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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