Rule No. 7: Others Are Merely Mirrors of You

Once again, this course, “When to Lay the Weapons Down” was written for attorneys and the lessons were loosely based around Rules for Being Human.

OTHERS ARE MERELY MIRRORS OF YOU

You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself.

It’s a curious thing, have you ever noticed, the more you are loved, the more obnoxious you become?

Now, why would we do that?  Rationally, logically, lovingly, this behavior makes no sense.  Yet, we do it, time and again.  And, when the dust settles and you’ve groveled to the one you’ve slammed dunked, if you are lucky, they graciously give you another  chance.

The thing we rarely admit, even sometimes to ourselves, is that when you were throwing that scene and using those ugly words as sharp pointed weapons, simultaneously, you were standing to the side, staring at yourself in horror.  “What are you doing?  Shut-up!  Shut-up!  You’re going to ruin everything.  She isn’t going to take this one.  Get a life!  And, for God’s sake, shut-up!”  Too late.  It’s out of your mouth. And, worse, sometimes you felt better, you scored a point when your love had tears in his eyes.

F E A R.  That’s the guy you’re confronting and she isn’t in front of you, he isn’t your husband, your child, or business partner.  It is that creature inside of you, wanting desperately to be healed, knowing it’s too ugly to face daylight, and that when your love finds out you’ve got this monster inside of you, he’ll hit the deck running with his Reeboks strapped tight.

Remember when you first met and you thought this man was a god, this woman the lady of your dreams?  It’s never the elephants that get you, it’s the ants.  Suddenly, his charming, idealistic ways strike you as infantile and her imagination, pure daydreaming and a ridiculous waste of time.  You’ve forgotten how badly you needed his ability to be positive the sun would rise the next day.  For you, before you met him, had colored the world grey and drab.  And her?  Oh wow!  Had any other person truly believed you a hero?  She brought tears to your eyes with her faith in you.  Now, why, her ability to believe in the impossible irritates the hell out of you.  His way of writing checks, just knowing the money will be there, causes you to clench your loving hands into fists and grind your teeth.

Let’s take a reality check, hmm?   Love is work.  Unending, unceasing  and the most challenging, fantastic, maddening, hurtful, sky-bursting work anywhere, anytime. And, some of us really like to work, we go so far as to become parents!  Courage.  Guts.  Chutzbah!   To paraphrase a line  of  Roseanne  Barr’s,  or her writer,  “If your  mate is alive at the end of the day, you’ve done your job.”

Let’s take your basic, run-of-the-mill fight.  Unbeknownst to you, there was a camera in the room and we’re going to replay it on the VCR (Updating: DVD).  Want to see it?  Listen to yourself!  Who were you fighting?  YOU. You were fighting yourself.

The most amazing thing about love is that we crave it, we hunt it down in surprising ways, we’re astonished when it happens, “What on earth does he see in me?”, “My God, why would she pick me?  She could have anybody!”  We fall to our knees that this gift has come into our lives.  For the first time, you are seen, truly seen with all your good points and all your faults displayed in huge instant dimension.

From the time we are born, we are recording devices.  We see scenes acted out in front of us and say, “Yes.  That’s what I am going to be like when I grow up!”, “I will never do that.”,  “Isn’t he strong?”, “Now, that’s good, that’s bad, …”.  Filter, upon filter, decision upon decision.  Unless you are actively conscious, we make choices automatically.  Haven’t you ever driven home and not been able to remember the drive? You were on automatic.  It’s said we use one tenth of our brain power.  What do you think the other 90% is doing?

When you are loved, there is a feeling of comfort and safety, a sense of homecoming and grace.  That’s about the time the good, the bad and the very ugly parts of ourselves begin to surface.  “Hah!  She says she loves me.  She doesn’t know about the dark side of me.  She would leave if she knew about that.”  Cautiously, carefully, or erupting like an explosive charge, we begin to test that love.  Perversely, we attack and destroy those softer emotions rising, not only in the one we love, but, most especially, in ourselves for that person.  We suddenly acknowledge the phenomenal power another person has to make the world a beautiful, glorious place to be, while realizing that the gates are forever barred to us because if he knew how frightened, petty, downright bitchy you are, he would leave and then what?  Your world will be dark and grim once more.

Better get it over with now before you become addicted to his smile, his warm arms, his joy in your happiness.

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?  WHAT?!  What on earth do you mean, ME?”  You scream in outrage.  “I can’t be!  Somebody’s rigged the mirror!” You stomp around the room in anger. “This is a rip-off. I know for a fact just how ugly I am. You can’t lie to me. Hah! Thought you had me, didn’t you?  I’ll show you just how wrong you are!”

Remarkable, isn’t it?

The universe is a fascinating marketplace.  We look outside ourselves for answers, for confirmation of our closely held beliefs and we see reflection time and again.  The billions of stars in the night sky are reflected in our DNA code, in the number of cells within.  The universe out there is the universe inside our bodies.  Until we had the correct lens, we couldn’t see it.

The outer world is simply a reflection of our interior landscapes.  When someone does something to you that you don’t care for, stop.  Take a deep breath and ask if somewhere, somehow you are doing that to yourself.  If you feel someone is neglecting you, have you been neglecting yourself?  You feel justified in your anger and it spills out of you onto that other person.  Stop.  Take a break.  Ask yourself what the lesson is you’re supposed to learn.  All this life is is one extended school.  You can learn the lessons quickly or you can take an entire lifetime to not pass one.  It doesn’t matter, except to you.

