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  • Writer's pictureSara Marsden-Shreeve

Mirror, Mirror!

Mirror happy | The Image Tree
A Smile is the Best Accessory You Can Wear

Warning: Contains words of an assertive and soft sweary nature!

I think it’s fair to say that ‘us women’ can more often than not, be a little too self-critical. We enjoy ourselves, eat things we shouldn’t, drink things we shouldn’t, sometimes in copious amounts. Then we get our ugly stick out and start bashing ourselves with it when we feel the guilt and look in the mirror and see the after effects. We punish ourselves for having happy times and frickin fun.

I know I know, everything in moderation and I’m not condoning a continuous hedonistic lifestyle by any stretch, but we are human after all and stuff happens from time to time. Truth!

One January morning, after the excitement of Christmas, I found myself doing the 'ugly stick' thing, clutching my face in a ‘Scream-esque’ manner and running an internal dialogue with myself in the mirror.

I was basically scrutinising every line, dark circle and crunchy patch of skin on my face and saying things like “jeez, is that me”? “Christ almighty you’ve let yourself go a bit luv”! “You look like a bag of walnuts”! Needless to say I then decided to allow the voice to taunt me further by working a thorough investigation downwards from face to thighs. Woah! What the…?

Now, honestly, I’m much more of a lover than a hater of ‘me’ these days, so for this to start rearing its ugly head from long ago was a rude awakening! I’d let that negative voice sneak in through the back door unnoticed and start bitching!!

It went on for days too, a little mutter here and a ‘tut’ there when I appeared on all manner of reflective surfaces from teaspoons to shop windows. That was until I decided to take charge again and shut her up! Reality check sweetheart! I’ll tell you how I did that in a moment.

So after regaining my composure of this personal period of ‘blurgh’, I returned to work, ready to continue and share the style love, plus I’d got a personal shopping trip booked in with a fabulous client.

It was here, whilst loitering outside the changing room doors, that I noticed that other women were clearly showing similar symptoms of this ‘post happy virus’, I could see it in their faces. Emerging from the doors of gloom with that look!

You know that look…..the hopelessness of not looking fantastic in that dress you’ve just plucked off the rail. The ‘omg’ moment when the trousers don’t fit, the dress doesn’t zip up. Then the mirror shows EVERY LITTLE GOD DAMN spot, crease, fold, lump bump and then some.

Now I know you’re thinking, “well she must see that all the time” and it’s true, I do! I work with women all the time to build their self-confidence, it’s what I live for, but this time, I felt compelled to shout out and share the pearls of advice and words of confidence I’d tried and used, right then and there. If I could be in every changing room with a cuppa and a comforting hug, around the world, I would be. God knows those cubicles of hell need something! (But that’s for another gripe to be blogged!)

So having my glitch in the confidence stakes and being reminded that its commonplace, I wanted to share with you what I did, so that maybe you get a few tips to help you tie that inner bitch up in your head, or ,ahem, at least quieten her down a bit! Sorry I get a bit carried away. A bit of mirror work if you like, courtesy of the great (Louise Hay) along with a bit of NLP expressed in my usual light hearted way.

So before I explain, it’s really important to remember the following….

1. Please from the words of the wise, “If you wouldn’t say it to your friend don’t say it to yourself”, Jane Travis.

2. What you say negatively to yourself is not a fact it is a belief you have learned, acquired from someone or something you’ve seen, heard or felt and is not yours to punish yourself with. Take a good long look at yourself and create more positive thoughts based on facts about yourself you know to be true and like about yourself. Start small. Tiny tweaks and all that…. For example, I am a smart, confident woman who can… (Walk like a boss, baby).

3. Know that YOU are loved, you are beautiful and you deserve to treat yourself with respect.

4. Your body physically carries your very essence and life force every day, along with all the crap life throws at you, whether it be stress, illness or heartbreak and yet you are still breathing, loving and giving – er, that my friend is remarkable resilience right there. Start loving the shit out of yourself and realise that you are stronger, more grateful, more beautiful,kinder and so on, than you already think you are.

