The essential nature of the universe is the coexistence of opposites. You cannot be virtuous if you do not have the capacity for evil. You cannot be wise if you do not have an inner fool. And you cannot be generous if you do not have a stingy person inside you. In fact, the most enlightened people are those who accept their own ambiguity and full potential for light and dark. As the Vedic seers observed, “The measure of your enlightenment is your level of comfort with your own paradoxes.”
Everyone we see in the world is a reflection of ourselves, and the traits we see most clearly in others are the ones that are strongest in ourselves. This is called the mirror of relationship and it is a powerful tool for emotional freedom.
When we have a strong negative reaction to someone, they are likely reflecting traits that we also possess but have been unwilling to embrace. We spend so much time denying that we have a dark side, and then end up projecting these denied qualities onto other people. For the same reason, we are attracted to certain people because they have the same positive traits that we have, only more so.
The sooner you can recognize yourself in this mirror of relationship, the easier it will be to quell negative reactions to other people. Embrace the coexistence of opposites with this exercise.
3-Step Journaling Exercise: The Mirror
Step 1: Think about someone you find attractive. On the left side of a piece of paper, list 10 or more qualities that you love in that person. Write quickly. The secret is to not give your conscious mind time to edit your thoughts. You can put down as many qualities as you wish, but don’t stop until you have at least 10.
Step 2: Now focus on somebody who irritates you, annoys you, or makes you uncomfortable in some way. Why does this person infuriate you so much? On the right side of the paper, list 10 or more, of their undesirable qualities.
Step 3: Look at your list for the person you find attractive and circle the three qualities that you find most appealing about him or her. Then look at the list on the right side of the paper and circle the three qualities you find most repulsive. Now read the six words you circled out loud. You too, possess these qualities.
Once you see yourself in others, you will find it much easier to connect with them, which ultimately helps to maintain your own emotional well-being.