Yet another article on mirrors

mirror work parts work Jan 14, 2024

Mirror work as I have humbly come to understand it is simply seeing life as reflecting back to us parts of ourselves calling for our attention. As above, so below.  Now before I get into this I must first caveat; what I’m referring to isn’t so we come to blame ourselves for the problems happening in our lives, self-flagellating our way through. It’s to infact hold the key. It’s to realize that we are not victims either. That perhaps on some level we’re actually meeting a need in said situation we want to be different. 

Triggers or tor-mentors (what torments us, mentors us) is information guiding us back to ourselves. Coming to approach life situations this way can be one of the biggest acts of liberation, and I truly mean that, because you simply start seeing life as happening for you, not to you. Every happening that wakes something in you is showing you the way to yourself, if we learn to get curious about it. The immense power that comes in meeting all what we desperately want to be different as in fact a playing out of unconscious desires we have yet to own up to. A world of possibility becomes available. 

There are far too many areas of life I’d love to explore as I truly believe anything can be seen through that mirror lens, but I’m going to unpack four areas where I feel a lot of that inner turmoil comes to light. 

The relationship mirror

I already sense so much rising inside me as I put pen to paper on this specific one. A tape of all the ways I perhaps fell short on viewing my relationships this way. If only I did, perhaps things would have been different. That thought too in and of itself is yet another layer. Coming to terms with what needed to happen for one to wake up to their inner victim that is eager to shift blame outside of them. The one that is scared to take radical responsibility for the part they play in what goes wrong (and right) in the realm of partnership.

I’ll start off by saying that partners alongside family, coming next, are two places that offer the biggest portals into our own evolution. That often what goes wrong is hardly ever about the subject of our turmoil, a partner in this case. It’s almost always about all the ways we have yet to attune to all parts of ourselves. All the ways we weren’t privy to our own conditioned tendencies that come into light under the spotlight of relationship. Fear of abandonment or abandoning ourself, rejection, loss of freedom, commitment, validation, you name it that has us blame or fear honest communication. It’s also what has us act out in passive aggressive ways protecting the more vulnerable part underneath that is simply longing for connection but can’t yet come out and say it. 

The spotlight of relationships is one of truth that exposes our good and bad parts. In italics because I don’t fundamentally think there’s good and bad to us, only parts waiting to be met and integrated as worthy of our attention. It’s one of truth, and largely the truth is about ourselves that we’re not yet ready to meet. 

Seeing partnerships as mirrors can make the container of partnership a beautiful one to witness and subsequently engage in. A space filled with opportunity to meet ourselves deeper. The proverbial manual to our growth. An opportunity to tune in instead of tune out. Sometimes that requires leaving, but perhaps often and more profoundly means meeting each other in the face of the raw truths we’re discovering about ourselves. A dance of intimacy.  A continuous process of death and rebirth, to be born again with that same partner or outside.

When a pattern keeps repeating itself with one partner, or the same pattern with different partners, the solution rests in the problem itself. From there it’s really asking oneself what is this trying to tell me about me? 

It’s not to say people don’t do wrong by us and vice versa. Or that acknowledgement of wrongdoing isn't nice to have. It is, but only that. Seeking the acknowledgment without the deeper inquiry into ourselves in the face of that situation is missing the bigger opportunity at our feet. It’s really about how we orient to doing wrong vs. being wronged.

The last thing I’ll say is that while a lot of this mirror exploration can be an individual endeavor, much can only be worked through in the container of partnership. There’s only so much readiness one can cultivate/become privy to on their own. Perhaps on some subconscious level our yearning for a partner is really one of a yearning to meet ourselves.  


The family mirror 

Another caveat here: Family dynamics comes in all colors of the rainbow and while some might be arguably smoother than others, the intensity of one's perceived experience is just as valid irrespective of what we deem as pleasant or not. The other point here is that cultural context is largely at play when unpacking this specific area. The understanding of family and thus the attachment and wounding around it is one hell of a web to untangle when culture is layered in.

When we speak of our shaping stories, what made us develop some of the patterns, behaviors, and beliefs we run with, our parents take top rank in influencing those shaping stories. Consciously or unconsciously. From there we form much of our beliefs around love, relationships, conflict, trust, safety, sexuality, and so much more. Coming into our adult self is a process of reparenting ourselves to weave our own view of the world. 

I don’t know where I first learnt this concept, so definitely not mine to coin, but one that resonated with me deeply. I think in some universal order we often come to choose the parents we incarnate with because it serves the exact lesson we are here to learn. Even if our parents come in the most loving, accommodating, cool fabric form parents can possibly come in. There’s something there for us to learn, or least appreciate wholeheartedly.

This reframe had me turn my often 7 year old self trapped in an adult body that can till this day pout at my parents and their supposed wrongness, to see them as the greatest gift. That in  raising me to the best of their ability with what they know, and the conditioning they too carry, they also offered me the very lessons I needed to attend to. One of deep acceptance of their humanness, and thus everyone else. That my job isn’t to search for all the ways I am the way I am because of them, but all the ways I can show up whole and loving. It’s an opportunity to open instead of close. 

