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Mirror Work for Inner Healing

Chapter 9 Mirror Work for Inner Healing

Growing Down - Tools for

Healing the Inner Child

By: James J. Messina, Ph.D. &

Constance M. Messina, Ph.D.

What is mirror work?

Mirror work is a Growing Down activity in which you look at yourself face to face and eye to eye in the mirror (preferably full length) and you tell yourself positive affirmations so that you:

  • Nurture yourself in a way you have never been nurtured before.
  • Nurture your inner child, inner spirit, and inner soul.
  • Get in touch with that part of you which you have neglected or ignored.
  • Grow in self-acceptance, self-confidence, self-worth, and self-love.
  • Begin to believe in the strengths, abilities, and competencies which you possess.
  • Begin to accept your body image and see the beauty, likeability, and worthiness of your physical features.
  • Can identify your true feelings and emotions which you keep pulled in and submerged.
  • Can make a commitment to yourself to work on your personal recovery from low self-esteem and being successful in living life to the fullest.
  • Lessen the sense of chronic depression, hostility, and pessimism you have about yourself and your future
  • Overcome your over-idealization, perfectionistic and self-critical attitudes towards self.
  • Can let go of the self-imposed restrictions in which you have chained your inner child.
  • Can relax, have fun and enjoy living.
  • Parent yourself and your inner child with unconditional acceptance and love like nothing you have ever experienced before from your own parents.
  • Lighten up on yourself and stop your nitpicking, fault-finding and blaming of yourself for all of the losses, failures, and mistakes which you have experienced in your life.
  • Learn how to be positively self-reinforcing, self-rewarding, and generous with praise to yourself.
  • Break the chain of self-destructiveness in your life.
  • Learn the difference between the unhealthy way of being selfish or self-centered and the healthy option of being centered on self.
  • To become a person who is a possibility thinker rather than an impossibility thinker who is a predictor of doom.


What are positive behavior outcomes of mirror work?
If you are conscientious about doing mirror work daily, you will begin to experience in thirty days:
  • Improved body image.
  • Increased self-acceptance.
  • Healthy self-confidence.
  • Improved risk-taking behaviors.
  • A more optimistic view of life.
  • A willingness to become more assertive to protect your rights.
  • Improved self-talk.
  • Increased visibility with the people in your life.
  • Lack of desire to hide behind your old masks.
  • Increased sense of well being.
  • Improved self-image.
  • An ability to enjoy yourself in all aspects of your life.
  • Less disassociation from the feelings you experience in life.
  • A willingness to grow down and allow your inner child to experience the freedom to be a reality in your life.
  • A lightness in your spirit so that you don't feel so heavy.


What feelings are able to be changed by mirror work?

If you do daily mirror work conscientiously, you will begin to experience the following changes in your feelings:

Decreased feelings of:     With a resulting increased
                                               feeling of:
self-hatred                             self-loving
self-loathing                           self-appreciation
worthlessness                       self-worth
undeservedness                   self-deserving
self­­­­-punitive                           self-rewarding
self-pitying                             self-encouragement
self-abandonment                 self-dependence
self-defeated                         self-enhancing
despair                                   hope
heavy-hearted                        lighthearted
discouraged                           encouraged
loneliness                               self-supported
incompleteness                     completeness
unloved                                   loved
valueless                                valuable
unlikable                                 likeable
overwhelmed                         in control of self
shame                                    self-acceptance
self-deprecating                    self-reinforcing
defectiveness                        goodness
helplessness                         competence
impotence                              strength
incapability                             capability
insecurity                                self-assuredness
goal-less                                goal-oriented

pessimism                             optimism

What are some typical self-affirmations you can make in mirror work?

The following sample affirmations are presented according to the type of mirror work involved:

1. Self-acceptance Mirror Work

  • I accept myself just the way I am.
  • I accept that I am human.
  • I accept that I am not perfect.
  • I accept that I am responsible for my own life.
  • I accept that I need to focus my attention on me first so that I can be real and authentic to others.
  • I accept that I have self-defeating behaviors I need to change.


