The Mirror Exercise :
Mirror, Mirror On the Wall,
Who is the Most Stressed Out of All?
There is an old saying that points out “We dislike most in others, what we dislike most in ourselves.”
With that in mind, to remove excess negativity, resentment, judgment, or tension in a relationship, and, yes, WORK STRESS, try using the Mirror Exercise.
The next time you feel angry, frustrated, or judgmental of another, flip it. In other words, ask yourself where you behave like the other person (or worry that you may lapse into that behavior and so spend lots of energy trying hard to not be “that way”). Instead of looking at them and labeling, look at yourself and make a mental shift.
For instance, let’s say you are very conscientious about being on time. You wake up earlier than you’d like; you speed sometimes to make it there on time; you get upset with slow traffic; you start the morning frantic and frustrated with your family… all to make it there at the stroke of your start time. Now, let’s also say that you have a co-worker who consistently “slides in” at least 5 minutes late on a regular basis. Chances are great that you highly resent this behavior. After all, you are really making timeliness a priority and this person clearly doesn’t care, right?
What’s likely happening, is that you are realizing that you too have an issue with punctuality. Otherwise, you would find yourself easily getting to places in plenty of time. That this other person is seemingly not going through the pains that you are to be on time, angers you. This is because you feel you are giving up a great deal in terms of peace of mind and lowered stress levels to honor your priority of punctuality.
Instead of resenting the “latecomer,” try instead to see that you are capable of being late…you are in fact sometimes late (if not often). We are all sometimes late! Realize that you are transferring your own self-judgment on the other person (’cause that’s easier and more fun).
Here are some areas where the “mirror concept” described in the above entry might present itself:
• Judging someone who is overweight when you are dieting
• Judging someone’s grammar mistake
• Being angry at someone who cancels your plans (though you have canceled on someone, at some time, in your past—or would have liked to, but went even though you didn’t really want to)
• Resenting a co-worker for going out to lunch (while you are grabbing a bite at your desk so you can keep working through your impossible “to- do” list)
• Gossiping to co-workers about how “persnickety” your colleague with the neat-as-a-pin workspace is about keeping things well-maintained (and you are lucky to find your desk under all the piles of paper!)
The list could go on and on. Find your “hot buttons” and start noticing your self-talk about others. As soon as you find yourself thinking negatively about someone or labeling him or her, immediately ask yourself “Where do I do this in my life?”
"The ego mind will do exactly what it condemns others for and not even see it."
~Eckhart Tolle, author, The New Earth
See Steph's page "Shadow Work" for more resources on this process.
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