The Ultimate Mirror
It is my experience that all relationships act as a mirror, reflecting our exact state of consciousness at any given moment. The tendency in painful situations is to blame someone or something outside of ourselves for our suffering. When we start to take responsibility for ourselves from the inside out, we improve our ability to respond to life's ups and downs. Think of these external people, situations and forces acting as a mirror, reflecting the unexamined parts of ourselves, perhaps our deepest wounds. In every difficult situation, there is a lesson present if we choose to see it, guiding us towards our highest potential.
So, how do we work with this?
It is said that practice, sadhana, polishes the mirror of our consciousness, so that we can see more clearly what life is presenting to us. For while we often make external circumstances responsible for our pain, we can do the same with joy and pleasure. We rely upon conditions to celebrate, to express love and gratitude, to feel abundantly joyful. By cultivating the mind through practice, we bring understanding to the seeds of our joy and suffering. We begin to tend to those seeds even when there is no reason to; that is the essence of practice.
Here is one tool I've found very helpful along the way. It's shifts the language around victimizing thoughts, and moves us into a place of empowerment. Instead of asking, "Why is he/she doing this?" ask, "What is he/she reflecting about myself?". Instead of asking, "Why is this happening to me?" ask, "What can I learn from this?". This contemplation allows us to gain clarity, communicate from a heart-centered place, and be of greater service in our relationships. When we start to let go of our "story", limiting beliefs we hold about ourselves or others, we create space around the dualistic illusion that we are separate. We start to see each other as reflections.
You are me, and I am you.
Isn’t it obvious that we “inter-are”?
You cultivate the flower in yourself,
so that I will be beautiful.
I transform the garbage in myself,
so that you will not have to suffer.
I support you;
you support me.
I am in this world to offer you peace;
you are in this world to bring me joy.
– Thich Nhat Hanh