On Looking in the Mirror

I’ve been reading Brene Brown’s powerful book on shame and shame resiliency, “I Thought It Was Just Me, but it isn’t”.  In the chapter on Practicing Critical Awareness she discusses the expectations women have regarding their physical appearance, and the impact these expectations have on our lives.  As I read the chapter I had an “aha” moment, and it wasn’t a happy one.  I realized that not once, truly not once, have I ever looked in a mirror and liked what I saw.  Even when I was young and thin and without wrinkles and stretch marks I still judged myself with a relentlessly critical eye.  And as I think of this I am deeply saddened by how harsh I have been towards myself, and how much joy I have missed out on while judging myself.

So I thought, “well, I’ll make a vow to let go of these negative thoughts.”  ah, easier said than done.  When I tried to see myself without judgment I felt guilty, as though I was somehow cheating by not focusing on looking the way I think I should.

I think this may be more difficult than I first thought.

So today I am starting a new discipline – to look at myself in the mirror and simply be curious about what I see without judging either good or bad.  What do I see, I wonder what that smile is about, or why my hair is lying a certain way, or what life experience lies behind that wrinkle.  I think it’s going to be an interesting journey – I’ll keep you posted.   Your comments on moving through shame and judgement on issues of appearance would be most welcome.

For more of Brene Brown’s work check out her website


Posted by Laura

Laura Marshall, LCSW, is the founder and director of the Sagebrush Center for Relationship Therapy. Her experience spans thirty years of supporting couples and individuals to create healthy and meaningful lives and relationships. She is also adjunct faculty for the New Mexico Highlands School of Social Work. She lives with her husband Steve and five sons in Farmington, New Mexico.

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