You may have heard people say everyone you meet is a mirror of yourself, but what does it mean? An example is the involuntary physical response we have when meeting someone. What is happening here? You may be surprised at what might be going on.
A deep visceral reaction is an involuntary response that evokes a physical reaction. This is the hardwired primitive early warning system of the brain. Learning what triggers this response is a key to understanding our psyche. We can use this knowledge to overcome roadblocks to growth.
How Consciousness Is Like a Mirror
The realms of philosophy and cognitive science are still a bit of an enigma. There are many things about consciousness that we have yet to unravel. Our experience of reality is like peering into a broken mirror. (1) Every reflection holds a different view of reality. The task is learning how to interpret this collage of different reflections. Is it a blessing or a lesson, or something else?
Reflective Nature of Perception
Just as a mirror reflects a physical image, consciousness reflects our perceptions. Perception is a creative process that happens in the mind. Consciousness is an instrument of interpretation. It creates an image from imagination, memory, and the senses. A glass mirror reflects an exact replica of the object placed before it. But consciousness is an interpretive medium. It provides a carefully crafted result that fits our expectations.
When two people view the same event, they often see it differently. This is why eyewitness accounts of crimes contain inaccuracies. It’s really not a surprise. Consciousness allows us to perceive our own personal reality. It is a lens of a camera influenced by our personality, beliefs, and emotions.
Illusion and Cognitive Distortion
Mirrors can often deceive us by reflecting a distorted or altered image. In the same way, consciousness can lead us to misinterpretations or illusions. Flaws on the surface of a mirror change the image it reflects. Our consciousness is like a mirror with flaws and imperfections. The image in the mind is distorted by biases, prejudice, and societal conditioning. These distortions become accepted values and beliefs.
The Observer Effect
One intriguing similarity between mirrors and consciousness lies in the observer effect. In quantum physics, the act of observing alters the behavior of subatomic particles. When we observe something, it affects the nature of reality. Our beliefs and expectations influence how we perceive the world. Thus highlighting the interactive quality between our conscious awareness and the external environment. It is why what we believe is so important.
Conclusion of How Consciousness Is Like a Mirror
The bottom line is that consciousness is like a broken mirror. It reveals our expectations, intertwining them with the fabric of reality. When we have a visceral response, we should pause to discover what it is happening.
Everyone You Meet is Traumatized
One thing we often have in common is some level of emotional and physical trauma. Some people conceal it better than others. How you handle it determines the trajectory of your thinking and attitude. We have the tools to make the most out of each meeting. If we stay present, pay attention to the other person, and empathize.
Commonality of The Injured Soul
Everyone around you carries some emotional damage. You carry some damage, too. Do you recognize this bond we have with all living creatures? The problem is that pain causes us to react in irrational and strange ways. We don’t want to see it.
“Under the present brutal and primitive conditions on this planet, every person you meet should be regarded as one of the walking wounded. We have never seen a man or woman not slightly deranged by either anxiety or grief. We have never seen a totally sane human being.” — Robert Anton Wilson
Stop for a moment. Think about how much emotional and physical trauma you have experienced. If you are honest, you will recognize the wounds you carry. Healing still leaves scars. You may not realize how the scars affect the way you think. Scars can create judgments.
Everyone you meet is a mirror of yourself because you share some level of emotional trauma. But it also means we can reflect the joy and beauty of everyone. The task is learning to see both pieces. Can you do it?
Accepting the Missing Piece
We need to return to our natural state of innocence. The trick is learning how to return to a place of peace after suffering a traumatic event. We can do it. But it takes some serious inner work. Sorting out the feelings attached to these events isn’t easy, but it is worth it. Inner work requires the right tools and courage to face our fears. This quest will take on a path of self-discovery, which Joseph Campbell calls the Hero’s Journey (2).
Even if we can repair the trauma, we must realize we are all flawed. Our biodegradable container will not last forever. The temporary nature of life makes life valuable. We accumulate a unique, valuable interpretation of reality. Remember, everyone you meet is traumatized on some level.
So, Is It A Blessing Or A Lesson?
No one makes it out of this life alive. Our existential fear can be the motivation for the inner journey. Here is where we can learn to cope with this inevitability. The Hero’s Journey takes courage, mercy, kindness, and forgiveness, but you possess them. They are the virtues of the spirit.
Dealing with Existential Fear
People break in the strangest ways, but we all share the same core lessons. One of these lessons is that everyone is the fear of death. Everyone carries this burden. Yet, we can still reflect the goodness of the virtues that live in our souls.
“The fear of death is the beginning of slavery.” ― Robert Anton Wilson, The Golden Apple
So, is our existential fear a blessing or a lesson? Perhaps it is both because death makes us value life, and therein is the lesson of the value of life. To know we will die is motivation to take advantage of the opportunity. It is a call to open the virtues of the spirit.
Why Everyone You Meet is a Mirror of Yourself
Science helps us understand the enigma of consciousness. Physics tells us we affect everything we observe, and it is an interactive exchange. When we perceive something, we change it, and it changes us.
Where reflection of the inner and outer worlds meet
When we look at a beautiful sunset, it does something to us; it resonates on some deep primal level. We understand that this beauty is fleeting and temporary. Perhaps this is why many cultures dedicate rituals to sunrises and sunsets. How do these events make you feel? Can we apply the same concept to the people we meet?