That in understanding what we might have perceived as missing growing up rests our deep wounding around love, success, money, nurturance, etc. It’s what has us seek the partners we do at first. Putting unrealistic pressure on them to meet those very wounds we have yet to attend to ourselves. Or has us settle or reenact patterns with our kids even if we think we’re doing the exact opposite. That the whole spiel on ‘childhood trauma’ is not so we have someone to blame, but to simply offer interesting information that guide us yet again back home to ourselves, all the while has us accept, forgive, and love our parents even deeper.

T&Cs: Easier said than done.

The Money Mirror

This is one of many layers with lots to unravel in the relationship we have with money. Safety, scarcity, validation, control, to name but a few. And while there’s a pragmatism one has to bring to the question of money as necessary and well needed, I find unpacking its shadows as a tricky one to peel. Namely because it's beyond one’s own conditioning around it, but that of fundamental cultural principles regurgitated infinitely. 

My financial literacy is relatively nascent and one I actually find joy in learning. Much is at play in that learning curve in and of itself. The narrative we can tell ourselves around our capacity to be literate. Perhaps the question here becomes literate for the sake of what? And in comparison to whom? And how much is enough? No pursuit is better than another. It’s really not a question of morality, but an opportunity to understand ourselves in that pursuit. 

The second and more mind-bending realization due to its level of counter-intuitiveness is the question of scarcity. The tight grip vs. the open hand. The former is an inquiry on one’s perspective on life’s abundance or lack of, the latter an inquiry into our honest intention with an open hand.

You probably heard of healing your relationship to money, and at the heart of that sits our primal needs around safety and security. Our ability to meet this fear. Really meet it, not coerce it into silence by ‘getting shit under control’, and thus ignoring what it’s saying is where that symbiotic relationship with money can start to form. We start to invite it from a place of safety vs. pursue it to feel safe. A reframe that paradoxically has an open hand positively correlated to more abundance.

Hint: It’s a relationship tightly correlated to love and your sexual/creative energy. A story for another time. 

The Food  Mirror 

I touch upon this briefly as I want to unpack this in a lot more depth at a later time, but the relationship to food is a mirror that goes beyond the connection it has to our emotional wellbeing. Without sounding dramatic, but I will so please allow it, it’s one that mirrors our way of life. How we eat, what we eat, the measures we use to ‘fix’ our relationship to food, all of it speaks to so much. This isn’t to say there has to be something to work through there, in any of the above mentioned areas either. It’s to say that when it becomes front of mind as a concern, then the way to go about it is one of telling a larger story than emotions and whether it’s kale or fries for dinner. 

There’s the obvious one of emotionality and food, and while that connection has much merit, it scratches the surface. The compassion we can hold in the face of realizing the coping mechanism we may have with is the question of what am I coping with? What need is being met with said coping mechanism? and how can we meet that need in a different way? What am I refusing to feel and in what way can I give the body the space to feel it.

Until we learn to do so, the measures we deploy to fix (even if they work) are after the symptom not the root cause. More than that, they come from a place of force that ultimately tells the body you don’t know what you’re doing, let me whip you into shape. The body always, always, knows what it’s doing and its always adapting for our best interest. Even when it is gaining weight or getting sick.

Another apparent mirror is the identity we seek in *insert food* protocol we pursue. The why behind it, and what message are we sending our bodies when we approach it with force and discipline? Even in the face of the altruistic reasoning around the planet or animals, what sits behind that?

I speak of food as one that still oscillates between deep conviction on some things, and full abandonment in some moments. Perhaps it's my aversion to rules in general, but also much deeper wounds at play. Yet one thing I feel deeply about is that the approach is not one of force but one of curiosity. One of slowing down to the entirety of the food experience, and the presence we can bring to every bite. 


A note on the beauty reflected 

Often dismissed when speaking of healing is the light and bright side. Enculturated to glorify suffering, beauty and lightness get sidetracked. The flipside of all this mirror talk is that when we do recognize goodness in something or someone, that’s also reflecting all the ways that goodness sits in us too. We discern the reflection as beautiful because that knowledge is inherent. We discern the humanness of another because we know how we can be that too. 


Closing thoughts

I bring up mirror work not to get so pedantic with life, but to get present with seeing what is, for what it is. It’s a practice and just like any practice becomes quite effortless with time, but one that offers with it non diminishing returns of deeper connections, especially to oneself.

The caution warning is that it requires one to take full responsibility over one’s own life. Oftentimes, that means owning up to what is preferably relegated to someone or something else to blame. Yet it’s in those very moments that we inch ever closer to alignment. 

I don’t think you ever get done with the process of inquiry. It’s simply answering life’s call to dance every time. Sometimes that is in partnership, on the family dinner table, with a meal, and sometimes that’s with yourself. In the quietness of being with your own body. The latter being the most confronting of them all.

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