top of page

How to Overcome Not Being Able to Look at Yourself in the Mirror

Updated: Mar 31, 2022

If you are struggling with low self-esteem, it may be difficult to look at yourself in the mirror. Mirrors reflect an image of ourselves back to us. When we don’t like ourselves, it can be hard to look at ourselves. Overcoming low self-esteem is achievable with some adjustments to your thought process and behavior.

Part 1

Changing Your Thoughts


Identify the cause. Ask yourself why you can't look at yourself in the mirror. Did you do something that conflicts with your values and you're upset about it? Do you feel unhappy with your appearance? Before you can overcome, you must be honest with yourself about what it is that is bothering you.


Judge your actions, not yourself. It’s important to separate your actions from who you are. Guilt or feeling badly about your actions shows that you are a good person who acknowledges a mistake has been made. You can deal with unproductive guilt by accepting you did something wrong, learning from your mistake, and moving on.[1]

o Guilt and shame can and do occur together. Shame is feeling badly about yourself, unworthy or wrong. To eliminate shame, avoid relationships with people who cannot see your self-worth based on yourself and instead foster relationships with people who recognize your intrinsic value.[2]


Challenge your negative thinking. It’s easy to allow negative thoughts to lower our self-esteem. It’s important to avoid seeing and dwelling on only negatives, putting yourself down, and dismissing your achievements.[3]


Try to love yourself more. Take active steps to love and accept yourself. Doing so will help you to look at yourself in the mirror. There are a number of ways to help you love yourself for who you are:[4]

o Write down your strengths. Think about what you are good at. It could be that you are a nice person, that you are empathetic, or that you are great at tennis. If you are having trouble thinking of strengths, ask those around you what your strengths are.

o Speak to your best self. Imagine that you are having a conversation with your best or ideal self. Think about what kind of advice your best self would give you. You may find that a part of you has intelligent, kind, thoughtful things to say to you.[5]


Forgive yourself. If you can't look yourself in the mirror because you did something you're not proud of, try to remind yourself that we all make mistakes. Although easier said than done, instead of beating yourself up for what you did, think about how you can avoid doing it in the future and how you can repair what you have done. [6]


Stop comparing yourself to others. Focus on yourself and how you can improve in ways that are important to you instead of thinking, "Oh look at her, she's so much prettier than me, why can't I look like that?" Feeling inferior is highly related to shame, depression, and social anxiety.[7]

o To avoid comparing yourself to other people try the following. Say you think about how someone is really good at cooking compared to you and this makes you feel envious and bad about yourself. Try to change your thoughts by focusing on something else that you are really good at. Then, instead of comparing yourself to someone else, compare how good you are at it relative to your skill level 2 years ago. Focus on how you have been growing and improving rather than how you compare to someone else.


Keep in mind when we compare ourselves to other people, we are often idealizing the other person in unrealistic ways. Conversely, when we compare another person to us, we are not seeing a realistic version of ourselves. We are seeing a negatively biased version, where we are not giving ourselves the praise we deserve and allowing our inner critic to run amok in our heads. Taking yourself out of this dynamic and praising yourself in your mind for things you do really well will help alleviate this behavior.

o To diminish comparing yourself to others, first you have to catch yourself thinking of a comparative thought. For example, if you think, "Gosh, I wish I was able to have a great career like Emily." When you catch yourself thinking these types of thoughts, you can say, "I'll bet that she worked very hard to get where she is today. I wonder what I can do to get ahead in a career I love." Then you can make a list of actions you can take to further your career in the right direction.


Remind yourself that everyone is beautiful and life is a gift. You are beautifully unique. Your combination of genes, the environment you were raised in, they have worked together to mold you into a unique individual with a unique perspective and personality. Harness this and use it to empower you; work with the hand you were dealt and learn to embrace it and enjoy yourself.

Part 2

Changing Your Behavior


Love others. Focus your attention outward rather than in. Direct yourself to focusing on loving and helping others. Loving and helping others may boost your self-esteem and make you feel much better about yourself. [8][9] This love may also be reciprocated, making you feel even better and more comfortable in your own skin.[10] There are a number of ways to care more about others. You can:

o Buy tickets for the people behind you in line at the movies.

o Donate your time to a charitable cause you care about.

o Buy a nice warm blanket or meal for a homeless person.

o Spend time thinking about what makes someone in your life great. Write him a letter saying as much and thanking him for being a part of your life.


Try changing what you can. You may not be able to look in the mirror because you don't like how you look. While for the most part, your physical appearance is there to stay and it is psychologically important to learn to embrace yourself for who you are, you can in some cases take steps to actively change the way you look.

o If you are struggling with accepting the way you look and you are overweight, engage in steps to reduce your body fat. Try eating slightly smaller meals, say, by 10-15%; do your best to get regular exercise.

o If you do not like the way you look, you can also try giving yourself a make-over. Go buy some new clothes, get a new haircut, try out some new make-up. Take a peek in the mirror and see what you think!


Get outside help. If your negative thoughts stem from something you did or something you think about yourself, you may benefit from talking with someone about how you feel. Let your feelings be known and this can help to heal them. [11]

o Ask a friend to talk about what is bothering you. You may find that even venting and getting things off your chest is helpful.

o Talk to a therapist. Seek out a psychotherapist in your area to help you work through your problems.


Expand your posture. If you are feeling small and don’t want to look in the mirror, try expanding your posture. Studies show that by ‘power posing’ in this way for 2 minutes, you can come to actually feel more powerful and confident.[12]

· To expand your posture, tilt your head back slightly, extend your arms or put them on your hips, stretch out your legs, and/or expand your chest.


Start small. Go in front of the mirror and tell yourself you will only look at yourself in the mirror for 2 seconds. Glance up at the mirror, look yourself right in the eyes while counting to 2. Once you are able to do this, increase the time to 3 seconds, then 4, then 5. This is called exposure therapy and it can be an effective technique to overcome anxiety issues.[13]














58 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

I have one question to ask you....

"Is your mindset helping you or hindering you? Is it time for a perspective shift?" Two questions, I guess Mindset is about challenging your current thoughts and being open to what the new week could


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page