Fat Girl Wearing Thin

Life beyond the loss.

   Jan 10

Group Therapy Thursday: Mirror Exercise Discussion


hatelossbadgeHappy Thursday everyone, and welcome to our first day of group therapy for the Hate-Loss Challenge.  Last week we all downloaded a copy of Karen Anderson’s Mirror Exercise.  Today, we’ll share our thoughts about it.  Also, I’d love to know how your Gratitude Jar challenge is coming along; can you believe we’re 9 days into it already? 


If I’d read through this exercise a couple of years ago I would have thought it too simple a task to really change any perception I had about myself.  Clearly, I knew nothing about mirror work. Having done quite a bit of self esteem exercises since then, I knew this was definitely going to be a challenge. We’re all so used to seeing our reflections, it’s easy to get disconnected from what’s staring back in the mirror unless we work on it regularly (which personally I haven’t since before my surgery last June). 

I have to say, I think it’s interesting that a couple of you opened your eyes and found your mother’s image in the mirror; fascinating.  Although this didn’t happen to me, I did have trouble carrying out the exercise the first several times I tried it.  Holding onto it and projecting that emotion while gazing at myself was the most difficult part. I was able to gather that warm, safe, powerful feeling deep inside, but when I opened my eyes I’d lose it immediately.   Last year at this time I was practicing mirror work every day and getting pretty comfortable doing it, actually.  In fact, I continued to do it long after the challenge was over but after surgery, I never really picked it back up.   It’s obvious to me how much one can regress in a few short months.  I’m now learning to accept this ‘new’ body which has been very challenging at times.  I am getting better at it, however as with any exercise – be it training for a half marathon or doing self-esteem work, it all takes practice and diligence in order to see progress.

Other than the exercise itself (to give you a chance to see where you are on the self-acceptance ladder in your life), I felt that it was equally important to understand what physically happens to our bodies when we neglect our mental health.  Physiologically, we react negatively to stress – specifically stress that we bring onto ourselves when we direct negative and harmful words inward.  We all have the ability to rid ourselves of this kind of self inflicted abuse.  We are all worthy of praise and love and acceptance, aren’t we?  It is well within our control to change the way we feel about ourselves.  I hope you’ll consider using this exercise or other kind of mirror work after today.  It really can make a difference.  

How did you do? 

Did you run into any obstacles when trying to complete this exercise?  If so, were you able to work around the obstacle in order to finish it?  What are your thoughts on the scientific explanation of why it’s so important to have a healthy attitude? 

Remember, Karen is giving away a copy of her book to a lucky participant and in order to enter you must comment in THIS post about your experience in doing the Mirror Exercise.  If you have a blog and write a post about today’s exercise, please link your post in the comments section below so that other group members can read and share their thoughts with you.  If you don’t own a blog, please use my comments section for this week’s update and you’ll be automatically entered for Karen’s book giveaway.  A winner will be announced at random on Monday, January 14th.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting our next exercise for discussion on Thursday, January 17th.  Thanks for participating everyone, and have a good session!



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  1. Brenda says:

    this was a little eye opening for me. And I did see my dad when I first opened my eyes. While still staring and looking past him, I realized I also saw his compassion in my own eyes. I saw a very tired woman. I saw where I held my stress of the last year of life (possibly the last 17 years of life)..but I liked the person I started to see. I found a curiosity of wanting to get to know that person better.
    I wrote a post on my blog about it. It is a private blog but anyone participating here is welcome to join me there..just send me an email (bdeer2@yahoo.com)

  2. Brandi says:

    Hey hey! Sorry I am so late posting…. Work has been very trying this week. :)
    I really did find it surprisingly freeing…at first, it was very difficult to look at myself with those type of eyes. I still wanted to resort to looking at myself with judgemental eyes. Overall, it was a beautiful experience and it really did open up something in my thought process.
    I wrote about it here: http://faithfitnessandlaughter.com/2013/01/05/just-to-be-heard/

    Thank you so much for sharing this exercise!!

  3. Beth says:

    Well…the first time I did it I saw my mom. And she looked old and tired…ha ha. The second time I did it, I thought my face looked a little softer, and kinder. By the third time I did it, I saw a younger version of Me. It was very strange! I’m not exactly sure what I’m supposed to get out of this exercise, but I’m going to keep doing it! The first time I did it I felt silly, but the more I do it the more peaceful I feel, and I like the feeling i get from it.

