April 14–Nature: The Mirror

“It’s not my nature to yell!” I found myself saying to another person.  The tenor and volume of my voice probably qualified very nearly for yelling.  I was, if I’m being honest, angry about being yelled at–or at least feeling like I had been yelled at.

I don’t like yelling, and I don’t like to be around people who yell, and that’s been true all of my life.  So, when I feel like I’m being yelled at . . . almost without any consciousness at all, I rise to the level of–yep, you might guess–yelling.  Some part of me still would rather pretend that I don’t get angry–until the emotional dam bursts and it comes flooding out.  I hate admitting that about myself.  As a result, it’s much easier to see yelling and uncontrolled anger as a character flaw in others.

Have you ever noticed that we have a tendency in ourselves as human beings to notice in others those things that we least like in ourselves?  Studies in human nature over decades have in one way or another observed this “mirror” we seem to carry around in us.  Tell me what traits you find most difficult to withstand in other people, and you will have also told me much about yourself.  My list would reveal as much about me.  It’s the mirror.  That implies, of course, that we are each capable of making that list and showing it to ourselves–even taping it to a mirror in our bathrooms or bedrooms where we could face it each day and ponder how we defer dealing with our own troubling personal traits by seeing them, judging them and rejecting them in others.

Should we decide to take this on as a personal practice, we might need a little word of caution and care.  Keep the list short.  Work with one item at a time.  Don’t move on until we can acknowledge the trait in ourselves and allow ourselves gentleness, compassion, and respect for the work that we are doing.  The work is not to blame, judge or reject.  We already know how to do that!  The work is to see, honor and accept–moves that help create peace within and between us.

The mirror is a part of our nature as human beings.  So is the ability to journey deep into ourselves and find a wholeness.

Bob Patrick

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