The people in our lives, especially those closest to us, are our mirrors. Through the prism of their actions and our reactions, we view ourselves. Your spouse is kind because you have kindness in you. Your brother-in-law pushes your buttons when he is bossy because you attracted the lesson of learning to express your own feelings and not be trampled by someone else’s views. Each person in your life is here for a reason. Your daughter’s rebelliousness is an opportunity to test your own need to be in control. She is your mirror. The lesson is within you. The opportunity to grow is yours. Will you take it?
Generally your Spirit chooses a childhood that promotes the development of the challenges you are ready to face. As an example, if you have chosen the theme of learning to open up to love, then you may have parents who don’t display their love in an open manner. They may be reserved and closed hearted. If you want to learn more about being safe in the world, you may have experienced moments of being unsafe. Most of us learn our major lessons by first experiencing the opposite side of the equation, or who-we-are-not. The absence of love, say during childhood, is a necessary precursor to acknowledging later on in life the importance of love. The absence of safety allows an opportunity to acknowledge times when we do feel safe. Other common themes revolve around learning to speak your own truth, not looking to others for approval, and developing compassion.
The following exercise offers clues to the people—the mirrors—helping you to understand some of your major challenges.
Exercise: Our Most Important Mirrors
- In your journal or on a piece of paper, list the top five people who have had an impact on your life. Often we think of our parents, our siblings, and our life partners. You may find, however, that you also include others such as a mentor or your best friend.
- Next to each person on the list, write their top five positive and negative traits. Be as fair and unbiased as possible. For example, if one of your father’s positive traits is honesty, then that trait may have influenced your life in a very benefical way. On the other hand, your father’s impatience may have made you feel insecure and unheard. Maybe your mother’s positive trait of not caring what other people think allows you to understand how you might react in various circumstances. You will have ten traits for each person, five positive and five negative. This is not as easy as it sounds, so take your time.
- Look for common threads among the five people, and think about how those threads have impacted your life and the decisions you have made.
- Now, spend some time getting to the root of the “whys.” Consider why these particular people are such strong influencers and facilitators to your growth. For example, let’s say that a couple of your primary people possess the trait of being judgmental. As you examine the impact on your own life, you realize that the judgments they hold have caused you to spend an inordinate amount of energy trying to gain their approval. Your challenge may be to learn to look within for validation and not to be duly concerned with the thoughts and feelings of others. On the other hand, suppose you find that your older brother and your mother offer significant clues to some of your most intense inner-critic statements. Maybe your brother’s bullying led you to feel insecure and unsafe in the world. You also realize that while you admire your mother’s meek and mild manner, you also see that she was unable to express her needs fully and completely. You realize that put together, these two mirrors offer you a glimpse into why you are afraid to speak your mind. It could be that your challenge is to open up your fifth chakra (your voice/throat) and speak your truth, even in the face of opposition from others.
- In your journal, write about your observations.
The people in your life, especially close family members, allow you to experience certain emotional triggers in order to advance your learning around one of your life’s challenges. They are your mirrors, reflecting back to you aspects of yourself that you want to enhance or heal. The first step in healing is always awareness. That’s what you’ve just done with this exercise. The second step is intent. Stepping out of the drama and standing in the light of acceptance and understanding. The lesson is always within you. What do you choose?