    • Ellen says:

      Great job, Beth! I think Karen put it best when she wrote, ‘no matter what you THINK, what you FEEL always wins.’ In your case it could mean that no matter what you thought you saw in the mirror, the more you had that positivity running through you which allowed you to see something MORE than that (ultimately a younger version of you) you can then own that feeling and make it work for you. In other words, you don’t have to see your mother. You can see you for the youthful presence you always possess within you. It’s something I always see whenever I look at you.

  4. […] « Group Therapy Thursday: Mirror Exercise Discussion […]

  5. Thanks to all of you who tried it and shared your experiences (have read some, but not all…will do so as soon as I finish this comment). The meaning of “acceptance” is something that evolves…and it certainly has evolved for me. For me, now, acceptance is a matter of acknowledging reality, rather than living in a state of denial or “shoulds.” I know that acceptance is often confused with love and/or approval (and when I first started out on the acceptance journey, that’s how I viewed it…and I believe that’s how I needed to view it at the time).

    • Ellen says:

      This is precisely my thoughts on acceptance. There are many people who think it means ‘resignation’ and that isn’t how I view it at all. I think the exercise was a very good one to try; hard, yes – but again, part of the process if we want to retrain our way of thinking. Thank you for offering it to us for this challenge, Karen.

  6. Hanlie says:

    I’m very late checking in! It was quite a week at work, but I did the exercise and experienced a tremendous breakthrough! I will definitely blog about it tomorrow.

    • Ellen says:

      Hanlie, would you consider sharing your password protected post so that I might read it? I’d love to learn about your breakthrough regarding this exercise if you’re comfortable with that.

  7. didi says:

    I apologize for the late check in. There’s been a lot of movement around here lately!
    Here is a link to my post about the gratitude jar. Not only am I filling out several slips of paper a day, but any time I catch myself participating in negative thinking or complaining, I start doing “gratitude jar” in my head. Wow! It’s making a big difference, and I am not going to stop this exercise ever. Thinking of all the things I am grateful for anytime I start to slip is causing great inner changes.


    The mirror exercise hasn’t hit me in a profound way yet. I feel like I am more resistant to it than to the gratitude jar. I turn around and see myself and think that I look tired, and that I look too much like my mother, who looks even more tired than I do. If I stick to it there will be positive changes- it may just take me a bit longer. When I look I am still focusing in on the fact that I need to drop some pounds.

    • Ellen says:

      …and Didi, there is nothing wrong with that. I think everyone sees something different in the beginning – and it certainly isn’t something that works overnight. For some, it may take a very long time to achieve. It’s hard work!! You certainly aren’t the only one to see a loved one, either. I think that by looking past the visual and concentrating more on the loving feeling this exercise sparks, you’ll be on your way. Off to read your post…

  8. teresa says:

    I’ve had such a hard time blogging… but I did work on this mirror exercise. …tried anyway. It was so much harder than I thought it would be. Even having an ace in the hole feel good thought (my daughter), I had trouble letting that *feeling* surround and fill me. I “talked” too much in my head and tried to get there. I know it’s partly because life has just been so busy that I haven’t had the kind of quiet time I need for this. At any rate, when I really tried the first time, I did have a kind of interesting experience. As I said, I was talking my feelings in my head… “my girl, I love you…” that kind of thing. And finally I just had to turn around to the mirror and just at that moment the words in my head that I didn’t really plan on thinking were, “When I look at you I only see beauty.” Naturally I scared myself and looked away before I might feel something, but I think for a moment there it was nice.
    Then I was in the kitchen making breakfast for my little family and it was a beautiful morning and I was so happy and feeling really blissful… It occured to me that I was filled up with that Mirror Exercise feeling, so I ran to a mirror before I started “talking” again. Big breath, feel the bliss, turn and look… Huh, not bad.
    So, that’s how my week went.

    • Ellen says:

      Absolutely beautiful. What a way to end the week. I’m so grateful that you experienced something positive from it. Becoming enveloped in that ‘feeling’ when you least expect it says to me that you had it close to your heart subconsciously. When the right moment struck – there it was!

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