Childhood can be a challenging course for anyone to navigate. No matter how excellent your guidance may be from loving parents and well-intentioned teachers, there is seldom an easy and straight path to self-love. This was also true for me.
Growing up, I oftentimes found myself in front of a mirror, staring at an image reflecting the doubts and concerns I had about what other people thought and would think about me. Well into adolescence, I continued this daily ritual of mirror gazing, hoping to see a face that would reflect a celebration of who I was looking at, rather than an ongoing concern about what other people saw. This continued on into my early adulthood, when the judgments I subjected myself to exceeded those I felt were coming from others. By this point, many years of negative self-talk habits had formed, from the collective hours of staring into the mirror. Self-doubt had the loudest voice in my head.
I began to avoid mirrors all together as a way to avoid the self-depreciation feelings that looking into the mirror always caused me. I came to learn that the strong current of avoidance would never bring me to the welcoming shoreline of self-love. It wasn't until I learned that the mirror could become a constructive tool rather than a destructive device did my love for myself begin to take a shift.
I started a daily practice of looking into the mirror and saying, "I love you" --- to myself, out loud. I wanted to undo the negative thought programming I had spent years giving myself. I thought that maybe seeing and hearing myself address myself this way might have a chance at doing this. After some time, I was able to train my inner voice to become my ally and my champion, instead of my enemy and my foe.
Then, one day, an idea clicked inside my mind. Why not teach this daily practice to children? That set me on a goal of writing a book for children. I was fortunate enough, by introduction from a mutual friend, to meet Michael Tyler, author of the award-winning children's book, The Skin You Live In. He was instantly convinced by the merits of teaching children a self-love practice, and partnered with me to turn my initial draft into a timeless message for all ages.
We launched the book, Mirror Face, in February, during Acts of Random Kindness Week in Atlanta. With endorsing support from Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the Superintendent of the Atlanta Public School System, Dr. Lisa Herring, our book made its way into the hands of 30,000 APS students grades K-5. We also developed a supporting social emotional learning (SEL) curriculum, a program called SELF: social emotional learning fundamentals. Its goal is to teach children how to lead with love, through self-love. Mirror Face and SELF are instructional resources that present a daily affirmation practice for children and their parents, to engage in a shared experience of looking into the mirror to deliver a simple but important message, "I love you mirror face".
We are so excited about our partnership with Hand2Mind. Their See My Feelings Mirror is a wonderful SEL tool that beautifully reflects the message of Mirror Face and the intention of SELF. If we can teach children to see the love inside their hearts through the mirror, we can create the next generation of love-based leaders to reflect that throughout society.
To learn more about Mirror Face, SELF and The Mirror Face Challenge please go to www.iloveyoumirrorface.com