“I’ve learned that those who dislike what they see in others,
is a reflection of something they dislike about themselves” -unknown
One of the most important concepts I try to teach, as well as apply to my own life, is the idea that every relationship is a mirror that reflects our inner-most thoughts and feelings about ourselves. In other words, when we are struggling with a relationship and focused on blaming the other person for creating the problems in the relationship, we are missing an opportunity to learn about ourselves. For example, if we are angry at another person for not considering our feelings, then we should pay attention to whether we have been taking care of our own needs and feelings. Or, if we experience rejection or abandonment frequently in our relationships, then we ought to pay attention to how we may abandon or leave ourselves
when relating to another person in a relationship.
Another important mirroring concept that helps us create the life we want, is to pay attention to the fact that our very best teachers are the ones that trigger us or about whom we feel intense emotions. For example, when a client discusses frustrations about their mother not respecting their boundaries, it becomes clear that this client has never created healthy boundaries in the first place. When we have ingrained patterns with certain relationships, and we expect the other to change when we are the one wanting the change, we forget that we are the one who teaches others how to treat us. We play the “victim role,” and give our power away by staying stuck in the belief that “if only the other people in my life would change, then everything would be so much better.” Therefore, the only way that a relationship will move in a healthier direction or end due to it’s unhealthiness, is if you look at your own behaviors and learn to react differently to promote that change.
Making changes is not easy, but some of the following are tools to create healthy change:
1) Be clear with yourself about how you would want that relationship to look if it were to truly reflect the type of relationship you know is healthy for you.
2) Ask yourself whether you feel you deserve to be treated the way you want to be. If the answer is no, you need to do some healing work and self-esteem building. Otherwise you will continue to teach people it’s okay to mistreat you because you don’t believe you deserve any better (refer to first paragraph).
3) Change your script — get yourself out of the same unhealthy role you have cast yourself in or that other’s have cast you in by saying “no” when saying “yes” is not healthy for you. Also, learn to be okay with other’s not approving of your choices or being angry at you because you aren’t responding in the same way they are used to.
4) Remember to live by the motto that It’s God/Source first (if you believe in a creator), then self, then others. I often remind my clients of the flight safety rule: you need to put your oxygen mask on first before putting it on someone else.
As you become more aware of applying this concept, you will get better at realizing just how much control you have to make the changes you want to make to reflect the life you want to live. Disempowering yourself by focusing on the changes you want other’s to make only perpetuates the victim cycle, and gets us off of the hook of looking at ourselves in the mirror and accepting our own flaws and shortcomings. Putting the focus on the other’s actions also keeps us in the insanity loop because it prevents us from seeing how we are often projecting our own issues onto the other person. So, next time you are triggered by another person’s behavior, dig deeper and ask yourself, “what in me still needs healing that I allowed
that person to steal my peace?” Or as the title of the recent bestselling book by Mike Bechtle aptly puts it, “People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them the Keys.”