Winter, for those of us living in the North Country with below zero temperatures, is an invitation to cozy up by the fire, have a cup of tea with a friend, and sink into reverie. I cherish this season as a time for reflection. I’ve been thinking lately about the difference between self-reflection and the reflection received by, or given to, others.
Last night I saw the movie, Boyhood. It reminded me of how impactful the reflections of family members can be in our childhood. In the movie, Mason receives messages from his father, successive stepfathers, a teacher and his boss, of how he is not as good as his older sister; is a bad student, unhelpful, undisciplined and not good enough. Despite his mother’s love, his shoulders slump progressively over time with feelings of shame.
Self-image is initially comprised of the reflections of what others see in us. The problem is that others don’t always see us accurately. Often what they reflect is a mirror of them selves. This is called “projection. It can take years to unbraid that which we know to be true about ourselves from what was untrue.
Years ago I read an article on child development speaking to the importance of reflection. It reported that children who do not receive adequate reflection often resort to journal writing as a way of validating their existence. This helped me understand why I have always enjoyed and, until recently, needed to keep a journal.
Today I belong to a supportive community dedicated to personal and spiritual growth. Its value to me is the many opportunities for mirroring. I see community as a multifaceted mirror. Each piece I pick up and look at from the floor of my subconscious represents a different part of myself as seen in another.
To see ourselves we need to be seen; to understand ourselves we need a community to reflect back what is true in us. The picture I took above depicts for me the beauty of the light we can each shed upon each other.
What messages reflected to you from others, feel inaccurate?
What reflections feel true?