What we forget in those desperate dark moments of fear, loneliness, despair is that it is as easy to sit in sunlight and love, pure and shining, like fresh-washed hair slipping through your fingers as it is to surrender to the fear.  However old you are, that’s how many years you bought the negative, the absence of light.  At this time in our journey, it’s much easier to be negative than to be positive. It takes extraordinary energy in the beginning to let go of ugliness.  There is an illusion that it is real, that it is safe and realistic to be harsh, practical and down to earth.  There comes a moment in time, in everyone’s life, when Light pours in and for that brief span of time you KNOW you are connected, perfect, unending, loving and lovable, tender, and harmonic.  BAMM!

You land back in your skin and try to deny that glorious feeling or rant and rave at how fleeting it was.  WAKE UP!  You have the most magnificent choice to make.  Are you willing  to believe there is more to this life than what’s on the  surface?  Are you willing to embrace that feeling of joy and purpose, however fleeting? Are you willing to  stand tall and straight and accept there is another way to look at something or someone?

Everyone who comes down on the side of YES, I ACCEPT THIS GOD GIVEN GIFT OF FREEDOM goes through periods of despair that this too is an illusion, they fear they’ll go back to the old way.  When I hear this, my urge is to laugh and say with finality, “Too late.  You crossed over and there’s no going back.  Once you’ve tasted Truth, Light, Joy, Balance, Harmony and Love, it’s the strongest addiction in the entire Universe.”

In the beginning, it’s always shaky, it comes and goes just like the weather.  Some days are full of sun and some are filled with rain storms.  IT doesn’t go away.  The moment you experience it, you’ve crossed the line.  It’s no longer theory.  There is no way anyone can tell you this joy of being is a figment of tree huggers, earth lovers, California fruit loops.  YOU KNOW.

I’ll go farther.  Pain, loneliness used to be the norm.  You had a comfort level with it that, in retrospect, will appall you more than anything else.  As you choose positive over negative and experience the benefits of letting go the wreckage of the past, your ability to tolerate the old way vanishes.  It’s extraordinarily uncomfortable to be off­ center because now YOU KNOW there’s a better way and the journey never turns back.

Much the same way we hunted down love with another will you go after this way of living, looking at life, at others in your life, at every experience.  At every moment, you have a choice.  Love or fear?  Growth or stagnation?  With every breath, you chose one or the other.

Understand this.  It takes great courage in the beginning to seize fear by the hand and say, “No. There is a better way.” It takes constant awareness and alertness to understand habitual patterns.  It takes work, but most of all, it takes willingness and I salute every single one of us who have taken their guts in their hand and jumped off that cliff of fear. The rewards are enormous.

To be continued…  Rule No. 8 coming up next.

Note: This is part of the AWOL Manual, “When to Lay the Weapons Down,” copyrighted 1995, renewed 2008

13 thoughts on “Rule No. 7: Others Are Merely Mirrors of You

  1. Hunt,

    Lesson 7 is as far away from being a lawyer and that profession that I have ever read. This is Life 101 thru the doctorate level courses. I found this surprisingly enjoyable, and it touch me in so many ways, I may have to spend an extra session or 5 with Doc Head, to get thru the impact of this post. The allegories that you draw can hit anyone at any point in their life. As I read each paragraph, I found myself staring at me. Yes it made me uncomfortable, but as much discomfort as I felt, I found comfort in the words, the thought process, the reality. In particular I found these following statements very important to me:

    “The thing we rarely admit, even sometimes to ourselves, is that when you were throwing that scene and using those ugly words as sharp pointed weapons, simultaneously, you were standing to the side, staring at yourself in horror. ”What are you doing? Shut-up! Shut-up! You’re going to ruin everything.”

    “The outer world is simply a reflection of our interior landscapes.”

    “What we forget in those desperate dark moments of fear, loneliness, despair is that it is as easy to sit in sunlight and love, pure and shining, like fresh-washed hair slipping through your fingers as it is to surrender to the fear.”

    “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all? WHAT?! What on earth do you mean, ME?” You scream in outrage. ”I can’t be! Somebody’s rigged the mirror!….”

    “The most amazing thing about love is that we crave it, we hunt it down in surprising ways, we’re astonished when it happens, “What on earth does he see in me?”, “My God, why would she pick me? She could have anybody!” We fall to our knees that this gift has come into our lives.”

    Hunt, I could go on and just cut and paste this entire post. It had so much meaning to me. You have written many a post that cut to the chase and got right to the core of an issues, it may have been a political statement, it could have been about an individual, or one of your so so very lovely furry friends. But you have put many a stirring word on paper. So far these are my favorites. I take back all the negative things I said about your lawyer lessons. Thank you. Bill

    • Attorneys, by their nature and training, hold this mirror up higher than maybe any other profession.

      After reading your thoughtful comments above, Bill, I wanted to see what the stats were re marriage and attorneys – used to be 50% divorce rate during law school. This article written in 2010 gives some solid points. http://www.lawyeravenue.com/2009/02/12/the-lawyer-spouse-balancing-love-work-ambition/

      I am so pleased you got so much out of this, Bill. It was what I had hoped for when I initially wrote it way back when. Makes me wonder what you’ll think when the series ends. “Will he go back and read again? Will his opinions have changed second time around?”

      Again, thank you as always for being willing to engage with me, Bill. Many would not have the courage or the interest. :)

  2. Damn P!!! You hit home with this one!! I sat here bawling because I saw myself perfectly clear! As much as I’ve yearned for something this good, I often feel that I’m killing it myself. Every time I say something negative about myself, C admonishes me. Tells me to go say it in the mirror to myself – he won’t listen to it. “I will not tolerate you speaking like that about my Lady” he says.
    Thank you for making it clear to me what I’m doing, and showing me the way forward!!!

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