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How to Effectively do Mirror Affirmations

Today, I want to follow up on last week’s post about the attitudes that can get in the way of doing mirror affirmations. While it’s important to know how not to approach them, it’s also important to know how to approach them. So, I’d like to say a few words about how to do them effectively.

If you’re just coming to the topic, you may want to check out the story of my initial experience with mirror affirmations, or last week’s story about some of the reasons that people resist them.


First, it’s important to be consistent. A few months ago, I told a story about going to the dentist and talking about having trouble flossing daily. I suggested to the dentist that I could probably manage to floss every other day. His response, which surprised me, was to tell me not to bother; I was going to get so little benefit out of it that it wasn’t even worth it.

Now, I’m not nearly enough of a dental expert to know whether that was him telling me true facts about dental health, or whether it was just him trying to influence my behavior with reverse psychology. (Whichever it was, it worked.) But, I have a similar experience with mirror affirmations. When I started doing them, I was telling myself negative things about myself every single day. I like to think of mirror affirmations as boot camp for positive self-talk. Because they’re practice for learning how to talk to myself, it makes sense to do them about as often as I’m talking negatively to myself. It doesn’t have to be literally every day1, but in my experience it needs to be a lot more common than not.

And, of course, they are practice for a broader behavior. At first, you’ll probably start telling yourself negative critical things about yourself—possibly within minutes or seconds of finishing the affirmation! That’s okay. With consistent practice, over time the language and attitudes will seep into your life away from the mirror.

No Crystal Ball

Second, one common trap is to use the affirmations to reassure yourself about the future. And, I get it. It’s totally understandable to want to say things like “It’s going to be okay” or “You’ll be able to get the job” or “You can be successful at this.”

But, those aren’t affirmations; those are predictions. Although the desire for reassurance about them is completely understandable, the fact is that we don’t know what’s going to happen. My sponsor used to tell me that I didn’t have a crystal ball that worked, and so I should stop trying to make predictions about the future. And, that’s truth: I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, or next week, or next year. Making predictions that turn out not to come true is not helpful when it comes to trusting ourselves.

Actually Use the Damn Mirror

Third, it’s crucially important to use the mirror. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say something like “Well, I could maybe say that stuff to myself, but I can’t (or won’t) look at myself in the mirror when I do it.” But, this is missing most of the point. Humans are wired to feel love and compassion from faces and eye contact. And, the whole point of the exercise is to build self-love and self-compassion. If you don’t look in the mirror, you’re depriving yourself of most of the benefits of the exercise.

And, as I noted last week, if your issue is that you can’t look yourself in the mirror, you’re really just confirming the fact that you could really use the benefits of this exercise. It doesn’t matter if it feels uncomfortable when you do it. What matters is that you do it enough to push through that discomfort.

Adapt the Precise Language of the Affirmation

The core language of mirror affirmations (as I was taught to do them) is very simple: “I like you, I love you, and you’re okay just the way you are.” But, these exact words are not set in stone. They may or may not be the exact thing that you need to hear. So, the final piece of the puzzle for effectively doing them is to experiment with exactly what language works for you.

What I found is that I needed to tell myself the things that I wished my parents could have told me when I was a child. It’s not their fault they didn’t tell me those things—they weren’t told them as kids, and so they didn’t have the tools to tell me those things. But, that’s what I needed to hear.

The exact affirmation can vary and change as you develop your practice, but the core is very simple. Look yourself in the eye, address yourself by name, and tell yourself that you’re okay and you like yourself. If that seems too hard, maybe think about who you can talk to about it. Being stuck in the belief that we’re not good enough is not required.


  1. Athough that was my experience: literally Every. Single. Day. for 9 months.

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