Have you ever had the experience of seeing a stranger across the room at a workshop or a party and you instantly decide that you don’t like them? Or maybe you find yourself moving across the room to meet them or to ask them to be your practice partner in the workshop. People are great reflectors. They reflect back to us things we like about ourselves and things we do not like about ourselves.
In our lives we regularly encounter clients, friends, family members, or lovers that “push our buttons”. We might find them annoying, pushy, demanding, needy, or aggressive for example. Our tendency might be to become defensive, shut down or to avoid them. Or we might find ourselves bending over backwards to please them all the while judging and resenting them.
Did you know that those “button pushers” can become our deepest and best teachers? The mirror of relationship is an important tool for personal growth and transformation if we are willing to bring some consciousness into the relationship.
Let’s look at the mirror of relationship. I will briefly go over 4 mirrors.
The Clear Mirror:
This is someone you are attracted to, you move toward them. They are someone you like to be around. They are reflecting back to us aspects of ourselves that we like or admire, or parts of ourselves that are ready to bear fruit.
The Smoky Mirror:
This is where we are repelled by someone.They are reflecting back to us aspects of ourselves that we do not like, aspects that are shut down or laying dormant. They could be aspects we are in denial about or aspects that we wish we had.
The Split mirror:
This is a mix of smoky and clear. We like some aspects of the other person and there are aspects that we don’t like.
This is where someone is invisible to us. Nothing is reflected back. You might have been in a weekend workshop and at the closing circle you see someone that you did not notice all weekend.
Let’s look at Smoky Mirror since this is likely to be the one to grab the most attention. It usually brings up the strongest feelings.
The Smoky Mirror can get in the way of deepening a relationship because we are often on the defensive, busy criticizing ourselves or we are busy judging the other person. A sense of self-righteousness is often a clue that a smoky mirror is in action.
Look at a relationship in your life – your spouse, a challenging client, a sibling. A useful exercise is to inquire into a relationship that elicits a strong emotional charge – someone that “pushes your buttons”. Take a moment and write down all of the traits that bother you – annoying, pushy, rude, impatient, they don’t speak up for themselves, needy, complaining, manipulative, controlling, etc.
Now … ask yourself, “Do I possess any of these qualities?” If we are honest with ourselves, we will likely see that we also have exhibited these qualities of rudeness, impatience, etc at one time or another. These behaviors often emerge when we are under stress.
If you find yourself saying, “But I would never behave that way”, it is likely denial at work. We have probably behaved that way and feel embarrassed or ashamed and can’t quite admit it to ourselves.
When we can gently accept that we may at times be pushy, demanding, or needy, liberation is at hand. The more we accept ourselves – the negative and positive, the more authentic we can be. You will find more ease, grace and spontaneity in your life.
If we are willing to inquire into the nature of the relationship, we get to see that we have more in common than we have differences. And if we are gentle, accepting and forgiving of our “faults” then we can be kinder, compassionate and understanding in our relationships.
You may come to a point on your journey that you welcome the Smoky Mirror into your life. What an opportunity for self exploration! You will learn to recognize yourself in other people. You will be given opportunities to heal and come back to wholeness. Enjoy your Self!