that can have profoundly detrimental effects on our self and body esteem.

The Mirror: A Harsh Critic
We use the mirror as an instrument of self-critique rather than a simple reflective surface. We don’t glance in the mirror, we focus with eagle eyes on all the parts of our body we don’t like – our wrinkles, our tummy, our thighs and reinforce negative perceptions of our own bodies. This can trigger a cascade of negative thoughts and emotions.

We end up in a cycle of self doubt and hate for our body. What we see can stop us from going out with our friends, from playing with our kids on the beach, or from enjoying life. We either avoid mirrors as a way of coping, as we try to shield ourselves from our own judgemental inner critic, or we can’t stay away from them, continually analysing and judging ourselves harshly.

This is harmful behaviour. Not only does it act as a corrosive force, silently eroding our self-confidence and body esteem, it also affects how we eat.

We look in the mirror, we don’t like what we see, so we restrict what we are eating, trying to change our physical appearance.
We look in the mirror, we don’t like what we see, so we go on a binge because what’s the point of trying.

In both instances, we are exacerbating emotional and negative eating patterns and are left with shame about how we look. Breaking free from the mirror’s harsh judgement isn’t just about appearances; it’s about nurturing our mental and emotional health.

Three Steps to Overcoming Mirror-Induced Self-Judgment

Recognise your strengths:
Use 3 words to describe the strengths of your best friend or someone in your family that you love – are they kind, good fun or a good listener? They sound like lovely people, people that I would want to get to know. But I don’t know what they look like and that doesn’t matter. People want to be with you because of your strengths, not because of how you look.

Practice Self-Compassion:
Instead of succumbing to self-criticism, make a conscious effort to practise self-compassion. Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a dear friend. When negative thoughts arise, counter them with self-affirming statements like, “I am more than my appearance,” or “I am worthy of love and respect just as I am.”

Challenge Negative Self-Talk:
Notice how often you say unkind things to yourself about your body. Identify one small step that you can take towards appreciating your body for what it does, rather than for what it looks like.

Improving our body esteem is not about telling ourselves how beautiful we are. It’s about accepting our body for all its faults, and appreciating what it does for us and recognising our worth, regardless of what we see in the mirror.

So, the next time you find yourself standing before your reflection, remember that you have the power to change the narrative. Choose self-compassion over self-criticism, and challenge negative self-talk.

Self judgement is part of the Heal building block to help you reclaim control over your relationship with food and your body and find lasting peace and freedom. If you would like to know more, sign up to my Insider’s Circle email here

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