Ok, a great moment of transparency here on my part. What I’m about to share is a little embarrassing but is so important and had such a big impact on my life that I have to share this with you.
Some of you may know that I was originally a student of Esateys and worked with her for over 10 years before the relationship even became a thought. She’s now my wife.
In the early years of her coaching me, Esateys (we call her E) helped me through some (ok a lot of) issues with my mother. She would always tell me when I was triggered or angry with my mother, to put my face on her body. Oh, did I hate that! In fact, most of the time, it made me even angrier. And I never really understood why.
I would go off on one thing or another about what “she did to me” or in most cases “what she didn’t do for me” and made myself a victim of the pain she caused me. It took a while (okay, a long time) for me to understand the mirroring principle and how much it was impacting my overall happiness.
Law of Mirroring
Simply put, the way we think (consciously or unconsciously) about things ourselves is ALWAYS reflected or projected out onto the way we see others. This is called the mirroring principle. At first blush, this may seem preposterous and not possible. “ Surely I’m not like the other person. I’m different…. I’m not like that… I didn’t do anything, she said….”
We project the things we do not like about ourselves, the things that we are ashamed of, or the inadequacies that we believe we have and are not ok with. Remember this can be conscious or unconscious.
If you remember anything from this writing remember this: If you are judging someone about something you are really judging yourself.
It’s insidious, it happens all the time and it is part of what Esateys calls the “human condition.” Don’t think you were excluded from this. Best to just accept this as a basic fact and when you have the awareness to confront yourself about this, don’t judge it, just accept it and say ”thanks for showing this to me.” (Nonresistance is a whole nother topic that we will talk about in the future.)
Now here’s how the mirroring principle works with relationships. In my view, it is the number 1 cause of relationship discord and personal unhappiness.
Think about this. Your partner or a family member does something that really pisses you off. The reason you are pissed off is that you internally interpreted what they did as wrong and you judge it. But the judgment came from how you feel about yourself, the raw nerve in you that was triggered.
A good way to catch yourself is to ask yourself if everyone else would be angered or triggered by the same action? You see, what triggers me will not necessarily trigger you. When you can see this, everything will shift for you in your relationships.
This brings us back to the initial subject of this writing, It’s Never About Your Partner, It’s Never About ‘Over There.” It’s Always About You.
You may think (or it may appear) that your partner or family member is doing something to you, but the real truth which I hope you can see now is that it’s not about what “they did,” it is about how you interpreted or reacted to what they did. To clarify even further, your interpretation or reaction is entirely fueled by the programs, beliefs, and experiences you had in your past. Everyone has them.
You may have heard the expression (which by the way I really did not like), that “someone else can never make you unhappy.” The real truth is, only you can make yourself unhappy (or happy).
I know this is a lot to throw at you, so I suggest you read this several times, perhaps at different sittings and contemplate how this works. I will guarantee you that once you can master this everything in your relationships and your happiness will shift automatically.
Next week we will explore how learning to become aware of what you are thinking, feeling or saying is the single biggest gift you can give to yourself and to the new budding relationship you always dreamed about.