2. Body Image Mirror Work

  • I accept you just the way you are.
  • My body is beautiful.
  • I love me and my body just the way we are.
  • My body is handsome.
  • You look great!
  • You are special to me.


3. Post Weight Loss Mirror Work

  • You are thin.
  • You are healthy.
  • I am so proud of you.
  • My body is the right size for me.
  • I am at the right weight for me.
  • I will exercise each day to retain my health.
  • I will eat enough only to survive.


4. Mirror Work to Heal Feelings of Shame

  • You are a wonderful person.
  • I love being me.
  • There isn't anything that can keep me down.
  • I deserve good things in life.
  • I am a beautiful person.
  • I accept you for who you are.
  • Nothing can hold you back.
  • You did the best you could knowing what you did at the time.


5. Self-Forgiveness Mirror Work

  • I forgive you for being human.
  • I forgive you for ignoring me for so long.
  • You are worthy of being forgiven.
  • You are a loving, caring person.
  • You and I are going to be best friends.
  • You deserve to be forgiven.
  • You are not perfect and failures or mistakes are inevitable.
  • There is no need for you to be so hard on yourself.


6. Self-Encouragement Mirror Work

  • You've come a long way, baby!
  • You are special to me!
  • Nice going. I knew you could do it!
  • I'm so proud of you!
  • Keep up all your good efforts.  They are showing!
  • You can do it.  I know it!
  • Without you I could never do it!
  • Together we make quite a team, a real dynamic duo.
  • You are my best friend.
  • I really can rely on you.  Thanks!


7. Increasing Visibility Mirror Work

  • I deserve to be seen and heard.
  • You are special and you will let others see this specialness.
  • You are a competent, capable person who deserves to be seen and to have your rights respected.
  • There is no need to hide anymore.


8. Inner Child Awareness Mirror Work

  • You are my special friend.
  • I promise to no longer ignore you.
  • You are special to me.
  • I love you.
  • I enjoy your company.
  • I deserve to grow down.
  • I deserve to play and to have fun.
  • I will nurture you like you've never been nurtured before.
  • I will rely on you from now on.
  • I will listen and react more to your needs in the future.


9. Self-Confidence Building Mirror Work

  • I am -
  • I can -
  • I will -

Fill in the blanks with what you need more self-confidence about in your life.

What are the steps to use mirror work in your program of recovery?


Step 1: In your journal first identify the specific areas of growing down and self-change for which mirror work would be beneficial for you.  Any or all of the following needs might fit for you:

  1. Self-acceptance
  2. Improved body image
  3. Maintenance of ideal body weight
  4. Healing of sense of shame
  5. Self-forgiveness
  6. Self-encouragement
  7. Increased visibility
  8. Increased awareness of your Inner Child
  9. Building of self-confidence
  10. Other (specify)


Step 2: In your journal identify the negative feelings you have which you would like to change.


Step 3: In your journal identify the negative self-scripts you have about yourself which lead to the negative feelings identified in Step 2.


Step 4: In your journal identify new healthier self-scripts or self-affirmations which you can use for each type of mirror work you identified in Step 1 as necessary.


Step 5: Put the affirmations for each purpose on a separate index card and put the cards on the walls around the full length mirror you will use for your mirror work. The easiest cue cards to make are three separate cards with:  [1] I am:  [2] I can: and [3]  I will:  on them.


Step 6: Now you are ready to do your mirror work.  For the next thirty days tell yourself in the mirror all of the self-affirmations you identified in Step 4.  Spend at least five to ten minutes twice a day doing this activity.  If you have not experienced growth in all of the areas targeted, then return to Step 1 and begin all over again.  If you experience growth, healing, and change, then continue to do one to three minutes of mirror work daily for the rest of your life as a prevention tool as well as a way to continue to grow down.