When we wonder why does my husband annoy me so much or how husbands should treat their wives, we’re often blind to the fact that what bothers us about our husband is a reflection of what bothers us about ourselves. This ability to use relationships to reflect on ourselves is usually referred to as finding the mirror in others. Mirrors aren’t only negative, they help us find the golden shadows as well as the dark shadows; what we love in others is also in us and what we dislike about others is in us as well.
What Are Psychological or Relationship Mirrors?
We use mirrors every day to look at ourselves and craft the appearance we want to have or to take care of ourselves.
People are ALSO our mirrors. We like others when they show us the ways that we are that we like about ourselves, and we dislike others when they show us the ways that we are or can be that we don’t like or have rejected about ourselves. They do this through their behavior, appearance, words, choices, etc.
But they also do this through the way they react to us…. Or more importantly, the way we react to them.
If you react strongly to someone else, judge them, disapprove of them, or feel frustrated by them, it’s likely that they’re showing you a way you are being in the world that you don’t like.
It’s not always an exact mirror image; for example, when we judge our spouse for not taking our financial health seriously, it could mean that we also aren’t responsible with money but it could just as easily mean that we have always been in control of bringing in an income and have never expressed a desire to be dependent on our partner in that way. We may always be givers and balk at the idea of receiving help and being cared for instead of the carer.
Therefore whenever we don’t just absolutely love someone, we can use that interaction as our own mirror, to look at ourselves and craft the appearance we want to have or take care of ourselves.
Mirrors Can Also Show Us Things About Ourselves We’ve Rejected or Forgotten
Likewise, if there’s an intense longing for someone, if you are very attracted to someone, or if there’s someone from your past you love, there’s something about them that’s also in you that you wish to bring forth. Maybe they’re funny, good-looking, or active. Maybe they’re really good at showing others they care. See how this is also in you and cultivate it. There’s nothing out there that’s not already in here
Gregg Braden has a video where he talks about the seven mirrors or the seven ways people reflect ourselves for us. According to Gregg in his book Walking Between the Worlds: The Science of Compassion, the seven mirrors are:
- Who we are in the moment (our current energetic state)
- What we judge (this is an emotional pattern)
- What has been lost, taken, or given away from us (something our essential self loves and misses)
- Our forgotten love or unfinished relations (our areas of scarcity that we try to fill with something else/addictive behaviors)
- Our mother and father (can hold feelings of love and security as well as old thorns and limiting beliefs)
- Our own quest for darkness (our greatest challenges, biggest fears, and deepest thorns)
- The way in which we see ourselves (does what I see make me happy or unhappy)
“The people in your life don’t represent just one mirror each. The mirroring is constantly shifting according to what is going on inside you. At any given moment, a person in your life can be any one of the seven mirrors. And the more time you spend with someone, the more likely it is that you will see all seven reflections of yourself in him or her. This, I believe, is part of what makes your partner your greatest teacher.” – Dr. Laura Berman, Quantum Love
Carl Jung talked about the shadow and Charles Horton Cooley talked about the “looking-glass self”, the sociological perspective on using others as mirrors:
The looking-glass self describes the process wherein individuals base their sense of self on how they believe others view them. Using social interaction as a type of “mirror,” people use the judgments they receive from others to measure their own worth, values, and behavior. According to Self, Symbols, & Society, Cooley’s theory is notable because it suggests that self-concept is built not in solitude, but rather within social settings. In this way, society and individuals are not separate, but rather two complementary aspects of the same phenomenon.
So, Everyone is Reflecting Some Aspect of Me?
Yes! This is why every relationship is an opportunity to grow in self-awareness, better understand ourselves, and work toward self-mastery. This is why the work that I do is about more than just the marriage or relationship itself: it’s about YOUR ability to create the relationships you WANT because of your superior understanding of who you are and the way you interact with the world.