If we like someone, we actually see something we like within ourselves. Make a mental note of the people you like. Seek that aspect within yourself that resonates with the other person. Sometimes, this quality may not be apparent. It may be something on a deep subconscious level that will need some inner work to reveal. Don’t overlook these opportunities to understand the beautiful parts of our nature.
The flaws of others are a reflection of you
The same principle applies to the people we dislike. They are showing you something you dislike about yourself. It’s the part of ourselves we want to deny. These people are also great opportunities for self-discovery. It’s not as pleasant to look at the qualities we dislike within ourselves. But it’s important to bring them into the light. It gives us the opportunity to change ourselves.
When you reveal these connections, you’ll see how everyone you meet is a mirror of yourself. This realization is motivation to show friendliness, kindness, and compassion to everyone.
Using inner work to change
Here’s a simple internal repeating question exercise. Select a day or at least an hour when you ask yourself questions about the people you meet and the creatures you see. Even the birds and squirrels we encounter have lessons to teach us.
Ask yourself, what do you see on their faces? What answers do you get from asking this question? If you get nothing, keep asking. Thoughts or emotions will surface, opening your awareness; keep asking yourself, What do you see?
Everyone You Meet Has Something to Teach You
Life is all about lessons. If we are not ready to learn, they repeat the situation until we finally get the message. It’s one reason people keep repeating the same thing over and over, making the same poor choices and making the same mistakes.
It’s not enough to recognize how people resonate with you; one must also have clarity to understand the lesson in the connection. To do this, you need to recognize and understand the thought processes behind your choices. Are you making choices out of habit or addiction? Are you choosing relationships because they represent a lesson you need to learn? Is your decision a blessing or a lesson about poor choices?
Investigate the basis of social connections
Understanding the basis of relationships is important. We must learn to base relationships on healthy spiritual energy rather than temporary conditions. It can be a difficult choice. Just because we are attracted to someone doesn’t mean they would be good for us. The Venus Flytrap is attractive to insects. But if you are a butterfly, you must learn to avoid them.
Become a Freethinker
Brief encounters can play an enormous role in this experiment; we call it life. Some people are in our lives for only a few fleeting moments. Sometimes, these people are the ones who make the most considerable impact. It could be almost anyone. Perhaps they are the drunk driver who runs into your car and causes some trauma. Or maybe they are the person who gives you something to eat when you are hungry. You never see these people again, yet they leave you with a life-changing memory.
There are some lessons for you to learn in all encounters and relationships. Don’t forget everyone you meet has something to teach you, so don’t miss these learning opportunities. Write down and list the most significant people in your life. Then, write at least two things you’ve learned from the encounter or relationship.
Take your list of significant people and see common lessons or a pattern that connects several people. Be sure to include yourself on this list. What lessons have you learned, or are you learning from yourself?
There are also people that we have known for many years. It could be a coworker or a partner. Ask yourself, what are they teaching me? What are you teaching them? Don’t forget that you are also part of the equation. You are learning from yourself. What lessons are you learning?
The best way to learn is to cultivate a beginner’s attitude. You will miss these learning opportunities if you think you are an expert and have nothing to learn.
Everyone You Meet Has a Battle Inside
They teach us to conceal our feelings, including emotional battles, at an early age. Children ask questions about death because they want to know how to confront this fear. Instead of using this as a means of self-discovery, we often give them the counterfeit of an afterlife in heaven. All this does is substitute one fear for another. If we accept the substitute, we must then worry about losing the afterlife rewards in fear of spending eternity in hell.
We learn to conceal our feelings. Most modern cultures teach us not to express our true feelings, so we have difficulty talking about and healing from trauma. We need spiritual teachers and counselors who can help us navigate this emotional terrain. Everyone you meet is a mirror of yourself handling a battle of some kind.
Family scars and trauma
No one grows up in a completely healthy family environment. Even the fictional families portrayed on television reveal unhealthy bias and prejudice. Take the television program Leave It to Beaver. Here, we have a supposedly ideal suburban family situation. However, when you look at the program today, you see an undercurrent of sexism and gender discrimination. June Cleaver always caters to the husband, Ward Cleaver, and children’s needs.
Many TV situation comedies center on abnormal behavior. The TV program All in the Family was a sitcom centered on the conflict between father and son-in-law. Archie Bunker portrayed a sexist bigot, while Michael portrayed a liberal. This TV program was humorous because it exposed racial and sexual bigotry. We could all identify within our everyday lives.
These TV programs helped us see how everyone is traumatized and everyone you meet has a battle inside. We could identify with the struggle and the scars from our turmoil.
“How many times… have you encountered the saying, ‘When the student is ready, the Master speaks?’ Do you know why that is true? The door opens inward. The Master is everywhere, but the student has to open his mind to hear the Master’s Voice.” ― Robert Anton Wilson, Masks of the Illuminati.
Things To Keep in Mind
Everyone you meet is a mirror of yourself. The challenge is learning to see the good, the bad, and the ugly. We can use this mirror to make the world a better place. That’s the real challenge.
This message is even more critical today. We still must manage the emotional and physical consequences of living in an ongoing pandemic. We live in a state of trauma caused by the ever-present danger. Take every opportunity to show friendliness and live with compassion. Can you do it? If you believe in spreading kindness and making a difference, join us in our mission by donating today.
(1) Exploring Self-Consciousness From Self- and Other-Image Recognition in the Mirror. The National Library of Medicine.
(2) The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell, Wikipedia