ETR 243: Mirror-Checking & Mirror Avoidance (Body Image Series)

SummerBody Image, Eat the Rules, Self-Love, Self-Worth

Podcast in the Body Image Series: Mirror-Checking & Mirror Avoidance
Body Image Series: Mirror-Checking & Mirror Avoidance

In this episode of Eat the Rules, it’s the body image series and I’m talking about overcoming mirror-checking and mirror avoidance.

I also talk about why mirror-checking is often a hidden substitute for the scale, whether you should take a break from mirrors, and when it’s appropriate to use mirrors to heal body image.

In This Episode, I Chat About

  • How mirror-checking is a hidden form of checking body size,
  • That it is often done unconsciously, without understanding its impact,
  • That this is compulsive and habitual for some people, and having awareness is key to breaking this habit,
  • Four questions to ask yourself to assess if mirror-checking is problematic for you,
  • How it creates a disconnect between our mind and our body,
  • Why completely avoiding mirrors can also be problematic,
  • What happens to our brain when we avoid mirrors,
  • That we want to drop the expectation of loving our bodies and aim for neutrality,
  • How we’ve been conditioned to value our worth based on how we look,
  • Plus so much more!

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      This episode of eat the rules is brought to you by you on fire you on fire is the online group coaching program that I run that gives you a step by step way of building up your self worth beyond your appearance. With personalized coaching from me incredible community support and lifetime access to the program so that you can get free from body shame and live life on your own terms. Get details on what’s included and sign up for the next cycle at summer forward slash you on fire, I’d love to have you in that group. This is eat the rules, a podcast about body image self worth, anti dieting, and intersectional feminism. I am your host summer Innanen. a professionally trained coach specializing in body image self worth and confidence and the best selling author of body image remix. If you’re ready to break free of societal standards and stop living behind the number on your scale, then you have come to the right place. Welcome to the show.

      This is episode 243. And it’s another episode in the body image series. I’m talking about mirrors why mirror checking is often a hidden substitute for the scale, whether you should take a break from mirrors, and when it’s appropriate to use mirrors to help heal our body image. If you struggle with the mirror or mirror checking, then you don’t want to miss this episode, you can find the show notes at summer forward slash 243. I’ve got three announcements actually for for announcements, one, there are no transcripts for the episodes, you can find those in the show notes. Finally, also big announcement for the month of October 2022. I will give you a free audio and ebook copy of my best selling book buddy imagery mix if you leave a review for the show. So all you need to do is go to iTunes search for eat the rules, click ratings and review reviews and click to leave a review. And then just send me a message you can reply to any of the emails I send you, you can send me an email at info at summer Or you can DM me on Facebook or Instagram and I’ll send you a copy of my book. Easy as that. So for the whole month of October 2022. That’s what we’re going to do. And you can just leave a simple review like this one, learning so much from this thank you for this toolbox of happiness from Hashcat.

