Mirrors, Their Conceptual and Physical Value

Updated: Nov 12, 2020

Katie McDowell graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a B.S. in Biopsychology and a focus on child development. She is currently working as a technician with NeuroField Neurotherapy alongside her classes at SBCC. Katie is pursuing nursing to further advance her ability to help integrate western and eastern healing practices and ease the intricacies of early childhood development and pediatric medicine.


I spent a lot of time this past weekend with Tracy talking about the significance of mirrors in one's life. There are conceptual mirrors and physical mirrors. All mirrors just reflect back a version of us. At many points in our lives, we meet people that serve as mirrors of who we are, of what stage of life we are at, and of what personality traits are and are not serving us. These are conceptual mirrors. They can be people who parrot what we say back to us or even provide us with space and time to reflect upon who we are, our identity, our self-concept. These people, who serve are reflections of ourselves are different than mentors or someone "a few steps ahead;" those people act as windows to where we can go and who we can be. It is easy to look through a window and imagine what the future holds, but gazing into a mirror does not always leave us with the same hopeful sense. Personal mirrors, in the form of people we spend time with, do not always reflect back what we want to see and this can be difficult to accept. But, none the less, mirrors are important because they do reflect back to us what we can not always see on our own. This is why the quality of a mirror is important. The best mirrors are real and honest mirrors; they are supportive and compassionate mirrors. These provide the seeds for positive self-reflection and growth based on awareness accompanied by acceptance, not judgment.

On the physical level, in a home, and other surrounding environments we can benefit the most from mirrors that are honest and real with us, but also compassionate. A physical mirror that is honest is one that shows when we have acquired love handles or reflects a frowning face straight back. A physical mirror that is compassionate reflects lighting in a way that encourages us to smile at our own reflection--even when the wrinkles or spots, that media has taught us to see as "bad," taunt us to surrender to self-hatred and judgment. A mirror that is real is one that says what's up and hides nothing. Many of us may not even know that we have been living with or grew up with a mirror that has affected out self-image. It important to avoid mirrors with hidden bends which reflect back warped images and tease the mind into believing one's body is warped or larger than it is in reality. The location of our mirror can reflect darkness outside, amplify the mess within a room or create an illusion that a room is larger. We must be aware as to which illusions are serving us or fueling the negative banter our reflected image may engage us with. I have been seeing a sickly image in the mirror and playing into the "reality" that the green tint of my skin reflected the status of my health, but my mirror was merely reflecting the light playing upon the green walls of my home. The mirror itself was trying to be honest, but the location and lighting on the light had the power to influence my perception of myself.

We often look for mirrors to reflect back to us what we want to see. Sometimes these are positive realities and sometimes they are nasty stories we have convinced ourselves to believe in. Intentionality and awareness with all our interactions can change our present experience in the world. Sometimes we need to change our perspective, but if that is not working, it might be time to get a better mirror.

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