Mirror, Mirror -- What Do I See?
"A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world. Everyone you meet is your mirror."-Ken Keys
Mirrors have a very particular function. They reflect the image in front of them. Just as a physical mirror serves as the vehicle to reflection, so do all of the people in our lives.
When we see something beautiful such as a flower garden, that garden serves as a reflection. In order to see the beauty in front of us, we must be able to see the beauty inside of ourselves. When we love someone, it's a reflection of loving ourselves. We have often heard things like "I love how I am when I'm with that person." That simply translates into I'm able to love me when I love that other person. Oftentimes, when we meet someone new, we feel as though we 'click' - sometimes it's as if we've known each other for a long time. That feeling can come from sharing similarities - i.e. personality, background, history, character traits, etc. We are comfortable because part of ourselves is being reflected.
Just as the 'mirror' or other person can be a positive reflection, it is more likely that we'll notice it when it has a negative connotation. For example, it's easy to remember times when we have met someone we're not particularly crazy about. We may have some criticism in our mind about the person. This is especially true when we get to know someone with whom we would rather spend less time - as opposed to more.
Frequently, when we dislike qualities in other people, ironically, it's usually the mirror that's speaking to us. Example: Several years ago, I joined a friend who had invited several other friends as well. One woman, 'Laura' continuously dominated the conversation. Each time someone tried to interject a thought or start a different thread, Laura always brought it back to her story. It was particularly annoying as I felt there was little opportunity to get to know the other people because Laura consistently put the attention back onto herself. It wasn't until several weeks had passed that I questioned and couldn't understand why was I so disturbed by Laura's behavior as I didn't have to be friends or spend more time with her. Finally, it hit me! When I was REALLY honest with myself, I saw aspects of those same traits in me. I realized that the reason we met was for me to hold up the 'mirror' and see myself behaving in an unfavorable manner.
So I began questioning myself further each time I encountered someone that I didn't particularly like. Each time, I asked myself "What is it about that person that I don't like?" And then "Is there something similar in me?' In every instance, and sometimes I had to really get very introspective, I could see a piece of that quality in me. So what did that mean?
It means that just as I can get annoyed or disturbed when I notice that aspect in someone else, I better re-examine my qualities and consider making some changes. Even if I'm not willing to make a drastic change, at least I consider how I might modify some of the things that I'm doing.
At times we meet someone new and feel distant, disconnected, or disgusted. Although we don't want to believe it - and it's not easy or desirable to look further - it can be a great learning lesson to figure out what part of the person is being reflected in you. It's simply just another way to create more self-awareness.
INVITATION TO EXPERIMENT:
As you encounter people, see if you can figure out what part of you is being reflected. If you notice negative qualities, see if you are willing to look carefully at that part of you. It's an opportunity for you to make a change for the better. At first, it may seem as though there's no connection. Upon further introspection and giving it some time, you may just figure it out.
Marion Franklin - is a Professional Certified Life Coach who coaches individuals and groups regarding personal and professional change, focus, human relations, and conflict management. Marion has coached managers at major corporations including PepsiCo, Toys'R'Us, and Reader's Digest. She conducts and help clients design workshops and presentations, has been a featured presenter at meetings, retreats, and an ongoing Women's Workshop Series, has been cited in The Journal News and The Wall Street Journal, and has appeared on local Cable Television.
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