      Thank you so much in Sweden nonetheless, amazing love it. So yeah, that’s how simple it is. And I’ll send you a copy of my book. And then last announcement is just where you can get some of the free stuff here. Don’t forget to grab the free 10 Day body confidence makeover at summer forward slash freebies with 10 steps to take right now to feel better in your body. If you are a professional who works with people who may also have body image struggles, get the free body image coaching roadmap to give you a guide to how you can best support your clients or students or however you work with people at summer forward slash roadmap. Today we’re talking about mirrors, I find that people often struggle with either mirror checking where they’re kind of checking their body to evaluate their size, or they completely avoid the mirror. And so I’m going to talk about both of those things today. Last episode, Episode 242, we talked about why you should get rid of your scale and other forms of tracking food and your body. And I mentioned mirror checking there. Because mirror checking is often a hidden form of tracking our body size. A lot of times people don’t even recognize that they’re doing it. It’s almost similar to the scalar. So if you’re not getting a number, you’re just getting like a kind of a mental evaluation. And I wanted to elaborate on it because I find that a lot of people are doing this unconsciously without understanding the impact that it’s having. And the impact that it would be having would be the same things that I mentioned in the previous episode, just in terms of it disrupting trust with your body and keeping you more inside your head versus in your body and so on and so forth. I’ll kind of touch on some of those again, but you can check out episode 242 for that. So I’m going to talk about why mirror checking is a hidden substitute for the scale. Whether you should take a break from mirrors when it’s appropriate to use mirrors to help heal our body image as well. So mirror checking is when you look in the mirror and you focus on a body part or an area of your body or your whole body. Maybe most people it’s often their tummy I find are maybe like their thighs or their hips or something to evaluate its size. So you look in the mirror and your eyes directly go to you know maybe where your tummy is and you look at it. Maybe You can’t lift your shirt up even to look at it. And it’s otherwise known as body checking, not like body checking, and in hockey or anything like that. But when you’re checking your body, and we’re using it to evaluate our body size, we’re looking and we’re thinking, okay, my tummy looks bigger, my tummy looks smaller, for example, and often like it’s happening quite quickly, it’s happening almost unconsciously. But it can still create the same sort of problems that I see when people are using the scale because we may end up using that information to determine how we feel about ourselves, what we’re going to eat, or how we’re going to move our body. And we might use mirrors or reflections in Windows to do this as well. I find this to be compulsive and habitual for some people, which makes it much harder to break, we can be on autopilot with it, we can do it every time we go to the bathroom every time we see a reflection, which is why having awareness is really key to breaking this habit. And before I go further, I just want to say that checking yourself out in the mirror can be totally innocuous as well, there may be nothing wrong with you checking yourself out in the mirror. I’m not saying don’t check yourself out in the mirror. The only way to know if you’re truly like mirror checking if it’s really kind of a substitute for the scale, is to bring awareness to it and get curious and see what you’re doing with the information the mirror is giving you. Here are four questions that you can ask yourself to assess whether mirror checking might be problematic for you. Number one, is it making you feel better or worse? Number two, does it give you a sense of control? Number three, does it dictate how you feel about yourself? Number four, do you use it to determine how you should eat or move your body? So if you answered yes to any of those four questions, then you may want to evaluate your relationship to it. Because only you can know whether you’re doing this as a way to evaluate your body size. I want to talk about why it’s similar to the scale. It’s similar because we end up relying on it as a way to validate ourselves or give us cause for concern that we need to get something under control. We may even use it to cope with emotions, perhaps we’re feeling anxiety and using mirror checking as a way to cope with it. And again, like often we’re not even bringing awareness to this, we’re just like on autopilot, what I find is that I always suggest people get rid of the scale. And often getting rid of the scale for people can be a monumental step, it can bring up a lot of fear. And so I find that sometimes what happens is, is people turn to mirror checking, as a way to kind of maintain some form of validation from an external source. It’s like, okay, if I can’t have the number on the scale, like, you know, I will just assess I will look at my body and then like it’s, it’s giving you like that some sense of control or distraction from uncomfortable emotions. And ultimately, it’s it’s taking us away from from what we’re actually feeling, it’s creating this disconnect between our mind and our body, you know, you may actually wake up and feel like, I don’t know kind of neutral or or not too bad. And then you go a mirror check and you feel worse about yourself. And so similar to what I talked about in the previous episode, Episode 242 it it really keeps us in our head instead of in in our body and being like this embodied human with awareness of our emotions and things that we’re experiencing in our needs. If you really struggle with mirror checking, then definitely check out my Yuan FIRE program, we cover mirror checking in the first part of the program. And I have a process to really help you face away from from doing it. The question that people often ask me though, is should you take a break from mirrors, should you take a break from mirrors, some experts would recommend covering all your mirrors up or avoiding them completely. And that can be helpful in in some cases. You know, sometimes I might tell a client to really try to avoid mirrors, if they’re in a spot where they’re checking and or they’re going through a bit of you know, weight restoration, and I just, we just want to really focus on, you know, how we’re feeling versus like how we look. And it’s really interesting, like I used to live when I lived back in Toronto, I used to have full length mirrors on my closet doors. So my closet doors were they were all mirrors and I used to mirror check in there all the time. I used to like look at see what my legs look like and so look at my stomach and everything else. And when I moved out to the West Coast, it was eight years ago now. I didn’t have full length mirror anymore. I didn’t have any full length mirrors anymore. And it was really interesting that process even though my I would say my body image was in a pretty good spot that it was really interesting to go through that process because I think I was still you know subconsciously like mirror checking when I had just right there in front of me all the time. And when I just didn’t have that anymore, like I never really saw my lower body. So it was, it was really interesting. I feel like it really helped play a role kind of like to get me to a point where I just like, didn’t really think much about my body anymore. Because it wasn’t there to like, really look at like, I wasn’t consciously looking at it, I could really only see from kind of my waist up. So you can always do it as an experiment to see how it makes you feel, you know, taking a break from mirrors. Or maybe if you have a full length one, you sort of cover up a part of it. So that could be great. If you’re a chronic mirror checker and you really need to disrupt this habit, I don’t typically recommend it because I think there are other ways that we can manage this process. But I think it depends on like, how do you have mirrors all over your house? Do you have full length mirrors everywhere, because then we maybe want to do some sort of reconfiguration to help us in that process. So

