relationships are mirrors

Relationships are mirrors of your internal state of mind

I haven’t always been a pleasant person. In fact, I used to struggle with how I treated others. It was the strangest thing. There were some people I hated instantly. And I wasn’t content to ignore them. If they spoke to me, I went out of my way to be rude to them.

It wasn’t something I was proud of doing. But I didn’t know how to stop.

Finally, when I was nineteen, I made a concentrated effort to figure out why I felt so strongly and acted so badly. If someone said something that upset me, I restrained the urge to respond and examined my feelings until I understood why I felt that way. I dug into any aversions I felt toward people and tried extra hard to be pleasant and get to know them better.

Relationships are mirrors of your internal struggles

upset young indian couple after conflict
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on

After a few months of examining how I related to other people, I discovered some shocking things about myself.

  1. My ego wouldn’t let me be wrong. If someone said something that contradicted my worldview, I chose to argue with them. This prevented me from hearing what they were saying.
  2. My self-loathing made it hard for me to see good qualities in myself or others. I classified people as being either ‘strong’ or ‘weak.’ It was shocking to discover that the ‘weak’ people were ones who happened to display traits I disliked in myself.
  3. I wasn’t as smart or cool as I thought. I was acting like a petulant child, punishing people for telling me the truth or having the gall to be a flawed human being.

Relationships are mirrors that point out opportunities for personal growth

Realizing all those things about myself was humbling. It hurt. But it was an invitation to grow.

I didn’t change overnight. But understanding how much my interior thoughts and feelings mirrored my exterior actions helped. It allowed me to pause and course-correct. Eventually, it led to increased compassion for others. And myself.

Relationships are mirrors of how you treat yourself

How you treat others is a reflection of how you feel about yourself. What I learned during my teenage experiment is that I was attracted to people who mirrored back what I felt were my best qualities. Anyone who dared display qualities I’d decided to devalue was shunned.

And all of this drama was a convenient way to make my problems someone else’s. Something was wrong with them, not me. And that made it easy for me to ignore the shadow work I needed to do.

Similarly, because I hadn’t learned how to accept the parts of me I wasn’t thrilled with, my appreciation for my strengths was tainted by the shame I felt for not being perfect. I could appreciate others for what they did, but when I did so, it evoked feelings of jealousy. I wanted what they had. Paradoxically, I couldn’t improve because I was spending all my time looking at others instead of examining myself.

Until I learned how to love all of me, I was incapable of loving all of anyone else. Unsurprisingly, my early relationships were as turbulent as my love-hate relationship with myself.

Creative challenge: Break the shame(ing) cycle and polish your mirror

  1. Be honest: how do you feel about yourself?
  2. Is there anything you feel shame around?
  3. Think about difficult relationships you have. Can you pinpoint what it is you don’t like about them?
  4. What do you notice? Are there parallels between how they act and what you dislike about yourself?
  5. How can you be more compassionate to yourself and others?

That’s your challenge. Let me know how it goes! Share your thoughts and experiences with me below or @trulykristi on other social channels. 🙂

Don’t miss a challenge! Become a creative alchemist and start getting unstuck.

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