No, I’m not breaking up with you… I’m not even talking about relationships! Well, not in the way you’d think anyway. I’m talking about projection – about how everything we see in other people is a reflection of ourselves. This works in both the positive and negative aspects of what we think of other people (and, as a result ourselves); in essence, things you like about other people are things you don’t give yourself enough credit for, and things you don’t like about other people reflect things you don’t like about yourself.
Let’s start with the ‘negative’ – things we don’t like about other people. I’ve found that they fall into two categories, and I’ll use an example to illustrate my point. Let’s suppose you don’t like someone because they’re angry and irritable, and have a short fuse a lot. Based on this theory of reflection, there are two main reasons as to why you feel this way:
1. You’ve ‘disowned’ your anger, so you’ve convinced yourself (consciously or subconsciously) that you never feel angry so other people shouldn’t either.
2. You have issues with your anger yourself – you might be aware of them, you might not. Anger can get stored deep without you even realising it.
So either way, the bottom line is that you don’t like this person’s anger because you’re angry on some leve – it could be that you think anger is ‘bad’ or that expressing anger is ‘bad’ so you repress it, and expect others to too. Acknowledge that it’s not actually about the other person – it’s about you. They’re just reflecting your issues – so really they’re helping you!
Now, the positive aspect of this topic is a little simpler, I think. Quite simply, if you like something about someone else, the chances are that you haven’t given yourself permission to use this skill/characteristic as much as you could, or you don’t give yourself enough credit for having this skill/characteristic.
So next time you spot something you don’t like about someone (obviously it doesn’t have to be anger!), have a think why and try and work through it. The more compassion you can show for yourself with this issue, the more you’ll be able to show compassion for the people who ‘reflect’ this issue back to you; and vice versa, if you can be compassionate towards other people, it’ll help you be compassionate to yourself.