“It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.” ― John Joseph Powell, The Secret of Staying in Love
The concept of “mirrors” has been addressed throughout my library of articles that I have written and the concept will continue on beyond that. When I first attended adult partial hospitalization (herein referred to as APH) I noticed something peculiar. I noticed that each man and woman in my group reflected a certain trait within myself. Having felt a tremendous deal of gratitude for what I was experiencing I had decided to share my observations to the group. I went around the circle thanking each person for the particular trait they mirrored within me. The room swelled with gratitude afterwards as they thanked me for my observations. Afterwards, when I had a meeting with the director of the program, I was applauded for my observations. The director stated that there was a specific biological function that was related to what I had described and that was the concept of “mirror neurons.” Thus the concept of mirroring another has both a physical and spiritual connotation.
Mirroring is an absolute necessity in growth, maturity, and healing. We spend so much time looking outside of ourselves that we often neglect changes that have occurred to us — changes that can only be seen when looking in the mirror. There are four areas in which we tend to find our mirrors — family, friends, coworkers, and lovers.
Family mirrors us in how we were raised. The woman who suddenly thinks she has become her mother is actually just noticing how much of her Self has been mirrored in her mother. What about bad habits that we have developed? When you lash out at others look at your family and see if they lashed out at you. I can absolutely attest to the fact that my mom and dad both approached discipline and emotional interaction from opposite points. Thus I mirrored my mother’s shying away from conflict and, when cornered, mirrored my dad’s lashing out. I was careful about looking in the mirror and ensuring that I would not continually carry those traits into my own adulthood and fatherhood. For the most part I was successful, but shades of those mirrors did reach my children whom have picked up those traits as well.
More importantly than family are the mirrors presented to us within our friends. These are the most important for a variety of reasons and it is here where I want to share very specific and personal anecdotes. I have always carried with me a certain degree of self-loathing and ignorance of my self-worth. This has been despite having the best of friends. The first time I came upon this concept was maybe a dozen years ago. I was unpracticed, but for a moment I realized that I could not have friends as awesome as I did without being awesome myself. I looked to one friend and saw how he was so tremendously loyal, giving, warm, supportive, and critically thinking. I recognized that I too carried those traits. Another friend was assertive, confident, charming, and piercing. Again I began to see those traits within myself. The last friend to note is important to mention for how our friendship ended. He and I were mirrors in our youthful vigor, hobbies, spirituality, and aspirations for the future. That friendship ended very badly when I chose not to support him on a decision I felt was very immature and destructive. It turned out we mirrored one another in another way as he lashed out in such a destructive way attacking my personality flaws, recruiting other friends and family into why I was not a good friend, and destroying any chance at ever recovering that friendship. It was a devastating experience and he and I have not been friends for approximately 5 years.
I believe that friendships end only after the mirrors begin to reflect only negativity or the mirrors no longer exist. My closest friend and I had had several intense moments between us. We dug deep into each other. I would overreact to things he had said and he would grow impatient with continued attempts to belittle his character. From an outsider’s perspective this is good cause to end a friendship. Why has this friendship remained for 26 years? It is because ultimately we saw ourselves in each other. Some may think he and I couldn’t be more different. Those who know us best know we are more alike than we seem. We have brought about both the best and the worst in one another. In so doing we grew closer and closer to perceiving our own beauty and sense of worth. In a way with our worth continually challenged by the other we had to start knowing intrinsically that our worth was high! Thus I feel that it is our closest friends who may do the most “damage”, but only because we are cutting away the infected tissue so that our very best can heal!
Deep fights with lovers occur for the same reasons they do with our closest friends. We get so close to one another that we see our own good and bad. When we do not recognize that we mirror one another we project those feelings onto the other. But rather than discuss how lovers may mirror and project the worst I would like to address the best. As the quote above indicates we cannot know our own beauty and worth until we have have seen it reflected back “in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.” We are often told that no one can make us happy or that we have to see the beauty in ourselves before we can see it in others. Those statements are only partial truths. Look to your spouse, girlfriend, or boyfriend. If you see all that is amazing in him then those are the very things that are amazing in you! Now try this. Without looking in a mirror tell yourself what you look like. Write down every detail of your face and where every hair is placed upon your head. You may think you can do it, but you will never be as accurate as when you look in the mirror. That is what our lover is for! She shows me who I am. I only live up to my full potential because when I look at her I see just how brilliant her light shines.
It is important to recognize the power of mirrors. Sometimes we sink into deep pits of self-loathing and we rely only upon ourselves for our worth. During those moments we see only darkness. Do not hide from your mirrors. They will reflect the best and the worst in you. Yet when you recognize that is what they are doing you realize that they are giving to you a gift — the gift of the opportunity too look at yourself and ask yourself, “What is it that I want to change about myself when I look in the mirror?” You are loved. Love yourself.