Mirror Work

Society has become such a fast-paced lifestyle that most of us don’t spend enough time in mirror work to see how we really show up in the world.

I am reading a book (and involved with a book study) called The Four Pivots by Shawn A. Ginwright, PhD. I  just started reading it, but I already see some interesting insights in the first pivot.

What is Mirror Work?

According to Louise Hay’s book on the subject:

(Mirror work)… reveals your most basic fear and your most terrible self-judgments. But if you keep looking in the mirror, you will begin to see through those judgments and see who you really are. Mirror work is the most effective method I’ve found for learning to love yourself and see the world as a safe and loving place. 

In simple terms, mirror work is taking the time for self-reflection on our life and reactions to it. But, as I said, our society is based on task orientation, which does not leave time for self-reflection or mindful attention to our lives, actions, or thoughts.

A good example was the day I judged a friend and her words (see the article here:  Practicing Open-Mindedness). After judging my friend, I was prompted to really examine my own prejudices! I took the time to engage in my personal mirror work!

How We Practice This Work?

Most non-profit organizations I have participated in have some beautiful flowing Mission/Vision Statements. But I seldom saw where these organizations were looking at how they looked and acted in the world. Creating these inspiring statements is only a place to start. It is not easy to do the hard work of being vulnerable and honest. Something we, as a society, are not always good at!

Shawn Ginwright challenges us by asking:

What do you want? (It) requires that we hold up a mirror and reflect, ponder, explore, and wrestle with what really matters for us.  The more we do this, the clearer we become. It means going inside, taking time to let the noise and chatter of the outside world settle, so that we can see with more clarity. Sometimes clarity can come in a moment, and other times it emerges slowly like a flower in a garden.

Shawn Ginwright goes a step further and suggests that mirror work reveals the truth of how we show up for others. And, of course, this can be clouded by obstructions like the prejudices and attitudes we grow up in. Examples are our social class, racial and ethnic identity, gender association, and age — which brings me back to my Practicing Open-Mindedness article.

I genuinely believe we can be better people and society if we take time to do our own private mirror work before going out and trying to influence the world.

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