      it kind of depends on your environment. Speaking of being stressed out by things, you know, I’ve struggled with anxiety before and coffee was one of those things that really triggered it. Therefore, I had to stop drinking it. But I missed that feeling of being more awake and alert, and term magic mind and elixir filled with things that give you more energy and focus without that jittery, impatient feeling that coffee gives you. It’s so easy to use. It’s in this little shot bottle, and it tastes great, you take it and you immediately feel more focused and productive. And that’s because of the ingredients in it like the lion’s mane Cordyceps mushrooms, not those kinds of mushrooms, and l theanine, it’s been really great to take because it helps with cognitive function, memory focus, and overall feels so much better than coffee. And I’ve noticed that I’m able to be more focused and productive and not be distracted by checking my phone and can produce really great podcast episodes like this one. So it’s been a wonderful thing. And you should check it out, I have a 20% off code to share with you all it’s rules 20 Are you l e s two zero. To use it, you can go to magic forward slash rules and enter the code rules 20. At checkout, the best part is that they have a money back guarantee. And if you get the subscription, it’s 40% off my 40% off code only last 10 days. So hurry up, you can find that at magic forward slash rules and use the code rules 20. The opposite end of the spectrum is if you completely avoid mirrors or pictures. So I usually see people who struggle with body image either doing one behavior, so they’re either mirror attacking, or they’re doing the other they’re completely avoiding. And where I My goal is when I’m working with people generally if they’re aligned with these goals as well, where we want to get to is a place where you can look in the mirror and just be fairly neutral or ambivalent with what you see. So maybe some days you like what you see, maybe some days you don’t necessarily like what you see. But that reflection doesn’t have the same power over you. It doesn’t dictate your emotions are how you feel about yourself. It’s just like, okay, hey,

