This exercise helps you examine different components of your identity to inspire a new awareness of the labels you wear personally, and the labels you prescribe to others. It’s for anyone that struggles with their personal identity or self-worth, and for those that wish for a world with less prejudice and stereotyping.

Great for…

  •  People looking for a safe way to begin to strip away the “masks” they wear and increase their vulnerability.
  •  People seeking a deeper understanding and appreciation of their personal identity.
  •  People wanting to let go of their prejudices and create a more equitable world.

“To let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen…we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.”

Brene Brown, The Power of Vulnerability, TEDxHouston, 2010

How many of us shy away from our reflection? How many of us can truly say not only do we SEE our flaws, but we accept them? How often do we see someone in our office, on our walk, while we wait in line at the bank and think, “Hmm, look at that person, they must be _____, because look at ____.” And in an instant, WE have decided WHO or WHAT that person is.

Massive research has been published to support the idea that we often project our own fears and flaws onto others. The drive to label, to put others and ourselves into neat, organized and easily seen categories is not a new desire 먹튀검증커뮤니티. Our brains are wired for a fear of the unknown in order to protect us from danger. Many people harness this fear to breed curiosity, while others use it to breed hate. How can we SEE ourselves so that we may SEE others? And once we begin to really SEE others, how can our language follow suit to tear down the fear and embrace the unknown?

This exercise allows you to spend time examining your reflection in the mirror to discover what features and flaws you notice. What stories does your face tell? Does your eye color come from your father and point to a certain ethnicity? Does the jewelry you wear in your ears, nose, mouth, etc. point to the culture you were raised in?

Once you have taken time to examine your reflection and what labels reflect the components of your identity, you will find your curiosity deepen. Your awareness will pull at you each time you seek a neat and easy label for another person. Your awareness will challenge you and ask: “Who am I to say WHO that person is?”


The materials you will need for this exercise:

  •  A pen/pencil
  •  Paper
  •  A mirror
  •  A timer (either stopwatch or phone would be fine)

1) Find a comfortable and quiet space that you feel would support you in being reflective for anywhere from ten to thirty minutes.

2) Have your mirror and timer handy. Once you are comfortably seated, you will set your timer for 30 seconds. In silence, you will closely examine your facial reflection in the mirror. This feels awkward or uncomfortable for many people. Honor yourself and stick with the silence.

When I have lead this exercise with adolescents, I have verbally suggested beforehand a course for their eyes to travel: from the hairline and the ridges on the forehead and letting their eyes scan from side to side taking in details. This gave them focus and supported their stillness and silence. If you are afraid you may break your silence, try this!

3) For 30 seconds, you should just notice. This is not the space or time to judge, approve, shame, or push away. Send your face compassion and strength. What do you see in the details of your face?

4) When the timer goes off, spend a minute or two and write down your observations.

My personal observations from this exercise:

  •  My right eyebrow is always raised, now matter my expression
  •  My forehead has three deep set lines
  •  My eyes are two different shapes
  •  One of my eyes looks somewhat droopy
  •  All of my features are dark: eyes, hair
  •  My skin is VERY light except my freckles
  •  My nose is soft and round
  •  I have a soft chin
  •  My chin has a scar from falling off my bike
  •  My ears stick out and are weighed down with earrings
  •  I have tiny wrinkles at the corners of my mouth

5) Spend some time considering your personal identity and the labels you wear to reflect it. The following categories represent different components of individual identity.

  •  Race
  •  National origin
  •  Ethnicity
  •  Gender
  •  First language
  •  Religious affiliation
  •  Socio-economic group
  •  Age
  •  Ability (physical, emotional, developmental)
    Read through the list and consider the following questions:
  •  How do I see myself in that category?
  •  Where on my face can I see that component of my identity?
  •  What labels have others given me in this category that I am resisting?

Some of my personal reflections from doing this exercise:

  •  I racially identify as white and my skin tone certainly reflects that.
  •  My socio-economic group is upper middle class and I reflect that in the money I do investing in keeping my hair done and highlighted, my eyebrows waxed, and my diamond earrings in my ears.
  •  My gender is female and I think I reflect it in the softness of my face.
  •  My dark features point to my Irish heritage. This is where I have often been prescribed a label of “drunk” and “lazy” that historically has been associated with Irish culture.

6) Reflect for a moment and think back to an instance where you labeled another person without inviting conversation or curiosity. Where have I given a label to another person’s identity?

This work is often uncomfortable and may make you feel shame for thoughts and actions in the past. It is ok to own and admit that you once spoke, act, and thought from a place of less knowledge. But, now that you know better, you can begin to DO better. Acknowledging where we have room to grow and do better is difficult, but necessary for us to make our lives and our communities more supportive and equitable.

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