The mirror hanging on the wall in the hallway is haunted. It has a voice. It says things every time I walk past it. It says things every time I pause in front of it. It never stops saying things. Sometimes these things are minor, “You know you’re not a lipstick person, are you sure you want to slap on that Ruby Woo today?” Or, “Why so serious? Crack a smile every once in a while.”
Other times it says things of greater significance, “What are you even getting dressed up for today? You should have stayed in bed. There’s nothing out there for you.” Or “Is that the door bell? Probably another rejection letter in the mail concerning that so-called manuscript.” Then there are times it makes reference to situations it should not be concerning itself with in the first place. “But you realize that fitness trainer just published a book right? He’s not even a writer and he’s sweatlessly achieved one of your lifetime goals. Girl, bye!”
Sometimes the voice follows me. It follows me while I drive, whispers in my ear during meetings, follows me to church, screams at me while I type. Sometimes it’s a neutral companion, other times an ally, and when things seem especially difficult it’s an instigator. It nitpicks. Reminds me of what is going wrong, explains why it could really be my fault, and predicts a gloomy forecast for the future. The voice of the haunted mirror is really a piece of work.
Broken Glass – Mind the Splinters
A few months ago I got fed up and decided I would break the mirror. I would smash it into a million pieces and sweep away every last shard. The mirror laughed – “Break a mirror?” it taunted. “That’s 7 years of bad luck. Are you sure you wanna risk that in this economy?” I paused. Then I smashed it.
I am not superstitious and do not believe in old wives’ tales. I went to the store and bought a brand new beautiful mirror, with gilded bronze sides. I dug out and tossed out the nail the old mirror had hung on – for good measure – and hung up my brand new mirror on a brand new nail. It was beautiful, it was delicate, it was just what I needed. No more stupid voice – I was ready and set for positive outcomes only.
The next morning I woke up. As soon as I was dressed I headed over to my new mirror to do my makeup. “Hello stranger!” a voice said. Not a voice – the voice. “Where have you been? You couldn’t have been that busy. You look lovely, albeit a little chubby. What’s up?”
I froze. I backed away. I did my make up in the car that day.
Reflections on my Reflection
As I drove to a morning meeting I realized something. The voice was not in the mirror, it was in my own head. There was no random ghost who haunted mirrors and made partially positive but primarily negative and cheeky statements. These words were my own thoughts that were most easily audible when I was staring at my own face.
As a wordsmith I am obsessed with words, with sentence constructions, with meanings and with interpretations. Yet words had managed to weave a web around my own thinking about self. How? Because the most important words never come from without – they come from within. A lot of the negative words spoken by the ‘haunted mirror’ were worries I had watered and nursed instead of weeded and uprooted. So when the seeds germinated they began to sprout in my inner chatter and thus the negative mirror ghost was born.
Words can be planted by our own self-doubt, watered by failures or slips and falls, and nurtured by lack of self-confidence. Although I do identify as a positive person who has positive words for others, my own boldness, dreams and positivity had been grounded by fears, doubts and worries. That voice in my head that was poking at my weight, nursing fears of failure and encouraging me to backtrack on my bold steps – I empowered that voice. It had nothing to do with a perfectly good mirror. I was more powerful than I realized, and so are you.
Taking Back the Power
We all have a haunted mirror, or more accurately a voice that lives inside our head. For some we identify it as our biggest cheerleader, that voice that assures us at every turn we can do whatever we set our minds to. For others we know it as the villain in every scenario, constantly nagging at us, putting us down and reminding of us of how everything that can go wrong will. And for some of us, it switches between both personas. Regardless of what it says, that seemingly uncontrollable voice can indeed be taught, tamed and trained. I would know – mine has gone from my greatest frenemy to my greatest ally.
The voice exists. We might call it different things, but it is there. We cannot eliminate it or shatter it into a million shards, but we can control what it says. This matters because we cannot afford to let the voice to speak recklessly – our futures are at stake. There is work ahead to achieve purpose so we must use every opportunity to build ourselves up. I changed the message of my internal voice through prayer, through reading the Bible and understanding what the One who created me says about me. I changed the message of my internal voice through arming myself with knowledge about the sectors I am interested in, through surrounding myself with good people who say good and uplifting things, and through DOING things that take me closer to who I want to be in the future rather than just saying and staying in planning mode forever. I changed the message of my internal voice and so can you.
Realizing the power I had over the voice was the first step towards changing the narrative. After all it was not some random ghost sent to torment me. It was created by my own thoughts, by what I was seeing and hearing and what I was receiving and believing. I changed the voice because I changed the voice’s diet. I changed what I was feeding it. I did a detox. I starved it of self criticism, of comparison to others, of negativity towards self. I fed it positivity only. I spoke back vehemently into my new mirror letting it know every time it sought to stir up negativity or self doubt that I am actually unique, intelligent, attractive, accomplished, filled with potential, destined for greatness, full of goodness, full of kindness, strong, strong willed, a go getter, the daughter of the King.
Repeat After Me
If your mirror is ‘haunted’ and it’s talking rubbish remind yourself when you stand before it that:
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are unique. You are intelligent. You are attractive. You can be whoever you set out to be. You can achieve the desires in your heart. You have the ability to bring joy to others. You have the resources to impact someone else’s life now. It is never too early in your success story to be a blessing to others. You have the strength to suppress your weaknesses, the willpower to harness your strengths and the discipline to do the necessary to achieve your goals. These things matter, greatly.
No matter what the mirror says – tell it and tell yourself that:
No one else can do a better job of shaping who you are going to become than you yourself. There is never any reason to summarize who you are by any one moment in time. The life in your body signifies hope in your future, and your actions of today can take you closer to the version of yourself you aspire to be tomorrow. You are capable of learning, capable of growth, capable of improvement. You have talents that can be molded into well-refined skills that will lead you into your dreams. You can be more than you are, you can do more than you are doing, you have what it takes to be one of the greats.
You may not be exactly where you want to be in some aspects of your life, but you can right your wrongs; you may be caught in a moment of weakness but you can ultimately choose to be strong. You are greater than a statement, more dynamic than a negative declaration; you are every good thing you aspire to be.
Walk the Talk
Your job is to talk that voice into talking for you. Feed it with positivity and positive declarations until there is an echo in the room and the voice speaks for you not against you. I wont’ be breaking any other mirrors soon. I like this mirror. I like this voice. After all, the mirror on the wall is merely a reflection of my own self worth and self belief, and the voice actually lives inside of my head. I continue to feed it, to train it, to counter it when it comes at me with discouraging randomness. I would encourage you to do the same.
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”
“Wait, don’t answer that! I’ll tell you. It’s the ONE standing before you.”