"Could you stand in front of the mirror, please?"
A well known fact locally is that Oakingtons was formerly a wedding dress shop. When we took over the lease on the shop, there were 3 rather large mirrors along one of the walls.
"A-ha!" I said, "that will be perfect for one of the rooms". During the renovations one of the plasterers made a throwaway comment about poles and mirrors and asked what kind of establishment it was going to be! Horrified, I asked my husband to remove the mirrors. He refused on the theory that all 3 would have to be broken to remove them from the room and the last thing a new business would need is 21 years of bad luck! The mirrors stayed, the poles were surrounded by the new walls.
The room with the mirrors in is now my treatment room and I couldn't be happier that they are there. To start with I found them a little disconcerting. In my head I am still 23 years old and yet I would get a glimpse of myself and wonder where all the wrinkles had come from. I must say, I am far more comfortable in looking in the mirror now. I do not notice the wrinkles or how something fits me but will observe wardrobe malfunctions such as a tucked in collar or a stain on my clinic coat.
Patients can be quite surprising with their attitude to the mirrors. When I ask a patient to stand in front of the mirror in their underwear people tend to either just not be bothered, a little (or very) uncomfortable or, a little more concerning, flatly refuse to.
From experience, patients who are uncomfortable with looking at themselves do usually become more relaxed after a couple of treatments. Some more memorable patients have completely changed in their attitudes towards themselves. One such patient confided they had not even looked at their reflection whilst trying on clothes in a shop until recently and she had felt quite liberated.
It is widely accepted that a confident posture raises self esteem. I remember experimenting with fellow students our 'power poses' before a practical examination. I do not know how it affected my overall grade but it did stop the involuntary shaking of my hands!
So how do we find that all important confident posture? I would suggest standing in front of a full length mirror, close your eyes and picture a piece of string pulling the top of your head upwards whilst feeling both feet firmly on the floor. Try to feel the tension between the top and bottom until you feel as if you are standing tall.
Open your eyes and gently pinch your shoulder blades together to bring your shoulders down and slightly back and relax into the posture. Now look at your body - is it straight? Are there any minor adjustments you could make to improve it?
Now just smile - you can do it! If you repeat this a couple of times a week you will soon be on the road to acceptance of your reflection and far more comfortable in your own skin.
Did I mention to do that in your underwear? No? Small steps...
People are quick to judge and unfortunately it only tends to be the negative comments that stay with us. We should embrace who we are and live in the moment. It's easy to say that you will just cover yourself up on the beach this year and then be 'bikini ready' for next year but really? you will never be as young as you are right now. So celebrate your youth (what ever your age) and wear the bikini (or speedos) this year.
Having a bikini ready body really is a psychological thing as is looking in my mirror. Confront the mirror and embrace your reflection. Life is too short to be avoiding yourself!