When we think of a mirror as “a reflection of the self,” most of us will immediately conjure up visuals of silvered glass and our own faces. The mirror on the wall can tell you how you look on the outside. But to find out how you truly appear to others, to see what you reflect to the world as a whole… look into your relationships for that mirror.
Each of our many connections to others offers us a deeper understanding of our true essence. Each relationship – professional, family, love, friendship – can show us a different truth about ourselves, revealing different aspects of who we are and how we appear to others. Pay attention to your reactions to others, as well as the depth of emotion – love, hate, joy and frustration – that these relationships bring about and mirror. It’s in the mirror of relationships that we discover our weaknesses – and our strengths.
If you ask your mirror the questions, “What are my best attributes?” or “What are my flaws?” there’s a limitation to the accuracy of your reflection. After all it’s just you – evaluating you. But, if you take the same approach and incorporate relationships into your evaluation, patterns will emerge – and the picture is likely to become much more complete.
Ask yourself who you are in the relationship. What qualities do you bring to it? What is it about you that helps to make the bond between you two work? What things about you might weaken the structure of this connection? The relationship mirror can bring clarity to who we are, and it also illuminates our personal challenges in those areas that can ultimately benefit from greater acceptance – or change.
The relationships that help you grow aren’t always the relationships you stay in. Looking back on the good and bad of past relationships can help illuminate how much you’ve changed. Think back to your closest or most significant relationships, and your personal evolution through them. What connected you? What qualities did you share? Who were you after the relationship had run its course?
People who have a pattern of involving themselves in controlling relationships, for instance, tend to unconsciously express a need to learn how to take control. Likewise, those who find themselves constantly aligning themselves with a more easygoing personality may need to learn how to relax and “go with the flow.” Most of the “rescuers” out there are dying to be rescued – but haven’t figured out how to ask for help. People who are too afraid to give love a chance are usually struggling to love themselves.
We all have a blend of these traits and characteristics, not to mention many others. By evaluating our relationships we can see where we are on our developmental paths.
The law of attraction
We attract whatever we project, particularly in the area of relationships. The fact that “opposites attract” does not negate the previous statement – it just means that we may be able to learn more from this person and this relationship, should we feel the inclination. Ultimately, we may not always attract what we want, but we do attract what we need. What needs are you meeting – or not meeting – in your relationships?
Read the reflection
Think about those you love, and what it is you love about them. Pay attention to any similarities these people share. Are they qualities that you possess, or are they qualities you long to have? Now, think about the less-than-wonderful characteristics of the same people, and the impact these traits have on the relationship. Look for any similarities that appear, and how those traits affect you.
Keep in mind that this isn’t an exercise to improve those around you – it is an attempt to know yourself better. And sometimes this exercise in understanding starts a chain reaction of betterment that touches those you love. After all, you are also their reflection – in some way.
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