      there I am. All right on with my life, maybe I don’t like the way my face looks today. Or my body, but it’s just, you know, it kind of is what it is. And obviously like, you know, sometimes we can move to a place where you actually maybe do find appreciation or you know, you have days where you’re like, Oh, I look kind of cute. But ultimately, I want really just our sense of self worth to be detached from what the image is telling us. So I think that the problem that I see is that we either have chronic marriage hackers, which can be problematic, or we have other people who completely avoided mirrors, which I also think is problematic, because the problem with avoiding mirrors is that when we do see an image of ourselves, so if we are seeing a photo of ourselves, or we are in a change room at a clothing store, we’re much more likely to feel shock, or that kind of jarring reaction where you think to yourself, oh my god, this is what I look like, I really need to do something about this, we’re much more likely to have that reaction. If we’ve been avoiding mirrors or photos. It can incite panic in us and we may then go end up going back to harmful behaviors or avoiding mirrors and photos even more. And it kind of keeps us in that in that spiral. So we don’t want to avoid looking at ourselves completely. Because I’m assuming that most of you or most people want to be in pictures or they want to be able to go to you know, a change room and be okay with what they see. We want to be able to see ourselves and have that that neutral response. And so what’s happening when we avoid mirrors is that our brain hold So this blueprint of how we think we should look. And that can be influenced by, you know, how we feel on the inside, or how we kind of remember how we looked. And if you are going up against that, and then seeing how you look. Now currently, if you haven’t really seen like a really good image of yourself recently, or a picture, or like seeing yourself in a full length mirror, then you might feel more shattered, if you don’t like what you see, or if it surprises or it shocks you. Because it’s not matching the blueprint that you have, in your mind. I’ve heard a lot of my clients say the phrase, my inside doesn’t match my outside, you know, like, I feel really good, or I feel like, you know, youthful on the inside. And then when I see myself, I’m just like, Who is that? And, and I think that’s really common. And so if you are seeing a picture of yourself or a fraction of yourself, and it’s not what you expect, that can bring up a ton of feelings. And those feelings aren’t necessarily bad, we definitely want to process those feelings. Feelings are really important. And it can be extremely healing to feel those feelings. But we can start to use mirrors as a tool in the healing process. So that we are normalizing how we look. So that when we look in the mirror, we’re like, okay, I know what I look like, like, it’s not a surprise, it’s not a shock. That’s how I look in photos, okay, there I am cool. And it doesn’t get there just overnight, takes a bit of work. It takes intention takes practice, but I use it when I’m working with clients as a way to start to normalize how they look. And often it also really helps in the process of of processing the emotions that we’ve been holding in about our bodies. And when we process those feelings, it goes a long way towards quieting our inner critic and shifting our perspective on things. So the more we see how we look, the more our brain knows what to expect. And then our reaction just turns into like, Oh, hey, there I am. And that can be super, super helpful. So if you’re listening to this, and any of it resonates, I want to just leave you with some things to consider and what to do with that. So one is to just be curious about where you sit on the spectrum, you know, do you check excessively? Or do you avoid mirrors, we want to end up somewhere in the middle, you know, we want to take baby steps to move towards the middle. And so I wouldn’t suggest going from one extreme to the other. So if you have avoided mirrors, I would never suggest that you go and look at yourself naked in a full length mirror. That is not the first step that we would take, I would say maybe we look at your face more, or maybe we do your upper body. And I think that we want to end up ultimately where, you know, maybe you can see yourself naked, and it’s just kind of neutral. But I would say that it probably would take a long time to get there. If you’ve been avoiding mirrors. The other thing to keep in mind is that we want to drop the expectation to love what we see or to think that we’re hot. And we want to you know, aim for this place of of neutrality. And you can check out episode 214. All about body neutrality. That’s what it’s called all about body neutrality. For more on on, you know what that really means how that feels what that looks like. And just be curious with yourself when you see yourself like just be curious with like, what am I feeling? What’s this bringing up for me, and know that what you’re feeling underneath, it is more than just an issue of appearance. It’s it’s not just about like, the fact that you have stomach roll or the fact that you have cellulite. It’s really about other stuff that’s going on underneath other feelings, how we’re valuing ourselves, how we’ve been conditioned to view ourselves how we’ve been conditioned based on the narratives in our culture, the fat phobic narratives, the racist narratives, the ages of narratives, all of that stuff, and how we’ve been conditioned to really value our worth based on how we look. So the solution isn’t to change how you look. I mean, that might give temporary relief. But it’s really more about unpacking all that stuff to create like a new belief system underneath that really just values you know who we are. And there’s a lot that goes into undoing them and unhooking your sense of self worth from your appearance. So if this is something that you really struggle with, definitely get support if you need it. I do a lot of work with people around both of these things and have specific ways to help people move towards that middle point where you can be okay with what you see. So, I’ve been wanting to do this episode for a while, I think it’s really relevant. And hopefully you’ve taken some stuff away here or you’ve had some new perspectives to think about, and you can start to make some little changes to move more towards that middle points. You can find all the links and resources mentioned in this episode at summer forward slash 243. Don’t forget to let me know if you left a review for the show and I’ll send you a call I’ll be of the book. And thank you so much for listening today rock on

      I’m Summer Innanen And I want to thank you for listening today. You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook at summer Innanen And if you haven’t yet, go to Apple podcasts search, eat the rules and subscribe rate and review this show. I would be so grateful. Until next time, rock on.

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