Have you ever been so committed to an idea or issue or movement that you have a hard time seeing any point of view but your own? I have, and am right now. I want a particular person to be included at a big event next week because I believe he has something important to contribute. I believe this so much that I’m finding it almost impossible to hear the view of any nay sayers.
How could these people not see what I see? … It’s so obvious! … I say to myself.
Then at some point I realize that I’ve done nothing but talk to myself, even if I talked to the others who I’m convinced won’t agree with me. Why? Because I’ve filtered what they’re saying and hear only what agrees with my foregone conclusions.
I miss the chance to really hear what they’re saying. It might be that they believe there’s simply no room for an extra person; or that if this person comes then so should their friend. It might even be that they agree with me. Or that I caught them on a day their dog got lost.
Not missing what is on their minds means I can allow their concerns to register, mirroring back to them what they’re saying, and offering them a chance, in turn, to mirror my concerns back to me.
Confrontation can happen in one of two ways: either to win over the other person, or to take the conversation to a new level. The first is like a one-way mirror; the secnd like a window into each other’s soul.
From Martha Beck: Don’t be the light. Be the window.
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Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist. To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .
We all remember those special times when we connected beautifully with someone, even for a brief moment. When a kind stranger helped us as a child, perhaps, or when we met the person we eventually married; when we had the good fortune to be in the right place at the right time to connect with someone we truly admire. Those are moments in time that define us, and they are probably as fresh now as when they happened. They helped to shape who we are today; we remember those times with fondness and often, gratitude.
There are smaller, less significant, yet equally important events that happen daily, that we might not notice as much. Like when someone lets us in in heavy traffic, or holds the door open for us at closing time, or even gives us a little extra when we go out for lunch. They are all genuine acts of kindness, where nothing is expected from us in return. Most if not all of us feel a lift when that happens, and often end up returning that random act of kindness by “paying it forward” to another person we meet.
These instances give us mirrors into our own souls; they are all moments when someone said “I see you”, and reflect back to us through their eyes what we are giving them.
Then there are other kinds of mirrors we like less; those that can be opportunities for growth. These can be instances when we are triggered by someone – someone who reminds us of others or other past instances that still make us angry, judgmental, embarrassed, protective – and produces in us a compulsion to armor and defend ourselves. These are the interesting ones because they are the hardest to deal with. They also bring with them the potential for greatest spiritual growth.
Life will always provide these mirrors, and they will keep returning in our lives until we do deal with them. Here’s a personal example: I have a teacher, who I admire and who also is very demanding. At times when I’m not prepared, she will comment on something she’s noticed that she thinks I need to look at, and at times I find myself triggered into anger. My inner dialogue sounds something like this: She’s judging me again! She doesn’t seem to understand I’ve done this before and don’t need this kind of thing. I feel completely unseen by her! I wish she’d see me and stop judging me!
Byron Katie talks about this kind of mirror in her book Loving What Is. In fact, the entire book is about turning these times around where we find ourselves defensive and judging others. She calls this process The Work. This isn’t the place to go into how it works; I simply want to demonstrate what I learned about myself when I applied it to the above.
I first asked myself if “She’s judging me again” was true. On the surface, with no inquiry on my part, it seemed true; there was a certain comfort for me in thinking it was true. But actually I had no idea whether or not it was true. In one sense it was true; after all she is my teacher and it’s her job to judge me. In another sense – in the sense that she was triggering me – I had no idea. Then I asked: how do I react when I believe it’s true? How I react is with anger. On the other hand, who would I be without thinking she was judging me personally? The answer: I’d be fine, and able to take in her comments without rancor. Finally, what happens when I turn this statement around? For instance, “I’m judging her again”, or ”I’m judging me again”, or even “She isn’t judging me again” – are these at least as true as the initial statement? In this case, the first two turnaround statements are definitely true, and give me the mirror I need to see – that it’s me who’s judging personally – both me and her. The last statement, if true, would be devastating; after all, if she isn’t judging me, what is our relationship really about?
What I’ve just demonstrated is a very simplified version of what Katie goes through in her book. It’s a powerful tool that helps us see the reflection that someone else is ultimately gifting us.
The point? Every moment that impacts us is a mirror moment, a moment when the universe is giving us a reflection of ourselves. Without these moments, we’d never grow and learn. And life would be a lot less interesting.
Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions. In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.
This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.
Byron Katie – The Work Explained
Quote of the Week If you want to find the real competition, just look in the mirror. After awhile you’ll see your rivals scrambling for second place. ― Criss Jami, Killosophy