Most people have experienced driving their cars and not seeing another car in their blind spot. The result can range from a startling surprise to a disastrous wreck. My car has a small mirror within each outside side mirror to show anyone in the blind spot. I can see the reality of what is rather than what I think the reality is. Likewise we all have blind spots about ourselves. Things we just don’t see about our character and how we interact with others. The results of these blind spots can range from surprising to downright disastrous in our relationships. The problem of our personal blind spots can also be solved with mirrors. The mirrors are other people who reflect back to us what they are seeing. Let’s look closer at how this process works.
See other people as a mirror
Understand that people are a mirror to reflect your true image back to you. A simple way to prove this is to walk through a crowded mall or store. Make eye contact with others as you walk and use a blank or even somewhat angry looking stare. You will usually get the same look back. Now walk past people and smile at them. You will usually get a smile back from them. They will reflect back to you how they perceive you to be – happy, open, angry or closed off.
People say things to us for a reason. For example, someone says, “What are you mad about?” and we say, “Nothing, why are you asking me that?” Without realizing it, we looked mad to them; they are reflecting back to us what they saw and perceived. We can think they are nuts or just critical, or we can look for the grain of truth in the comment. The truth is, we often come across to others in ways we don’t realize – these are our blind spots. We need to watch for our tendency to justify and rationalize our weaknesses because of a particular life context (such as “I was stressed from work” or “You were mean to me.”)
Love your enemies – love yourself
Some of our most accurate mirrors can be our “enemies” (those who don’t like us). They will speak the truth and not worry about hurting our feelings. Perhaps they are even glad if they do. Their motivation concerning us can be negative or harmful but some of the feedback can be accurate.
The person you detest the most can be your perfect mirror. You see in them the things you don’t like about yourself. This often shows up in parenting. The child you have the least patience with and get the most aggravated by is the most like you. This usually plays out more on the unconscious level. Jesus warned us of this human tendency in Matthew 7:4-5. We are to first look at the beam in our own eye before we worry about the speck in someone else’s eye. We can be guilty of doing to others the very thing we get mad at them for doing to us.
The biblical admonition to, love your enemies, may seem impossible to do. However, there are opportunities to do so in a relationship where you have an intense dislike for each other. You may never become best friends or even like or trust them. But they may help you learn to accept and change the parts of you that you dislike.
See opportunities in irritations
A beautiful and valuable pearl starts out as an irritation in the shell of an oyster. Likewise God uses the irritations of people and life circumstances to polish off our rough edges and grow us into the beauty of his image. A beneficial practice would be to develop the habit of continuing to see yourself as others do. It is a way to step outside of self for a more realistic view. The thing that interferes with this practice is our defense mechanisms. These are the techniques each of us develops early on in life to protect our egos from emotional hurts. These defense mechanisms, such as denial, minimization, intellectualizing or blocking feelings, may work for us as a child, but they just do not work in adult relationships. They also get in the way of being willing to take an honest look at ourselves.
Friends and loved ones often don’t want to tell us the truth for fear of hurting our feelings or ruining the relationship. Where can we go for the truth? Allow people to be your mirror. This will give a whole new perspective on people you consider to be a major source of irritation to your life. It is an excellent way to overcome bitterness. You can thank God for the benefit of that which previously made you bitter.