If you have been following the stay-at-home order, then you are probably starting to go a little stir crazy by now. If you live by yourself, you may be feeling lonely or sick of seeing yourself. There is a phenomenon where people are experiencing “Zoom exhaustion” from the consistent exposure of their own faces and other people’s faces on camera.
It may feel awkward and a little uncomfortable or like your privacy is hindered — because it is, in a way. We live in a world where that is currently the new normal. Anyone can stare at your screen and It is our human nature to be nervous about what people will think of us or say about us.
It is different than before because when we had in-person meetings, most people would doze off into space or look at whoever is talking rather than be hyperfocused on any convenient screen.
Take a Look at Yourself
Since we are spending so much time at home, maybe you are getting sick of your reflection in the mirror. There has been plenty of research conducted that shows if you feel lonely, insecure, or in despair (which are three common feelings of the current pandemic), then a solution is to look at yourself more, rather than less. One way to accomplish this is by looking in a mirror more often.
This can immediately feel silly or confusing. You may be wondering how this could help these feelings or emotions. It’s a very simple solution that we hear all the time: contrary action. These two words somehow represent an action that can catapult us into thinking and feeling better. If you stay in your comfort bubble, there is no learning and no risk-taking.
You will continue to experience whatever negative feelings you have consistently felt. By taking an introspective look into your reflection, it can help self-esteem. Most of us are immediately uncomfortable with the idea of staring at a mirror for any amount of time. We immediately will pick out flaws and tear ourselves apart. This activity is designed to help combat that innate reaction.
There are self-recognition studies that have been conducted where experimenters place a dot on a child’s forehead. When the child sees it’s the reflection and tries to remove the mark, it’s inferred that they have developed a sense of self because they can recognize themselves in the mirror. They realize that they are not the mirror and they are a separate entity.
Seeing this dot has also commonly produced feelings of shame and embarrassment, similar to having spinach stuck in your teeth. In this way, shame and embarrassment become associated with mirrors. A lot of us will go to great lengths to avoid taking a look at ourselves in mirrors or reflections because we feel self-conscious and often become self-critical.
Self-Reflection Is Key
You can try this experiment at home and in a way it is similar to an exercise of self-healing. You sit in front of a mirror for 10 minutes or more with no specific goal or instruction. Simply just stare at yourself and let whatever thoughts come up to come up. This is similar to meditation, where you are focused on just breath or the moment and let thoughts come and go.
By confronting yourself in this manner, you become more aware of what parts of yourself you don’t want to look at. You become aware of any emotions you may be hiding from yourself. This face to face contact can provide a lot of information about your emotions.
Developmental psychologists say we learn how to display and regulate our emotions through the feedback and reflection we receive during early face-to-face interaction. When engaging in face-to-face contact with ourselves, it will often externalize what is going on inside of us. Maybe we start fidgeting or trying to move our hair. We might shift our bodies so that we look thinner or check our phone because we don’t want to make eye contact. The more discomfort we feel, the more the “self-mirroring feedback loop” will appear.
Once you have tried that, you can switch over to becoming aware of how you are thinking and what you are perceiving while you are doing it. When you step back from “yourself”, it tends to feel less intense. The self-awareness will increase, and it allows you to see how your negative thought patterns aren’t reality at all. The more you do this exercise, the more thoughts will come up — however, over time, they should become more positive and tolerable.
A lot of research has shown that one of the most effective ways to tear apart self-criticism is to change your perspective in this way. Mirrors accelerate the process in both directions. They can either intensify the pain of the “inner critic” or provide a way to treat ourselves more kindly. These studies have found that mirrors can boost the effects of kind self-talk.
Participants who said self-compassionate phrases to themselves in the mirror reported higher levels of soothing, positive emotions compared to participants who said the phrases without the mirror. Our sense of self is said to be linked to our face. Taking a good look at our eyes and face while being kind to ourselves can profoundly change our psychophysiology and reduce our distress about it.
This mirror exercise can help you become more comfortable with yourself and in turn help you feel true acceptance and compassion. To discover other ways to improve your mental health and/or address substance abuse issues, please contact Avalon Malibu today at (844)-857-5992. We tailor solutions to focus on each client’s specific needs. Our highly trained and skilled staff can work with you to find the cause(s) of your low self-esteem and help you move forward with treatment.