Recently I was reading again about the idea of others being mirrors of ourselves. This is a very powerful concept in terms of our personal growth, for it gives us an opportunity to access our understanding, compassion and tolerance. It is also a very difficult concept to put into practice because of our tendency to hold tightly to denial. Let me explain.
The theory holds that the person who irritates us the most is the one from whom we have most to learn. Consider that the person who drives us up the wall may not affect others the same way at all. They are getting under our skin because there is something we need to see. What is bothering us so much about them is a quality that also exists in us.
Our immediate response to that idea is outright denial! We deny it because it is a quality we dislike so much that we reject even the suggestion we may possess it. Consequently, that one person we cannot stand makes sure that quality is regularly right in our face!
A specific example might be a friend who is disloyal, who talks behind your back. Of course that is hurtful. But there you are, venting to someone else about this, doing exactly what she did. It is probably not the first time you have done that either, if not to this friend, to someone else. Another example might be your annoyance or frustration with a partner who never shows appreciation. You might feel taken for granted. If you stop to reflect though, you might find that you do not do it very often yourself, or when you do it is with the expectation that the compliment will be returned.
Children can be very powerful mirrors. We may try to maintain certain standards in our dealings with them, but they will certainly notice and be affected with we slip up. If we have children who are very angry, we are forced to look our own anger. Parents sometimes think it is alright for them to be angry with the children, but not the other way around. Unfortunately, mirrors do not work that way.
What we see out there is, in some respect, a reflection of something within us. When we change that negative quality within ourselves, we will no longer attract those mirrors.
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or cds, visit www.gwen.ca