To get a reflection of ourselves, and see how we appear to the world, we look in the mirror. A flat, prism that hangs on our wall. But, interestingly, these are not the only mirrors we use. In fact, these mirrors are used the least frequently.
Hundreds or thousands of times a day, we look into other people’s faces. We process their reactions toward us. And, lots of times, these reactions are faulty and, plenty of times, not positive.
What happens when we begin to listen when all these mirrors reflect back to us “you are bad”? Well, as children, we would begin to feel we’ve been assigned a label of “bad”, and we’ll perceive our own selves that way. But, these mirrors are not always honest mirrors.
When we look into the faces of others, and at their expressions toward us, we receive feedback that is tainted by their own broken reflection of their own selves and their world.
People see through broken eyes, and pain, and years of built-up experiences. And then they see us through these lenses. Which means, they don’t even get a clear input of who we are! So how much less untainted do you think the output will be?!
To use an example from one of your favorite series, Kanda Land, the character, “Lina” (who you have yet to meet), is quite the embodiment of the black hole we feel we become on the inside when we lose sight of our own self, and have learned to, instead, rely heavily on these imperfect, outward mirrors.
When it comes to that point of desperate searching for validation in these reflections, other people’s faces nearly become our own face. What we see might as well be what’s in our two-dimensional mirror. And we begin to feel they reflect the only truth about us; and we lose sight of the truth. This leads to a snowball of desperateness and a deeper hole of reactions that we fall into.
I am one who struggles with some of these very things. I took a psychology class for a short time in college, and have continued to be interested in childhood and interpersonal psychology. One of the things I learned, is that we often form faulty boundaries as children, in response to these faulty reflections causing an issue of an unclear self, that we pick up in the faces of others.
An unstable family, inconsistent treatment, gaslighting, and other such events in a person’s life can lead to a diffused boundary. Basically, one that doesn’t even exist. And, rather, you cannot find where you end and the world begins. This very much explains the extreme and unhealthy reliance on outward mirrors. And, like our character, Lina, this can cause overwhelm with extreme people-pleasing tendencies, later on leading to apathy and nonchalance when those reactions and inconsistencies never change. Such as, when we reach adulthood and are burnt out from trying to make everyone happy, when none of our efforts were ever enough.
Both ends of this scale–high loss of self via people-pleasing, and apathy–are dangerous.
I’ve rummaged through both forests, and it was a very sudden switch from one end to the other. It happened as though I were a car that hit empty: ran just fine, until the gas ran out. And then the mask didn’t work anymore, and the spite was ten-folded and the insecurity was heightened by lack of the mask, causing apathy when the overwhelm hit a new and different high.
So, what do we do, then? Never take a mirror’s opinion? No, not particularly. BUT, we ought to have a steady core of self vision. And I don’t even mean introspection; though this can be good to make positive tweaks when necessary. I mean holding sight of the truth of who we are.
A couple ways that we can spot these faulty mirrors and stop taking these broken reflections to heart, are:
1. By understanding that we don’t deserve to be treated like we’re not enough. All of us are human, and none of us are perfect. Your mom, your teacher, your uncle, your friend, your bully; none of them are in a place that gives them any right to make you feel less-than.
2. Start storing up a filter in yourself. When words are spoken to you and they cause you to feel hopeless and lost, shred them. Those words are not the ones that will lead you to truth.
3. When the lights go out inside, and someone starts shoving that darkness into your soul, shred their words. Their treatment of you is not an honest reflection of who you are.
4. Keep these truths close to your heart. (this really is help for step two):
You are a person who is inherently valuable.
A person who is inherently worthy of love.
A person who is inherently precious and purposeful.
And a person who is inherently worthy of care.
If someone’s words do not reflect these things, their own vision is fogged, and their speculation of you is done through cracks in their own glasses.
You are not less-than, you are not an alien, you are not ridiculous, you are not stupid; you are equal, you are just as human as the rest of us, you have big dreams that deserve bright confidence, and you have a have gifts that deserve to be properly cultivated.
Inasmuch as we cannot control the mirrors we have to face, as they hide in the faces of the hundreds around us and the thirty closest to us, we can decide to shred the words that are forced on us, and build a core of truth. It may not happen overnight. And that is okay. It is important to be gentle with yourself as you heal and as you grow.
So, knowing that these million mirrors a day are not ultimate truth, dust off your own inner mirror, gather up real truth, and clean that mirror until it shines, and set those filters right at your ears, and pour reminders of your worth into the mug on your brain’s coffee table, so it sips on truth all day and can spot any pesky lie that breaks its way through the filters.
These mirrors outside of us are not always honest. They see through brokenness, and they, just as we, are imperfect. Just know, that outside mirrors can be cracked, and the faces of others are not perfect mirrors. And you deserve better than a faulty mirror. ❤
Much love to you all,
(P.S. Words can hurt you. Whoever tells you that they don’t is tricking you out of part of your truth. You are a feeling being. Becoming a stone-cold rock to impress the bullies in your life will never serve you. They want to make you feel weak, and the most maniacal way to do this is by telling you that something hurtful could never be hurtful. That is a lie. Pain hurts. Why else would they be saying harmful words? To build you up? No. They are intended to tear you down. That is why they hurt.
Recognize the pain, so you can clearly attack the darkness in full.
Ignoring pain just makes the healing skip right past it. That doesn’t benefit your beautiful heart. You are allowed to feel hurt. Hurt is something you can heal. Don’t build a safe place for hurtful words to skip past the filters. Call hurtful words what they are: hurtful. And then take that realization of honest pain and take it to your truth and let it heal.
Hurt things can heal.