First 30 Days Blog

08 feb

Harness the Power of Mirroring

KristinOfflierWhat’s your greatest fear? Maybe you can name it in a heartbeat. Maybe it takes you a second to think through all the things that could be considered your top fear. Either way, chances are whatever you named isn’t really your biggest, most consuming fear. It might actually be buried deeper than you realize, quietly rearing its head in your everyday life disguised as something else entirely.
If you’ve ever been frustrated with or judgmental toward another person, you’ve been given a glimpse into your biggest fears.

Hear me out.

When something about another person bothers us, like being afraid of looking or acting a certain way, we reject those characteristics and thus reject those people. This may sound like a highly conscious behavior, but it happens so subtly that you’ll think it’s the other person who is in the wrong.

Let me give you an example. Say you have a friend who is always mimicking others. Maybe she buys the same clothes as her friends, orders the same food at dinners out, and plans the same vacations. Maybe she frustrates you because it seems like she’s never thinking for herself or following her own path in life. That resentment grows over time, until you’re at a point where you can hardly stand to be around this person because every word she says starts to sound phony and insincere.

At first glance, you may be thinking that it’s your friend’s actions that are rubbing you the wrong way.

But let’s hold up a mirror to your friend and see what reflects back. What bothers you about this other person are actually the things that bother you about yourself!

In this hypothetical situation, if you listed every behavior, action or experience with your friend that upset you, I bet you could pull back the veil on each one and see how those are actually your personal fears.

Maybe you’re afraid of seeming like you can’t think for yourself, so that behavior in others irritates you. Maybe you were once accused of being phony, so now you reject that characteristic in other people because you’re terrified of looking that way yourself.
What you judge about other people are often things you don’t want to see in yourself. They’re the things that scare you on a deeper level than public speaking or death, but you’ll never really see them honestly until you mirror your feelings of others.

This technique is as simple as it sounds: hold up a metaphorical mirror every time you think something judgmental about another person.

“Oh, she looks so bad in those pants,” turns into, “I’m afraid of people thinking I don’t look good.”

“That person is so fat, why doesn’t he take care of himself?” is actually, “I am afraid of gaining weight and I wish I was healthier and fitter.”

“He thinks he knows everything,” becomes, “I’m afraid of being perceived as a know-it-all,” or even, “Deep down I’m terrified I don’t know anything at all and it’s obvious to everyone.”

There are countless ways to interpret your thoughts when you mirror them off other people. Only you can judge which interpretation is true to your life experience. Many of the things you think about other people are actually deep-rooted beliefs about yourself that were put there by family members, teachers, friends, and even yourself.

So how can you use mirroring to overcome your deepest fears or personal issues? Start by recognizing every judgmental, angry, or hostile thought you have about other people and ask yourself what that thought says about you. Don’t brush it off; chances are, the more likely you are to dismiss a negative thought about someone else, the more you should be turning that thought inward and examining yourself deeper.

Mirroring may sound silly, but give it a try and see if you don’t learn at least a few things about yourself in the process. Once you start recognizing your truest worries and fears, you can begin to change them. From there, your whole life will open up for you.

Kristin Offiler is a freelance writer in Rhode Island who writes for a site that helps students find the right psychology degree.

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Posted by Kristin Offiler on February 8th, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

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