Using the Mirror of Life
by Shakti Gawain
Often, we are so
stuck in our old beliefs and patterns that we aren't able to see the changes we
need to make. Even when we feel frustrated about our problems, we may not
recognize what we need to learn to change things. That is why we need to use the
mirror of life.
Everything in our lives reflects where we are in the process of developing
integration and balance. We can use everything that happens externally as a
mirror to help us see the areas within us that need healing and development.
Whenever we have a problem, especially a recurring or chronic problem, it is
always an arrow pointing directly to some aspect of our psyche where we need
If we accept that life is always trying to teach us exactly what we need to
learn, we can view everything that happens to us as a gift. Even experiences
that are uncomfortable or painful contain within them an important key to our
healing, wholeness, and prosperity.
We may have difficulty understanding what the mirror of life is trying to show
us, but if we sincerely ask for the learning and the gift in every experience,
it will be revealed to us one way or another.
One of the clearest reflections we have to work with is the one provided by our
relationships. Everyone we attract into our life is a mirror for us in certain
ways. All of our relationships -- our families, children, friends, co-workers,
neighbors, pets, as well as our romantic partners -- reflect certain parts of
us. How we feel with someone is usually an indication of how we feel about the
parts of us that they mirror.
We all attract certain people into our life who have developed qualities
opposite to the ones we are most identified with. In other words, they mirror
our disowned selves, and we mirror theirs. These are often the most highly
emotionally charged relationships. We either love them, hate them, or both! We
feel very attracted to them, and/or very uncomfortable, judgmental, annoyed, or
frustrated with them. The stronger the feelings, the more important a mirror
they are for us. We have drawn them into our reality to show us something about
what we need to develop in ourselves. The fact that we have such strong feelings
(one way or another) toward them means that they are showing us a part of
ourselves we need to acknowledge, accept, and integrate.
This does not mean we have to be with them or hold onto a harmful or
inappropriate relationship. It just means that as long as they are in our lives,
or even in our thoughts and feelings, we can use the relationship as a learning
experience. It also does not mean we are supposed to become like them. They may
carry an energy we need more of, but they may be too far to the opposite
extreme, or they may express that energy in a distorted way.
Still, we can look for the positive essence in the opposite qualities they
carry. For example, if you have been taught never to express any anger, you will
probably at some point find yourself in relationship with a person who expresses
their anger frequently and vehemently. Life is giving you a strong message that
it's time for you to learn to acknowledge your own anger. It is not saying you
have to become like this person and go around dumping your anger everywhere.
Instead, you need to find the appropriate balance, learning how to assert
yourself and stand up for yourself.
If you have strongly developed being energy but have difficulty taking action,
you may find that someone important in your life is a compulsive doer who can't
relax. Naturally, you don't want to go to that extreme, but this person is your
teacher, to show you the energy of action that you need to develop. Of course,
you are a teacher for them, as well, but it usually doesn't work very well to
try to show the other person what they need to learn from you -- although we all
succumb to this temptation. It works much better to concentrate on what we need
to learn in the situation. Once we use the mirror to understand what we need,
and actually do the work to develop a disowned self, the whole pattern of the
relationship will shift.
If we are strongly identified with power, we will attract vulnerable, needy
people. This mirror is reflecting our need to recognize and accept our own
vulnerability. If and when we do that, the needy people in our lives will either
become more empowered, or will move out of our lives. If we are overly
vulnerable and disown power, we will find ourselves in a relationship with
someone who uses power one way or another. We will feel overwhelmed, controlled,
or victimized by them until we own our power, at which point the relationship
will either dissolve or become more equal.
As I mentioned in the last chapter, we often seem to gravitate toward a romantic
or business partner who has an opposite approach to financial management. If the
difference is not too extreme, this can be a complementary and harmonious
balance in which we appreciate and learn from each other's strengths. If we are
highly polarized, however, it can be painful and frustrating, leading to a great
deal of conflict and stress.
Still, it is a gift -- an opportunity to recognize how identified we are with
one polarity and a chance to develop the opposite energy we need. Like any
relationship issue, it requires that we communicate with one another, and be
willing to listen and empathize with each other's feelings and perspective. If
we feel stuck in our ability to communicate, it may be an appropriate time to
call in a skilled third party -- a therapist, marriage counselor, or mediator --
to help us through. Personally, I find that most of us need help at certain
times to get through the deep issues that are reflected in our intimate
The topic of relationships is a complex and fascinating subject, which I can
only begin to touch on. Still, if you grasp the basic idea of how our
relationships show us the next steps we need to take in our personal growth, you
can begin to use your relationships as powerful guides on your path to true