Every relationship you have in your life acts as a mirror to reflect back to you some aspect of yourself that you need to work on. The thing is, this only works if we are willing to be open to the possibility that what irritates us about others is a reflection of what irritates us about ourselves.
We can go one step further and make the conscious effort to use altercations and confrontations with other people as a mirror for ourselves for spiritual evolution. When we treat arguments as chances to learn about ourselves and upgrade ourselves instead of treating them as “toxic” things that need to be avoided, we can dramatically speed up our own development.
Here is some key ways to use other people as mirrors for your own spiritual evolution:
1. Listen to what they have to say about you
When someone is telling you something about yourself that makes you feel bad about yourself, there are only two real potential explanations for why they are doing that: They are either fabricating it out of thin air, or it is rooted at least partially in truth. Chances are, if it is someone who is close to you and who loves you, it is rooted in at least partial truth.
Listen to what they are saying as if it HAS to be true at least in part. Some of it may be not fully true and can be filtered out, but remember that the goal here is to use them as an opportunity to be a mirror for yourself. It would be easy to dismiss everything as false once they make a point about you that you don’t agree with, but it’s important to treat other people’s criticisms of you as valuable because they are reporting from a different perspective outside of yourself.
2. See past your defense mechanisms
Your egos job is to protect you, defend you, avoid pain, avoid threats, avoid danger, avoid metal/emotional/physical abuse, and help you avoid predators. It is an evolutionary mechanism for self-preservation. When someone starts saying things about you that are mean, make you feel bad about yourself, or challenge your identity, your ego kicks in as a defense mechanism.
It will attempt to invalidate what they are saying, look for counterexamples to what they are saying, or get on the offense and attack them back. It is your brains job to protect you, but the key here is to administer consciousness into the situation and see past your defense systems and into the core truth of what they are saying. By identifying with your defense systems and operating from a space of self-protection, you may be missing out on a valuable chance to treat that other person as a mirror for self-improvement.
3. Don’t try to repair your ego
Your ego may come out a bit bruised, as it does every time it has to look at itself in the mirror and be totally honest with itself. Use your brokenness as motivation for a breakthrough, instead of trying to repair your broken ego by telling yourself a story about how stupid or ignorant the other person was.
Our first instinct when we feel emotionally beat up is to turn inwards and try to repair our own self-esteem and tell ourselves a story to make ourselves feel better, when the best thing to do sometimes is to allow yourself to marinate in your feeling of defeat and find the strength to look beyond your emotions and into any objective truth that lies at the heart of what they said.
Sure, sometimes people are excessively rude, mean, aggressive, or unloving when they try to bring a flaw of yours to your attention, but watch your ego from a distance try to use their rudeness as a reason to dismiss everything they said so it doesn’t have to look at itself.
The next time you are in a conversation with someone and it seems uncomfortable, catch yourself wanting to either defend yourself or dodge the situation. Life is too short to not use every opportunity to upgrade our souls.
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” - Carl Jung
Hope this helps!