Your view of yourself is greatly influenced by the way others mirrored your thoughts, feelings and actions back to you
This is part 3 of Pursuing Healthy Relationships…with God, Ourselves and Others. Last week I shared that in order to have healthy relationships, you need to have a compassionate relationship with yourself. This begins by having a strong sense of yourself. Your sense of self is influenced by how others reflect back to you who you are.
When we are young, others reflect back to us who we are as they comment on what we think, feel and do. There are many types of mirrors that give us feedback about who we are. These mirrors give us input on our character, intentions and motivations. It really matters how accurate these mirrors were. If you missed this post, no problem, you can read it here.
There are 7 kinds of mirrors that tell us who we are:
~ Like the ones at campgrounds. You know the ones, they aren’t coated with materials to give you an accurate view of yourself. Instead they are made of metal, and give you a vague sense of your reflection. You can see the shape of your face, and where to comb your hair, but that’s about it. Who we are is often refelcted by a vague mirror. The effect of this type of mirroring causes you feel ignored, missed and unknown. You have a vague sense of yourself, but don’t really know who you are because you never had anyone accurately reflect who you are.
~ Like the ones at the circus. They reflect your real image in distorted ways. You know what I mean. They distort you, either making you too fat, too thin (I like that one), too tall, too short, or distorted in other ways. They reflect back to you who you are not. The effect of this mirroring may cause you to be confused and have an inaccurate view of yourself.
~ Like the kind we use to see something up close. Growing up with a magnifying mirror happens when a family is enmeshed. Everything matters and is commented on and reacted to. The effect of this type of mirroring causes you to notice and judge everything in yourself and others. There is not enough space to “just be.”
~ Like a mirror that is very far away. You can kind of see your reflection, but just barely. Technically there is a mirror, but it doesn’t do you much good. These type of mirrors happen in families that are disconnected emotionally and/or physically, or are just too busy handling life. The effect of this type of mirroring causes you to feel abandoned, invisable and on your own.
Mirror with a Picture
~ This is a mirror that already has a reflection on it, either of who you are believed to be “just like”, or who you are supposed to be. Those who see you through this mirror say things like, “you’re just like your father”, or “yes you like to cook”. The commonality is that you are seen through a filter. Information contrary to this picture of you either doesn’t register or is discarded.
~ Like a cracked mirror with sharp edges. These mirrors cause you harm through emotional, physical, sexual or spiritual abuse. Besides giving you a distorted view of yourself, they also cause deep harm to your self-esteem and inner being. These experiences and reflections change the fabric of what you believe about yourself
Mostly Accurate Mirrors
~ These kind of mirrors reflect back to you in mostly accurate ways who you are, what you like, as well as your positives and negatives. No mirror is perfect, and no reflection is completely accurate. There are still times of being seen inaccurately. One who is seen with a mostly accurate mirror feels known, loved, imperfect and valued.
Accurate and Reparative Mirrors
~ Like the ones God gives us in the Bible. Through verses and stories, God gives us accurate views of how He sees, values, loves and forgives us. We need to look in these mirrors regularly to heal from the inaccurate mirrors that have reflected us in the past, as well as in the present.
2 Corinthians 3: 12; 16-18
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known…
but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
Questions to Ponder:
~ Who have been the mirrors in your life?
~ What have they told you about…
Your worth and value?
Your personal power to have and accomplish goals?
Your attractiveness / desirability?
Your right or ability to have your own desires and wants?
~ Who were/are other mirrors that challenge any negative views of yourself (teachers, friends, coach, pastor, grandparents, neighbors)?
~ What are the positive messages you’ve been given, that challenge negative beliefs about yourself?
Ask God to show you the truth of who you are, and how you can see yourself through the mirror of His Love for you. Ask Him to help you absorb the positive reflections you’ve been given by yourself and others.
I’d love to get your input! Please leave your comments below, and share via e-mail or social media with those who could benefit.