5. What you physically see in the mirror does not solely dictate ALL you have to give…re read the above!

Okay, that’s a lot of heart stuff to chew on, but I find if you resonate with at least one of them or find one of them harder to work with, find yourself a positive meme that relates to it or write that very sentence down. Its likely to be one that contains your blocks. or you believe you don't deserve. Print it out, write it on a stick it note and slap it to your mirror, you can scratch it in your desk or tattoo it onto your eyelids, whatever it takes. This is mine...

Positive meme

Now look at it and say it to yourself as often as possible. We know that it’s a fact that anything said or done consistently has a higher chance of getting into your noggin. It sticks like shit to a blanket, so go create your own positive affirmation and believe it. What is will be as it gets easier .

I know it’s hard to successfully feel like a goddess every day, we are after all busy people, so if you feel you need a bit of a kick from time to time, you can try what I did, to reduce the volume of that voice. A little action prised into a daily routine.

Before reading this, please do bear in mind that I’m a bit kooky and find humour, personally, helps me to feel grounded as well as lifting my spirits, so if you find some of this a bit whacky just adapt it in a way that fits you better...


· On seeing your face or body, do not search for areas of displeasure, instead focus on the good bits. We all have them… your just not used to looking for them! Then find one and give it some credit and say something positive.

For example, Ooh what strong shapely thighs I have…all the better to crush someone’s head with! Or ‘What a great head of hair I have, I should ring L’Oréal right now and offer my services, I am so worth it”

Bear with…

· If the negative voice starts, shouts louder or jostles rudely in, you need to quieten it down and take away its hold. You can throw your hat at any of the following depending on how you best process or learn things.

Visually – see the voice as an imaginary form or character speaking in your head that’s daft and/or something you would not respect the opinion of. This one worked for me, I found a dancing hotdog did the trick, kooky alert! But you see, he knows “sweet f.a.” about anything because well er... he’s a hotdog and full of crap (literally). I learned to quickly ignore the gests about wrinkly skin and cellulite! Period!

Auditory – Say a positive response to it out loud or to yourself with gusto and assertiveness. The likes of, “shut up and sit down because I AM…”, for example. Talking to yourself, I’m told, is a sign of high intelligence. I’ll take that! Just saying "I'm learning to love you (your name)" is a start. For me, I found singing "Let it go" from Disney's Frozen was a godsend.

Kinaesthetic – Physically doing a gesture to respond to your negative voice can be silent but effective. An assertive point at your reflection, a death stare, a shake of your head or simply do a ‘No’ dance. Movement enforces those strong feelings you have.

You can do all of the above if you like, but choose your ‘face off’ time carefully, your family queuing outside the loo door or sharing in the office loo full of co-workers, is not a great time to do your ‘haka’.


· As a small part of your usual bathroom routine at home, you can then continue to shower, coif your hair, apply some make up, apply appealing smelly stuff and wear something that makes you feel HAPPY and CONFIDENT. Colour can be your bestie here too, if you add but a scarf or necklace.

· You can then slink back to the mirror and give it the JOEY EFFECT aka “how you doin”? (A “Friends” sitcom reference for those in the know) Kiss the mirror, a cheeky wink, a hug, stand like wonder woman or just give an approving nod. The thought alone should raise a simple smile and this goes a long way in itself.

· It has been scientifically proven that a smile physically stimulates your reward centre, boosts you mood and surpasses chocolate in the happiness stakes (hmm?). So just smile if you feel like a pratt doing the other stuff.

Just taking one small thing and doing it daily will help you feel better I promise. Life is short and full of wondrous things so don’t spoil it with a heavy heart and a bad mood with a flippin mirror. Choose to be optimistic because it feels better and you know it.

How you choose to see yourself is up to you and takes time, but in the words of dear ole Tesco….Every little helps… luv! (That bit’s geographically based). A mirror can become your buddy not your enemy.

Okey dokey, I’m going to stop there, because I endeavour to write more about this and claw every drop of self-positivity I can, back into life.

So until next time my lovelies, I bid you, adieu!

If you would like to further your body positive journey and find out more tasty tips, then check out my NEW E-COURSE. You can enjoy Step One for FREE too when you join The Image Tree Family.

Click the image below for full course details.

Sara x


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