A friend recently sent me an e-mail called 10 Rules for Being Human by Cherie Carter-Scott. One of them in particular jumped out as being especially relevant and true. It said, "Other people are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself."
These two lines stopped me in my tracks, and made me pause and really think about how often I judge others for something that I am merely projecting onto them. Most of our lives are really about ourselves. Not because we mean to be self-centered, but by nature, we are all focused on ourselves. All of our relationships flow, to some degree, out of our feelings about ourselves.
If we feel secure and happy, we see the world in a positive light. If we believe we are worthless and that no one loves us, we put this attitude onto the people around us. It's referred to as "self-fulfilling prophecies." What we believe, we become, and we find other people confirming what we already thought to be true.
I've noticed this in a personal way since I began focusing on my dream to write professionally. I used to quite easily convince myself that I wasn't a good enough writer to make it into a career. I felt that I couldn't do it, that I didn't deserve to do it, and I felt sure that everyone around me felt the same. But once I began to find my confidence and my groove, people started to encourage me everywhere I went. Friends patted me on the back, and my entire world view seemed to take on a new colour, become more beautiful, and my dream didn't seem so far-fetched anymore.
Often the characteristics that drive me bananas in other people are the ones that I've struggled with myself. Once again, other people are mirrors for my own personality, magnifying my own weaknesses and fears back to me. I don't want to be self-centered and rude, but I fear that those qualities are always lurking just under the surface, waiting for a chance to be given free reign. I'm not very giving by nature, and the people who are stingy and sparing with themselves incite a raring rage inside of me, probably because I understand that deep down, I'm actually like them.
We can always work on ourselves. As long as we are alive, it's not too late to improve, to fight our naturally messed-up impulses and sculpt our personalities to make ourselves better, kinder, more loving and less judgemental. I need to take the time to examine myself regularly, to discover why I go crazy around certain types of people, and decide what it really says about me to have my buttons pushed in this way. And the same is true for the good things I find in other people - what do those wonderful qualities reflect in me? How can I improve? I can't change others, but I can always change myself, and I must, in order to become the kind of person I desperately want to be.