Teacher Tune-Up | Making Peace With the Mirror

by Sandi Duncan

It’s a new day of classes and you’re ready to share what you know and love. You’ve chosen your music, created your combos, and put on your workout attire. You enter the empty dance space, set up your music, and glance in the mirror.

“Whoa! Wait, is that me?” you wonder. “Have I really aged so much overnight? Where did those extra pounds come from?” Dejectedly you push aside the memory of feeling pretty good when you left the house at 8 a.m. No matter how you shift your bangs to cover new wrinkles or tug on your sweatshirt to create more of a waistline, it doesn’t seem to help. Students are waiting to enter the classroom, and you realize that right now, you need to let go of the fact that yes, you are aging before your own eyes. Oh mirror, mirror, why do you torment us so?

Does this sound familiar? We dance teachers live our lives in front of the mirror. Because we see our own reflections so often, we may have a fairly strong love–hate relationship with ourselves. A major part of our job is helping each of our students to develop a healthy body image—and yet we may be struggling with our own body images. The mirror is an important teaching tool, and it isn’t going anywhere. So it’s essential that we figure out how to make peace with the mirror, and with our own reflections.

Self-doubt can affect all areas of our lives. So think back to a time in life when you felt confident and proud. I’ll wager that during that time, you could look in the mirror and appreciate your own reflection. I want you to feel that self-assurance again, to look in the mirror and feel self-love, not self-loathing. So here is my message to you: Today is your day to celebrate you and all of the beauty of what you were, are, and will become!

Nurturing self-love takes persistence. These steps may help.

  1. Stand in front of the mirror (no eye rolling, please). Look carefully at your reflection. Find seven features you appreciate. Write them down.
  2. Create an affirmation expressing appreciation for each feature. For example, “I love and appreciate my beautiful eyes and the ability to see clearly.”
  3. Memorize these seven affirmations and write them out each day. Again, no eye rolling. This will take about five minutes of your time.
  4. Repeat these statements to yourself each morning when you wake up. Allow them to become part of who you are. It may feel silly at first, but soon you’ll start to believe them.
  5.  When self-doubt creeps in while you’re teaching, gently repeat one of your affirmations to yourself. Make a pact with yourself: you won’t grunt at your reflection in the mirror when it displeases you, and you will treat yourself as you would treat others—with kindness and appreciation.
  6. Photo by Kimi Duncan

Take time to appreciate yourself and all of the value you bring to this world. Day by day, you will begin to see the good in yourself that others see in you.


Sandi Duncan is a senior staffer at Melissa Hoffman Dance Center. A certified life coach, she conducts team-building seminars and workshops for studios nationwide.