How to Use the World as a Mirror for Personal Growth

mirroring for personal developmentEvery day, the world serves as your mirror. Whatever you see or experience provides a reflection of yourself.

What do I mean by that?

Mirroring is the concept that everything around you reflects back information about you. Any person, situation, or environment that triggers negative emotion in you provides you with the opportunity to recognize in yourself a quality you lack or possess.

How to Look in the Mirror

Consider someone that always seems to irritate you. Whatever bothers you about that person is a reflection of a quality you either lack (and wish you possessed) or possess (but don’t want to admit you express or wish you lacked).

Maybe you live in a city, and the trash you see on the streets makes you angry. Ask yourself, “What does this mirror to me?” If you are honest with yourself, you might realize that you’ve got a lot of trash, too—possibly in the form of old emotional baggage. Or you leave your kitchen sink filled with dirty dishes for days or have stacks of old magazines and papers all over your apartment. The trash on the street reflects that information back to you.

If a coworker’s rudeness bothers you, look at whether they’re reflecting your own rudeness. If not, maybe they’re mirroring the fact that you’re always nice so try not to ruffle anyone’s feathers. Perhaps you never speak up or express your genuine emotions or thoughts. Instead, you always appear outwardly pleasant and happy when, inside, you are irritated, impatience, and judgmental. That person’s rudeness bothers you because you wish you could express yourself—maybe not be rude—but authentically share how you feel and what you think.

The world mirrors back to you all the time. It’s important to understand that reflection.

What Happened When I Looked into a Mirror

Recently, I got upset with a family member. I was so mad, and I spoke to everyone about this person’s behavior. “He’s so selfish and self-centered,” I said over and over again.

I also felt sad…sad that this person wasn’t being thoughtful or treating another family member with compassion. I felt terrible for that family member, and as I would talk about the other person’s behavior, I’d cry.

What the heck?

I was looking in a mirror. I was at fault of similar behavior. “Really?” I thought. “Is that me?” When I acknowledge that it was—to some degree, I was shocked.

The Mirroring Opportunity

At that moment, I had an opportunity—to change.

I asked myself, “Is that who I want to be—like this person I’m criticizing? Is that how I want to behave?”

I responded, “No. That is not who I want to be. I want to step into my best self who is somebody compassionate, considerate, grateful, and appreciative—especially with the people I love who do a lot for me.”

The mirror gave me the opportunity to step into the person I wanted to be and to express the qualities I valued.

What are Your Mirrors?

To find your mirrors, look around and pay attention to the emotions you feel. Or answer these questions:

  • Who upsets me or brings out negative emotions in me?
  • What situations do I most struggle with?
  • What do I judge?

Look at these people or situations as mirrors of yourself. Then answer this question: How am I like them in some sense, or what do they have that I don’t.

Look for the qualities they embody that you don’t. For instance, if you become irritated at people who are competitive, ambitious, and work hard and who get acknowledged at work and receive promotions, it’s time to take a look at whether you have the same level of ambition and the same work ethic—or if you do not. Maybe these people irritate you because you don’t want to put out that much effort but you want the same results.

And don’t forget to look at every situation or event for information mirrored back to you. About 20 years ago the brakes gave out on my car. For months I’d been rushing around. I felt like I was on a fast track with no way to slow down or stop.

No wonder my brakes gave out and caused me to be unable to stop the car. I needed to get off that fast track and learn how to slow down and stop.

Life is One Big Mirror

Look at everything in your life and say, “What is that mirroring to me?” Spend some time thinking and journaling about this topic.

And every time you feel strong emotions come up—especially negative ones, like anger, jealousy, judgment, or irritation—notice what you see in the mirror.

Once you see and understand the reflection clearly, make a change. Then watch for new reflections—ones that bring you such positive emotions as gratitude, joy, passion, and enthusiasm.

As you begin to change yourself for the better—as you step into your best self—you will see more pleasing reflections in your mirror.

Tell me in a comment below what little things make the most difference in your life.


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Does life mirror unwanted things to you? Do you find the reflections upsetting and unpleasant? It’s time to change what you see in the mirror. Become the person you know you can be…the person you want and know you were meant to be. It’s time to get out of your own way and get from where you are to where you want to go. Give me an hour of your time, and I’ll help you see how to step into your best self. To apply for a one-hour FREE Certified High Performance Coaching strategy session, fill out this application.

7 thoughts on “How to Use the World as a Mirror for Personal Growth”

  1. Nice one, Nina. That’s what I have been teaching for many years.

    By the way, did you ever receive my eBook “You Are the Light: Secrets of the Sages Made Simple” which I sent to you in appreciation for your outlook, a few months ago?

    I never heard back.

  2. Yes, this is one of the uncomfortable truths for those seeking to live an authentic life of spiritual, personal growth and integrity. It has stunned me at times to find those negative qualities in me that were bothering me in someone else. Talk about squirming and getting uncomfortable! No! That can’t be in ME!

    But I always find that the benefit of choosing integrity with myself and with God, leading me thru the healing of what needs to be healed, brings a strength of character, a level of personal, inner integration that is so worth getting thru any discomfort.

    With that said, I also tend to forget this aspect of how to more accurately interpret what’s happening in my world and what is the best way for me respond. So – thank you for the reminder!

  3. I tell people in my practical tarot reading to view their external world and ask how that is going on inside them. Some really don’t want to hear that they are the nucleus of their problems. I can only hope they realize it in time. “What about that situation or person is me?” Requires that we be honest with ourselves, which few of us were conditioned to do.

  4. This is what I struggle with, if everyone is a reflection , I tend to get people telling me indirectly in a round about way, I always will be poor and never have anything, part of me does believe that, however, what reflection could I be serving to them for them to say such things, I believe they tend to assume based on me being unmployed and unmarried.

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