Many users on TeenHelp have been inspired by Craig Barton's (a.k.a. CanadaCraig) compassionate and encouraging words at some point, whether it was a random visitor message or a response to a thread. Recently, Craig wrote a book called The Bathroom Mirror, which I have had the pleasure of reading and reviewing this month.
Some of you may be thinking, "How well could a 51-year-old possibly relate to me?" The answer is, better than you would think! This book is a quick read, with fewer than 100 pages of content, but every page has one or more valuable messages to share with readers from all walks of life. The Bathroom Mirror reaches out to the bullies and bullied, the abusers and abused, the "popular" and "freaks," sharing a universal message of love and acceptance for oneself and others.
We have all experienced pain in various forms, but our minds, hearts, and lives do not have to be controlled by the pain we have endured. Everyone copes with this pain in different ways, and Craig offers encouragement to those who have developed addictive behaviors (such as the unhealthy use of drugs, sex, and self-harm) to escape the pain altogether. In this book, Craig talks about how the negative thoughts and words we hold on to are no more powerful than the positive thoughts and words we can choose to substitute for what we have always known, and he empowers readers to embrace the idea of living the lives they have always wanted and deserved to have. No individual, in Craig's mind, is so far gone that they cannot turn their lives around, regardless of what they have done or what others have done to them.
The only aspect of this book I find off-putting is the unconventional text formatting. While useful in emphasizing certain points, it may be distracting to some readers. Additionally, there are two stories in The Bathroom Mirror which may be disturbing or triggering for some readers (one briefly describing an autopsy, and another recounting the death of a beloved pet). These stories are located on pages 34 and 48-50, so you may want to skip those pages if you want to avoid either of these topics.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, especially the section on forgiving others and how "[it] is not about them...you are forgiving someone for your own sake." I can see this book proving beneficial to many individuals, whether they are young teenagers or older adults who struggle with past hurts and ongoing insecurities. Whether you believe your "problems" are relatively small or unimaginably large, you will certainly find several points that are relevant to your situation and worth thinking about.
'The Bathroom Mirror' - The Reviews
My name is Dustin Dockery and here is my review of
“The Bathroom Mirror” by Craig Barton.
I received this book in the mail today and immediately tore the package open and set upon reading it. My initial reaction was me nodding along with a lot of things written in the book. I went thru this book 3 times before I wrote this review and every time I found something new to agree with that I passed over the first time. I won’t write any spoilers but a few chapters had me teary eyed cause what Craig writes is true and will hit home with anyone who has bad experiences in their life. Even if you’re 10 or 110 you should read this book it’s not long and it will only take you at most a hour to read. A special message for parents if your child is a bully or a bullying victim you should buy them this book. I can’t say enough good things about this book everyone should read this book and should be mandatory in elementary to high school.
I am honored to have been chosen by Craig to review his book I hope my review helps you as much as the book helped me!
"There is an emerald river softly flowing through this book – every wave reveals a new gem that reminds us to value and love ourselves. This book is a keeper; I keep it in my purse as a survival guide."
As someone who had a white picket fence childhood, "The Bathroom Mirror" allowed me to get some idea as to what it may have been like for someone struggling with image issues. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household of humour and support. I can't imagine living in a house or being in an environment where someone had to suffer the indignity of image bashing on a daily basis. It angers me even now.
It also gives one pause to stop and think, "Was I one of those bullies?" I like to think I wasn't, But High School was over 30 years ago now and I can't be sure that I didn't get sucked in to the mentality of the herd.
"The Bathroom Mirror" uses direct and plain language without being condescending. For those who are dealing with their own issues and even to those who caused others to feel 'less than', this book gives simple tools to redirect the 'comfortable' thought patterns. It gently challenges the reader with a "Why?" followed by a reality check. No preaching, no judgement, no apologies.
'The Bathroom Mirror' isn't one of the many books out there written by someone who has simply done research on what they are talking about. It was written by someone who knows what people are going through. And it was written in such a way as to show the readers that their flaws are not something bad and terrible, but something to be embraced which is extremely rare in our society today. This book has pressed me to see not only what my own true flaws are but also what I thought were my flaws and separate them so that I can work on what the real problems are in my life instead of beating myself up over something that is just a part of me that some people dislike. It also showed me that I wasn't alone, which was the biggest thing for me since for so long I have felt alone and lost in the world.
I believe that this book has the potential to help many, many people if only they just go out, buy it and have a look inside.
For several years and through a variety of Web sites I've read Craig Barton's advice and social observations and have continually been impressed by his compassion, wisdom, and empathy. I'm grateful to now have many of his valuable thoughts collected together in printed form in The Bathroom Mirror. This short, easy-to-read book is a great source of guidance and encouragement for anyone who has been bullied, abused, depressed, or felt their self-worth challenged in any way.
Two of the most valuable aspects of Craig's writing are his empathetic perspective and his use of analogy. He speaks to the reader as someone who has "been there;" as someone who has experienced the same fears, doubts, and challenges and been able to find and maintain his sense of identity and value despite of them. He also frequently uses simple analogies to make emotional and abstract concepts clearer and easier for people to accept. I've always been a fan of analogy myself.
I'm sure anyone who reads The Bathroom Mirror will find at least one useful or thought-provoking idea. Even the items that don't apply to you personally will likely be helpful to someone you know. It's a great book to browse through when you're feeling down and could use a fresh perspective.