What Relationships Can Show Us About Ourselves
“Everyone and everything that shows up is a reflection of something that is happening inside of us” -Alan Cohen
What are your relationships revealing? Do you see what you really need to see? How can you learn to be better?
We learn in the context of our relationships, and the world is a looking glass reflecting back what we need to know. Our innate desire is to have nurturing and intimate relationships, experience good friendships, and have positive interactions with others. Relationships, whether in our personal lives, work, community, and any setting, show us what we need know about ourselves. We all have a desire to feel a sense of belonging; and to be respected, valued, and appreciated. What we give is reflected back to us; and it is just what we need to grow and be better.
We often live our lives with detached reflection. As Stella Terrill Mann states, “The daily mirror test will help us see many parts of the truth about ourselves”. Thought-provoking self-reflection enables us to take inventory of ourselves; and to build, revive, and renew our connection with others. Relationships are mirrors that reveal empowering life lessons that can inspire us to self-reflect, heal, let go, and love.
How to self-reflect
Authentic and honest self-reflection serves as a guide for inner knowledge that enables us to look deeper into ourselves and discern desirable and undesirable aspects of ourselves. You can also ask a trusted friend to share their perceptions. Others can see things that we may not be able to see.
Stella Terrill Mann says, “The unexamined life is hardly worth living”. We can discover patterns of unworthiness drilled into us by fear-based programming and discover hidden potential. Self-inquiry leads to self-knowledge and self-discovery by observing our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Our inner dialogue can teach us about ourselves and how we feel as empowering points of self-reflection. Such questions as, “Why did I respond that way?”, “How am I feeling?”, and “What can I learn from this experience?“.
According to Buddha,”Since everything is a reflection of our minds, everything can be changed by our mind”, and Ernest Holmes says, ” Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it”. You have the power of choice to change the dialogue and interrupt negative self-talk by setting an intention and using an empowering affirmation such as, “I am the highest and most loving expression of myself“.
Without self-reflection, we are blind to ourselves and blame others for failing to meet our expectations. As quoted by Rumi, “People of the world don’t look at themselves so they blame one another”. This is a powerful tool for gaining clarity, discerning familiar patterns, and getting to know ourselves. Opportunities are presented for personal growth, and we should acknowledge our positive attributes, be gentle with ourselves, and maintain a sense of humor.
How to heal
“What is the source of my irritation?” We can choose to remain stuck in faulty beliefs about ourselves and mired in negative feelings of guilt, blame, shame, and regret that are unproductive. Living out these themes inhibit our capacity to heal ourselves and others. As Rumi muses, “If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?” Relationships bring the wisdom of clarity that allow us to see the big picture; and learn lessons of acceptance, forgiveness, compassion, empathy, and tolerance. Through self-reflection, we can become empowering self-managers.
Carl Jung states, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead to an understanding of ourselves”. Through self-examination we can start anew and refresh ourselves by taking time to be silent, calm, and set intentions that reflect the beauty of our inner being. As we improve ourselves, we can experience wholehearted connections with ourselves and others.
When to let go
Letting go of outworn relationships can open doors to new ones. So often, we have a tendency to hang on to that which is unloving and when a relationship has served its purpose. When we faithfully do our part and realize that the connection is not mutually reciprocal, abusive or harmful, we have to know when to let go and move on. Knowing when to draw the line in the sand and set healthy boundaries takes insight and courage.
Realizing that there are natural seasons of relationships, we can navigating ourselves through the stages of relationships with a profound understanding that every person, event and experience teaches us just what we need at the right time. It may be necessary to seek support and professional help. As we grow and change, we experience personal freedom and what we do for the good of ourselves is also for the good of others.
How to be loving
“What does a good relationship look like?”, “What does a good relationship feel like?” and “What are loving qualities?” The power of love is life-changing. Connect to the love within, love and care for yourself, and build on this empowering foundation. Rumi says, “As you live deeper in the heart, the mirror gets clearer and cleaner”, and “Your task is not to seek love, but merely seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it”.
Love is active and in Henry Drummond’s ‘Analysis of Love’, that I adopt as “The Wholistic Model of Love” that includes the following nine ingredients in the ‘Recipe for Love’: Patience, kindness, generosity, humility, courtesy, unselfishness, good temper, guiltlessness, and sincerity. These practical ingredients build character, and can be used in everyday life. Furthermore, they enhance emotional intelligence through self-awareness, strengthen our capacity to be authentic, minimize conflict and avoidance of impulsive decision-making, and inspire natural curiosity and creativity as we move beyond fear and open ourselves to new experiences.
Love fully, live wholeheartedly, and be the instrument for love. By practicing these ingredients in your daily life, your relationship with yourself and others will be enriched. If you desire to have good friendships, Rumi states, “The one who has a good friend doesn’t need any mirror”. Witness the ‘Feel-good-Factor’ that is self-reinforcing and self-sustaining by being loving.
Love inwardly and reflect outwardly. What we give is reflected back to us, and shows us just what we need to know to be better. Cultivate loving relationships that will bring peace and harmony. Reflective journaling can help you connect with yourself, and understand relationships and life events. Through solitude, meditation, affirmations, and being mindful, you can know your true self. Become empowered by profiting from life lessons, heal, let go, and love. Above all, be grateful and create the ripple effect for positive change.
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