The Mirror of Relationships
Let’s explore how our partners – or anyone we have a relationship with – is a mirror for unresolved challenges and pain in our lives. Our significant others, or potential significant others, most often play this role and yet, the truth is, anyone we interact with is a mirror for us. Besides our beloved, it could be a date, a co-worker, our parents, our kids, the neighbor, even a grocery store clerk.
So what do I mean by a “mirror”? In its simplest explanation… what we see in another – whether we like that quality or detest it – is a reflection of something within us. We could not recognize the quality in another if we did not know it in ourselves.
Now… that’s easy to swallow when we are talking about qualities like generosity, kindness, wisdom, abundance, happiness and the like. We might feel good looking at another and seeing them joy-filled and thinking, “wow… because I can see joy in them, it’s in me too!” That feels good.
It gets a little more challenging when we look at qualities like laziness, anger, protectiveness or distance, jealously, frustration, even hate. When was the last time you looked at your significant other and judged them as somehow less than – lazy, incompetent, inconsiderate, rude, disconnected? What else have you said about them? If you’re having trouble thinking of something, think about the things that frustrate you most about your beloved.
Here’s the key for you… Whatever it is that you judge in another person that upsets you – makes you angry, sad, hurt, frustrated, annoyed – shows up in some way within you. Now, it might be that you don’t like the characteristic in yourself that you are judging in the other person. Or it might be that you don’t ever allow yourself to do what the other person is doing and therefore when they do, you become upset.
Let’s look at this more closely… I’ll share a couple of examples from my life. There have been times when I’ve gotten upset with a boyfriend or a friend who asks for what they need or want. Now that sounds silly, because of course part of me wanted them to have what they needed and wanted… and another part of me was pissed off because they had the audacity to ask me for something like a backrub! I would never ask for that! Or at least that’s what I used to think and how I used to behave. I would absolutely never ask for what I needed because I felt I was being weak or needy, so when someone close to me asked for something they wanted, a button in me got pushed and I got angry.
Reflection: My lover asking for what he needs makes me angry and ….
reflects the belief inside me that it’s not ok to ask for what I need.
Another example is that I have called many men in my life lazy. What I eventually realized, similar to the above example, is that I didn’t allow myself to be lazy – my belief was that being lazy was completely unacceptable. Oh… how many wonderful Sunday afternoon naps did I miss because being lazy was wrong.
Reflection: When men take naps or watch TV I judge them as lazy…
Which reflects the belief in me that lazy is wrong and I’m not allowed to be lazy.
Finally, one last example… How many times have you said to your spouse or boy/girlfriend… You never ABC for me – where ABC could be “tell me I’m beautiful or sexy” or “spend time with me” or “cut me some slack” or any other thing you’d like your partner to do for you. In this example the reflection arises when you ask yourself, “When was the last time I did ABC for myself?” So often we won’t give ourselves permission or time to do something and then we get upset because our partner doesn’t do that exact same thing for us.
Several years ago I was sitting in a restaurant with my boyfriend on a Sunday evening and I was internally complaining that he – again – didn’t do anything “nice” or “sweet” for me all weekend. Then some part of my consciousness responded… “Well, what did you do sweet or nice for yourself this weekend?” “Nothing,” was my response. Then I heard in my inner voice say, “How can you ask him to do what you are not willing to do for yourself?” Hmmm…. I was bummed but I saw the truth of what my inner wisdom was saying. My judgement of his inaction was a reflection of my own inaction.
Reflection: When I’m upset that someone hasn’t done something for me…
It often reflects what I haven’t done for me.
So how do you find these reflections between you and your partner or anyone else who upsets you in life?
Start by noticing when you get upset and try to get clear about what is making you upset. Then see if that thing is something that you are not at peace with about yourself or within your own life. Alternatively, if that seems challenging, we invite you to schedule a private session. Plan for at least 60 minutes.
What is being reflected to you?
*At Ecstatic Intimacy, an all-inclusive website for singles and couples, we welcome all sexual orientation(s), gender(s) and relationship expressions. In this article we utilize the pronouns he/she/him/her.