©2018 by Erin Welsh

  • Erin Welsh

Mental Mirrors

This post stems from a Facebook memory that popped up on my feed a couple days ago, but I feel strongly each time I see it. It was the first in a small series of steps to get outside my comfort zone and begin healing the trauma of self-destructive thoughts, behaviors, and influences when it came to my physical self.

Two years ago this summer, I moved back to Michigan after three insane, energetic, hot-as-hell years in Austin. I had taken yet another pay cut, was living with my parents (sup roomies?!), and the closest friends were a two hour drive. One thing I was determined to do was to make sure I stayed on top of my physical health, so I set up a little gym in the workshop connected to my parents' garage. I woke up every day and went out to the workshop, jamming out to my Spotify playlists and following BodyBoss workouts. And every day, I'd examine my thighs-- were they shapelier? My arms- more toned? My neck - did it have double chins when I grimaced? (anyone? Anyone?). And I was never satisfied.


Not once.

I'd gotten accustomed to writing the exercises and rep counts on the little mirror so I could remember what I was doing. I don't know what compelled me to do it, but one day, as I stood examining my body, I started writing judgments on the mirror. Below are my thoughts that day:

You know what's fucked up about this photo? Everything. I was healthy, and strong, and I still hesitated to share it, thinking of the judgment.

"Real talk: how many of us do this? Okay, maybe you don't write all your insecurities on a mirror, but do you write them on your mental mirror? I decided to do this today while working out, and I thought how powerful this might be for someone else, too.

These are all thoughts I've thought, and frankly, things I've heard about my own body from others. I can remember being insecure and uncomfortable with my own body as far back as fourth grade (so a good 20 years now!). I'm thankful to be rounding the corner and realizing that these words (mental or physical) are no measure of my value, and I hope you know they are no measure of yours.

So, let's look in the mirror today and see words like "strong", "funny", "good friend", "beautiful", "handsome", "smart", maybe even "work in progress", but most importantly "alive". Kindle that inner fire, push yourself for you, not for anyone else. I hope today is great for you. You got this!"

I am still "rounding that corner", two years later. Some days it's easier, and some days it's hard as hell not to judge my body. The most powerful lesson I gained from this experience was to continue to give myself grace, day in and day out. Mental mirrors can be detrimental, if we focus on all we believe we lack. But these mirrors can be beautiful reminders that we are strong, funny, a good friend, beautiful, handsome, smart, and always a work in progress.