This Is What I Learned When I Saw My Reflection
I have spent the last few years taking the time to really get to know myself. Understand and build a relationship with myself. And I can honestly say that I think I am pretty amazing. I have come such a long way. But I have also realized that the only way to actually see ourselves clearly is through our interactions with other people. It is not until we feel vulnerable, fearful, or even annoyed that we see the parts of ourselves that still need healing.
Last July, I returned from a ten month solo journey abroad feeling more confident and at peace than ever. I was a changed woman in so many ways. I was more mindful, more aware of my thoughts, better able to control them, and really felt at peace inside.
So naturally, the first thing I do when I get home is speak to the Universe. I say, “Universe, as you can see, I am putting in all the work, becoming the most amazing woman I can be. I am ready to share my wonderful self with another person. Please send me a loving, secure, and healthy relationship.”
So the Universe brings a man into my life and we get into a relationship. Our relationships with other people throw us into a world of uncertainty. A lovely place where egos are hurt and insecurities are immediately brought to the surface. And this is exactly what happened.
THE OTHER PERSON IS YOU. WATCHING YOU.
You have probably heard the saying, “the other person is a mirror.” Which, I had always understood to mean that what was annoying me about someone else is actually what I really didn’t like about myself. It wasn’t until this relationship that I understood the true meaning of this saying. I now understand this to mean that when you are interacting with another person, if you really want to see yourself clearly, pretend they are a mirror and take a look at yourself. Look at how you are feeling and the way you are reacting to them.
This relationship brought out the worst sides of me. In that mirror, I saw someone who was anxious. Jealous. Insecure. Pretty much the opposite of everything I had worked so hard to become.
Since I was now pretty self aware, this part of the journey was incredibly hard for me to watch. I felt like I had made no progress at all and was extremely hard on myself because of this. Wasn’t I supposed to have it all together now?
I think it would have been easy for me to be like, this isn’t me. I am not being myself. I am usually so chill and full of love. He is triggering me to become someone I am not. It is all his fault. But because of all of the self reflection I did, I was able to see the part I played in this. Even if he did do something to trigger me, was I happy with the way I reacted in certain situations? Absolutely not.
Everyone in your life reflects some aspect of you. When we want to change someone, what we really want to change is how we are feeling at the moment when we are around them. We think we want to change them but what we really want to change is our reflection.
WE FEEL BECAUSE WE FEEL. NOT BECAUSE SOMEONE MAKES US FEEL.
We are so quick to react to how others “make” us feel. We push them away, write them off, or simply blame them for our behavior. Whether they are good for our lives or not, what we don’t focus on enough is the part we play in these interactions. How we react to others when we feel uncomfortable. What behaviors or feelings arise that may provide us with an even deeper look into who we are at that moment.
I asked the Universe for a healthy relationship, so first it brought to the surface all of the barriers that were keeping me from having it. I was uncomfortable with uncertainty. I was anxious in relationships. I had problems trusting people. Basically everything that had been keeping me from having a serious relationship in the past, was being forced out for me to deal with. If I would have blamed him instead of taking responsibility, we wouldn’t be as happy as we are together right now.
PLEASE WAKE ME UP.
This doesn’t only happy in our special love relationships. Watch your interaction with a rude person you encounter on the street. With your friends. Even better, watch how you react when someone you care about does something to hurt you. Often the best way to really see ourselves is through our interactions with those closest to us, where we are most comfortable. Our families.
Growing up, it was hard for my sister to wake up for school on time. Because of that, she would leave notes for my dad. They would say something like “Dad – Please wake me up for school at 6:50 am. Thank you so much! I love you!” So every morning at 6:50 on the dot, I would hear my dad knock on her door. “Gooooood morning! Rise and shine! Time to get up for school!”
And every morning like clockwork, I would hear my sister scream, “Go away! I am f’ing awake! Leave me alone!!!” Ten minutes later he would knock again because she fell back asleep. I would then see her grumpily open her bedroom door and walk past my dad saying something under her breath like, “Ugh, you are so annoying!” And then later that evening, I would laugh as I see her tiptoe up to leave him another note to please wake her up again the next day.
This might not be the exact situation with you, but I think we are all guilty of it in some way or another, right? There is someone in our family that we love but they just have the ability to urk us faster than anyone else. Because they always think they are right. They are so stubborn. They are so moody and sensitive. Or they always have to tell us what to do and it has to be done right this second. Ughh we get it!
But what if these interactions aren’t about the other person? What if they are here to show us something about ourselves?
EMOTIONS ARE DATA. THEY ARE NOT DIRECTIVES.
We learn more about ourselves through our interactions with others. The way we communicate can teach us about our self esteem. About our judgements of others. These interactions can give us opportunities to practice becoming more of something we are not.
Do you want to be more patient? Well that is easy to do when nothing is stressing you out. How about when someone around you is hard to deal with? When you are running late and someone is talking your ear off. Are you able to stay patient then? How about when someone is waking you up and all you want to do is sleep?
Our emotions, especially ones triggered by other people, show us where we are stuck. They are data we can use to not just grow in our relationships, but to grow even more as individuals. You can learn so much about yourself when you watch how you act around other people.
Watch your reactions but more importantly, the feelings beneath them. How are they triggered. Why are they triggered. And how you handle them. Watch how you react in certain situations. How you act when you are scared or jealous or upset. Are you letting your emotions dictate your actions or simply recognizing that you are feeling them? Are you acting this way because they are triggering something from your past?
I think it is important to ask yourself if the experiences you are having are changing you. If they are adding to and enriching your life. Or are they keeping you stuck?
EVERY INTERACTION IS AN OPPORTUNITY
I am not saying the other person is never to blame for making us angry. There are plenty of times in our lives when people are rude to us and we should stick up for ourselves. But there are ways to stick up for yourself without being a dick. And when you come from a place of love, you can react more proactively.
When you are happy with who you are, you are able to have a more clear view of other people. A major part of self growth is taking responsibility for your own actions. When others “make” you feel uncomfortable, try to figure out why you feel that way. The more love you can give yourself during this process, the more clearly you will be able to see.
Our relationships with others give us the opportunity to put into practice everything we have learned and grow into even more loving human beings. Today, make it a point to be conscious of each interaction you have with another person. Friend or stranger. Be present. Look into their eyes. See your reflection. Recognize what feelings arise as you connect with them. Acknowledge those feelings. And regardless of what they are, react from a place of love.
If you choose to see yourself through the eyes of others you can make serious developments in self improvement. Loving who you are alone is beautiful. But I think the real opportunity to grow is when we can objectively see our reflection in the eyes of everyone sent into our lives.