If you take a minute to close your eyes, start imagining each of your friends and work colleagues. Then imagine your partner and your ex-partners (I won’t tell them). Think about some of the characteristics they have that really irritate you, and before you get too worked up, think about some of the characteristics that you admire about them. There’s no need to get lost in the specific scenarios and stories, but think of simple, descriptive words. While all of these people you’re thinking of may have some qualities about them that seem to oppose or compliment you, they are each your mirror.
Let’s first address some of those admirable qualities. What makes these qualities admirable is that they are expressed by people you like, and that you may consciously or unconsciously be striving to harbor them yourself if you don’t already. If you have a lot of brave people in your life, ask yourself how you have been brave in your life. Maybe all of this bravery is a nudge for you to do something outside of your comfort zone. Use what you admire in others to lift them and be lifted. It works in a similar way with irritating qualities. You might have a friend who always one-ups you by countering with the better bar recommendations or a busier, way more exhausting schedule. When do you like to be validated for your hard work and intelligence? What have I got to learn about myself through criticizing others? If one of your coworkers is really rude or you hate how your partner can be so careless, maybe you don’t identify with those and resist them because you try to be nice and conscientious. Fantastic! Those people and qualities could instead be there to remind you to maintain your good qualities, even teach you a little bit about tolerance and being flexible.
Here’s an opportunity to take inventory of all of your relationships past and present. Some of the people who came to mind you may notice have so many irritating qualities that it would be worth it to question whether they should have a place and time in your life at all. Do they make you feel good? However, do keep in mind before you give anybody the boot that any detected toxicity from people right now could be a result of their major stress. Otherwise, now is as good a time as any to ask “What is the purpose of each person in my life? What is my purpose in theirs?”
Ask, “Who am I attracting? How can I be more attractive?” without worrying too much about your physical appearance in an actual mirror, and more so the qualities that are being reflected back to you by others. Something about you attracted everybody in your life to you and you to them. As you think about relationships in your past, something must have changed for them to have come to a close. Whether it was dramatic or a gradual drift, it’s natural for people to come in and out of your life. What about you was different and the same from you now? This helps you to decide with whom you will surround yourself. Remember, being open doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be friends with everyone. It could be that you’ll be attracting more open-minded people. Sometimes we don’t like what we see when we look in the mirror; sometimes we love it. We can be grateful for all of the people around us who teach us and mirror back who we are.
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