“Oops! That’s actually mine.”
Being a therapist presents a unique opportunity to continuously see myself within my clients’ stories and take my own medicine.
It’s not about perfection – for any of us. It’s about that humble, humorous moment when you realize: I am looking at myself.
Every person we encounter presents a mirror to see ourselves more clearly, especially our closest relationships.
Pick a relationship and (without judgment or editing) write down every irritation or anxiety you’ve thought about that person.
A current or former romantic partner works terribly well, or you can use a parent, child, friend or even a stranger you just encountered.
They sleep so late; they’re lazy. They could be doing something meaningful!
They make excuses and eat all that junk. That’s so unattractive.
They aren’t pursuing anything with passion. They don’t have drive or confidence.
I’ve had all these thoughts at times, and guess what?
These are my own limiting beliefs, fears, and judgments about myself.
I get into a funk, turn on Netflix, and think: You are so lazy! You could be doing something meaningful.
I binge on nuts, cheese and Halo Top while I watch, and think: You have no control! You are so unattractive.
And the reason those funks crop up? I am avoiding a risk. I am afraid of failing and so kill the time I have to write or create with a movie to squirm away from my passion. And I think: You are nothing. You are a fraud. You couldn’t if you tried.
Those thoughts are uncomfortable to face in the sober light of day, but that’s all they are: thoughts. They only carry the meaning we ascribe to them. Humor helps.
Until we do the work of becoming aware, we project ourselves onto those around us without knowing.
Whenever I find myself judging another, I can always find the reflection inside myself in one form or another.
“We’re often quite sure about what other people need to do, how they should live, whom they should be with. We have 20/20 vision about other people, but not about ourselves…Eventually you come to see that everything outside you is a reflection of your own thinking. You are the storyteller, the projector of all stories, and the world is a projected image of your thoughts. Since the beginning of time, people have been trying to change the world so that they can be happy. This hasn’t ever worked because it approaches the problem backward…It’s like when there’s a piece of lint on a projector’s lens. We think there’s a flaw on the screen, and we try to change this person and that person, whomever the flaw appears to be on next. But it’s futile to try to change the projected images. Once we realize where the lint is, we can clear the lens itself.” – Byron Katie, Loving What Is
This is why real self-reflection is within the context of our relationships. It’s where the rubber meets the road.
Relationships are hard not because we must learn to accept others, but because we must learn to recognize and change ourselves.
Here’s to bravely looking in the mirrors!