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National Compliment Your Mirror Day: How positive self-talk works and the science behind high-fiving yourself in the mirror.

You might be thinking, National what day?! Yep, National Compliment Your Mirror Day. It’s a thing. And beyond being a day we can celebrate each July 3rd, it’s actually a scientifically backed habit that can improve your mental health. 


Too often we find ourselves doing the opposite when we look in the mirror; finding all our flaws and perceived imperfections in our reflections rather than complimenting ourselves. Today is the day to reverse that and start a habit of positive reinforcement. 


To participate in National Compliment Your Mirror Day, take a minute at any point in your day to stop and acknowledge the awesome person that you are. Look in the mirror and give that person you see a compliment! Tell them they are a fantastic human being and capable of many amazing things. Pick one thing that you like about yourself to start; it can be related to your appearance or not, and start there. 


What is positive self-talk?

For starters, self-talk is all those thoughts swirling around our heads on a daily basis, whether we’re conscious of them or not. An example of negative self-talk is “I have no idea what I’m doing and I’ll look foolish if I try, so I’ll just sit this out.” Putting a positive spin on that would be, “I’ve never done this before and I’m learning as I go. I’m proud of myself for trying something new.” 


Benefits of positive self-talk

Aside from the obvious of not having a Negative Nancy talking in your ear all day long, researchers have found actual benefits associated with positive thinking. The Mayo Clinic lists the following benefits that have been linked to positive thinking:

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress and pain
  • Greater resistance to illnesses
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease and stroke
  • Reduced risk of death from cancer
  • Reduced risk of death from respiratory conditions
  • Reduced risk of death from infections
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

The science behind the self-talk

If you’re thinking that complimenting your mirror and talking to yourself positively sounds a little bit of a stretch for your Midwestern sensibilities, you’re not alone. But there is science behind it. A study published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience used an MRI to reveal that positive affirmations lights up the reward centers in your brain. Telling yourself, “I will get this promotion,” lights up the same part of your brain that fires when you eat a great piece of chocolate or enjoy other pleasurable experiences. The lead researcher, Christopher Cascio said, “Many studies have shown that these circuits can do things like dampen pain and help us maintain balance in the face of threats.”


Your brain is always creating little shortcuts to keep you alive and functioning. “That means your brain is forever creating shortcuts and that leads to cognitive biases, which are beliefs that we all have without justification,” according to an article on Third Space. One belief you might have about yourself is that you’re out of shape. If you begin to tell yourself that you are beautiful the way you are, your brain will search for ways to confirm that and present it to your conscious mind. Meaning you’ll start to believe whatever you tell yourself. 


How to incorporate positive thinking into your daily life

Like any other skill, being positive requires practice. There are no hard and fast rules on when to give yourself positive affirmations, or how many per day. Start with what works for you. Maybe it’s in the car on your commute, telling yourself that you will have a productive day and that you are an asset to your team. Or while the kids are napping, tell yourself that you’re a great mom who loves her kids and is doing her very best. Maybe it’s while you’re getting ready in the morning, you can tell yourself that you’re beautiful and smart, and you bring joy to so many lives. 


During your downtime, when you’re scrolling, make sure the social media content you’re consuming fits with your new “good vibes only” vibe. Don’t follow accounts or people that make you feel less than or bad about yourself. Follow what uplifts you and makes you happy. 


Here are 10 affirmations to get you started:

  1. I am enough 
  2. I choose to be happy
  3. I believe in myself
  4. I love and accept myself just the way I am
  5. I am worthy
  6. I can achieve anything
  7. Today will be a great day
  8. I am grateful for all that I have
  9. I am becoming more confident every day
  10. I am committed to my success and I will not back down