Mirror, Mirror on the Wall


“We mirror each other. We do it physically and psychologically. Someone gets pissy with you; you find your reaction typically is to return the “favor.”” – Lulu Salvegsen

How often do you find yourself mirroring someone’s feelings, actions, and beliefs? As an empath, it’s easy for me to pick up on other people’s emotions – good or bad. And when I talk to one of my relatives who lives in the South, you can bet my Texas twang comes out for a while.

What I really want to explore today is what happens when other people trigger us – usually a negative emotion. And we end up hurt, angry, frustrated, sad, or confused. It’s those times – when others trigger us – that we can actually learn the most about ourselves.

Let me give you an example. It was January of 2014. I had just turned 40, broken my heel for the second time in a year, gotten a divorce and moved into a new home when a friend of mine confronted me about my dirty little secret.

“You have an eating disorder,” he said.

“No,” I countered. “I study eating disorders; I don’t have one.” After all, by that point, I had been researching factors that cause body dissatisfaction and eating disorders in both men and women for nearly 20 years.

“That doesn’t mean you don’t have one,” he observed.

Over the course of the next week, I fought with him fiercely, and denied my problems. He made me mad. How dare he accuse me of having an eating disorder? He was the one obsessed with carbs, protein and fat intake. He was the one who couldn’t go a day without going to the gym. And he thought I had a problem?

You see where I’m going there, right? In that moment, he was my mirror. I didn’t want to see it; didn’t want to admit I had a problem because it hurt – to feel vulnerable, to be called out on something I was supposed to be an expert on. I felt like a fraud. I felt broken. But he was 100% right.

A week later, I finally gave in. I booked an appointment with a therapist. As I walked in the door, she said, “So, you have an eating disorder.”

“Yes,” I admitted. “Yes, I do.”

And that is when the healing process really began.

So what or who exactly is a mirror?

Sometimes it's easy for you to see your mirrors, but often times, it's not. Recognizing my mirrors and my triggers was a skill I had to learn. And sometimes I still get triggered and realize I'm having another “mirror moment.”

How do you know if you are having a mirror moment? Are you feeling hurt, angry, frustrated, confused, or any other sort of ‘negative’ feeling? Did it come upon you almost instantaneously with no warning? One minute you were fine, then something happened and the next minute, you were sobbing hysterically or seeing red? Yeah – that. One of those awkward, uncomfortable moments.

What if you let yourself feel and explore why you were feeling what you were feeling?

These moments may lead to little ahas or huge realizations about yourself. But you have to allow them to occur. You have to be willing to dive in and explore your feelings. Are you ready?

One Comment

  • Virginia says:

    Mary – this article is so true. It reminds me of the saying about what you do OR don’t like about someone is generally magnifying some trait or aspect of yourself.

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