Facing ourselves in the mirror can be tricky business. First, let’s talk about looking at our physical selves. We often spend a lot of time in front of a mirror trying to perfect our look – we fix our hair, our makeup, we lighten our teeth to a brighter shade of white, and yet, we often continue to be dissatisfied with the results. When cosmetics no longer work, then maybe we start thinking about plastic surgery. We get a nip here and a tuck there and emerge with a look that will hopefully satisfy the mirror on our wall and the one in our mind. Perhaps we are the type of person who avoids spending any time in front of a mirror because it is too difficult to face who we really are. Looking at the reflection may cause us to face our denial of reality. We can’t change what we don’t know, right? Which one do you identify with?
This week I had a view into a different type of mirror. This is a mirror that is held by another person but reflects something from within yourself. My first memorable experience with this type of mirror happened when my daughter was very young, around 4 years old. My husband and I were sitting on the couch when I became aware of some noises from behind the couch. The couch was positioned to divide the room so the back of it was not up against the wall. The sound being made was something like, “ch, ch” and she was repeating it over and over again. Eventually I became curious enough to look over the back of the couch to see what she was doing. She was holding her hand up to her mouth and squeezing her fingers together while making the sound. I knew immediately that she was copying me using my asthma inhaler. I was both humored and mortified all at once. It was like looking in a mirror and seeing my self as she saw me. It didn’t feel good to see that particular picture of myself. All my feelings about being unhealthy flooded through me. I hoped that my daughter would not come to believe that about me.
This week’s mirror came in the form of words that were spoken to me. On two separate occasions, two different people said something to me causing me to feel a pit in my stomach and a dip in my self-esteem. As I walked away from the second remark, I realized the reason I felt so bad after the comments was because they mirrored a belief I held within myself. It was painful to hear that internal belief spoken out loud. This is not the first time another person’s words have resonated with me. I am grateful to be able to recognize this resonation as a type of mirror. In the past, I would’ve felt devastated and sunk into a temporary, but satisfying, place of self-pity. Now, even though I may still feel the sting from looking in the mirror, I can recognize the feeling as coming from a place within me that is from my past and is untrue. I am thankful to the mirror for showing me what continues to hide inside. The only way I can change something is if I am aware of its presence.
My final example of a mirror is the one you look in when you are triggered or bothered by someone else’s actions. When that happens, ask yourself (and be honest here) is this person showing me a trait that I myself possess and do not like? This is a real scary mirror in which to look and admitting this truth is not for the feint of heart. None of us like to admit our negative traits, especially when we dislike seeing them in other people. With time, introspection, awareness, and honesty, we can learn more about ourselves and develop the courage to look in any mirror. With practice, we may even begin to like the image that reflects back.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall. Who is most wonderful after all?
Yours in transformation,