Mirror, mirror…Dare I truly see myself?
As we journey through life, we meet people that reflect back to us aspects of ourselves that we like and dislike. The people we admire reflect to us the qualities of ourselves that we like, or that we wish to possess in greater measure. For example, I admire Oprah because of how fearlessly she steps into her power while also maintaining poise and a measure of humility that makes her endearing. What I admire in Oprah are the qualities within myself that are seedlings I am nourishing and growing. For positive aspect mirrors, simply be aware that what you like in another person is an aspect of yourself that you like.
Harder to look at are people who possess those qualities that are shadow aspects of ourselves. We have all met someone who “triggers” us, who we dislike immediately and push away with criticism and judgment. Those qualities we are repulsed by are, at a deeply denied level, qualities we possess ourselves that lurk in our shadow self. For example, I can be triggered by people who insist they know the one right way to do something. What bothers me about this is how it denies me of having a way to do that “something” that is different and still valid. This need to be right is a deep shadow part of myself of which I am aware. When I discover a shadow aspect of myself, the work is to loosen and dissolve it by understanding what feeds that aspect of self, and finding a more positive way to nourish and strengthen myself. In this case, the work is to continue to gently redirect myself towards self-validation and trusting my own intuition.
In rare cases, you meet a life-size mirror of yourself so that you can fully experience yourself as others do. I have had the honor of meeting such a mirror, and while the experience was intense, it was also extremely validating and insightful. Through interaction with my mirror, I was able to fully experience my former wounded self—the self who made assumptions, who took things personally, who could not respect boundaries, and who did not love myself (even though I thought I did at the time!). My mirror enabled me to feel the effects of my former self from my newer, more healed self; I could feel my former self’s powerful desire to be loved and accepted along with my former loneliness, rejection, hopelessness, and general yuckiness when the object of my desire did not reciprocate. Overwhelming feelings of compassion for my former self and my mirror mixed with gratitude for the journey that has led me to a more healed state where love and acceptance do not need to come from outside of myself. I have now stood on both sides of this mirror: I have compassion for my former self and how I struggled inside myself to feel worthy of love, and at the same time I finally understand how and why my longing and desperate need for love pushed away the very person whose attention I craved. I finally know how it felt to be the target of my powerful needs. Because of this experience, I know without a doubt that I have significantly healed along my journey, and I know the kind of lover I wish to be in the future. While it is always a difficult situation when two people part ways, it is with gratitude that I wave goodbye to my mirror; he has been my most significant teacher, allowing me to come full circle to truly understand the journey I have undertaken.
So as you walk through life and come across people that make you react—in a positive or negative way—take a moment and consider: what is this person reflecting to me about myself? Looking into the mirror is a powerful way to learn and grow. Gratitude for the journey.