Everyone is familiar with the 19th-century fairy tale of Snow White and the seven dwarfs. As you remember, in this story the queen boldly asks her mirror, "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?" She is outraged when the mirror answers that her stepdaughter Snow White is the fairest, and the queen sets out to destroy Snow White.
Wouldn't it be great to have a mirror that would answer your questions?
You could ask what is needed to create the life you desire. Or what is blocking true love from your life. Or what is your next step toward a more fulfilling career? Well, it just so happens there's an app for that. Your life is your mirror. (Turns out that the queen was on to something!)
The mirror in the fairy tale was showing the queen what she would need to develop in order to become "the fairest of them all." Snow White had the qualities the queen lacked: kindness, humility, and patience.
But because the queen wasn't willing to face her need to develop these qualities, she acted to destroy Snow White instead. She failed to see Snow White's good qualities as traits she could develop, too—becoming more beautiful in the process. Instead of being inspired by Snow White, the queen sought to destroy her.
Our Feelings as a Mirror
We all do this to some degree. This defense mechanism is often referred to as projection or transference. When we are jealous of someone, our feelings are the mirror urging us to develop the part of ourselves that is lacking or covered over with pain. When something a person does incite anger and upsets us emotionally, our reaction holds the keys to our best self. No one "makes us feel" jealous or angry.
Our reactions to other people are cues, signaling to us that something within needs healing or reconciliation. By using the mirror of our life to guide us, we can discover what we need to change for that healing to occur. And sometimes, our mirror can have some broken edges.
Related reading: "How to Find Inner Peace by Resolving Conflicting Feelings"
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall... in a Love Relationship
Let me give you a personal example. When my husband and I were first married, it soon became apparent that I was the "order freak" and he was the "messy one." A few years into our marriage (after that honeymoon feeling had worn off), I started to get bent out of shape because he would be reading the newspaper or watching television when there was clearly so much to do: dishes to wash, toys to pick up, bills to pay, grocery shopping to do, diapers to change... and on and on.
After months of struggling with my own angst over this, one day I got really curious. I asked myself, "Why does my husband's behavior upset me so much?" When I really looked inside myself, instead of wanting him to change, I discovered something very important.
Limiting Beliefs Inhibit Connection and Love
My husband held the part of me that was screaming to be developed. What upset me was not the mess (although I do love an orderly and immaculate house). What upset me more deeply was that I didn't know how to relax, especially when there were a zillion things that needed to be done. And beneath my inability to relax, guess what I discovered?
I uncovered a false belief that my self-worth was dependent on what I accomplished. My husband was really great at BEING and at relaxing regardless of what was left undone. He knew how to unwind from his workday and unplug from stress. I did not.
Once I captured this insight and put it into practice, my life—and my marriage—changed dramatically, for the better. Our relationship became a priority. Instead of stressing to check one more thing off my list, I began to value downtime more, relax, and enjoy the unexpected. My knee-jerk reactions to my husband's messiness dissolved completely, and I began to really appreciate the quality of his mellow nature, which then poured more happiness into our relationship. And being curious became a habit, too. I continually found myself saying, "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, what is it that I need to grow?"
If we pay attention to our life experiences, we'll see reflections of our internal world.
Understanding ourselves is a foundational part of emotional intelligence. The decisions we make come back to us. It's just like planting a garden: if you plant radishes, you get radishes, not carrots.
We plant in our lives, too, through our thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and responses to people and situations. Our cumulative decisions in life create the mirror that reflects back to us our private little universe and reality.
More reading on the mirror as it relates to relationship: "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Emotional Mirroring for Others"
Are you still living from limiting beliefs?
Often, we are still operating from limiting beliefs or outdated decisions we made as children. Many times, the unconscious is running the show without us. However, as soon as we pay attention to what the mirror reflects back to us, we begin to learn how to be better gardeners in our lives and relationships. We may harvest pithy radishes this season, but if we plant something different (through more positive, loving thoughts and actions), we'll eventually have a much tastier harvest—and we'll see the results in the mirror of our life.
Even though this concept may seem more like a fairy tale than reality, I encourage you to keep an open mind. Consciously using our life as a mirror becomes a powerful tool. Through mindfulness and attentive observation, we are capable of creating radical change. And at the same time, we have a fun way to learn and grow.
Our life is our mirror.
Whatever makes up our life now is directly linked to all our past thoughts, emotions, decisions, beliefs, mistakes, and so on. If we are willing to take a serious look, our life (and everyone in it) will show us what we need to change in order to grow and live more fully.
When we accept this challenge, we become wise gardeners of our own lives. We weed out what we don't like, and we plant new seeds of Snow White happiness. "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?"
Observe and listen to what the mirror of your life is telling you. Then take action to create a life you love!
To learn more about emotional intelligence or empathy, check out our online course. To dig into personal development and learn how to be your own life-coach, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.