This is a guest post by Kristen Riordan (Schneider), grad intern, White Picket Fence Counseling Center.
“We see the world not as it is, but as we are.” – Anais Nin
If you’re like me, you try your best to be good to others, to think well of others, yet sometimes you find yourself irked by someone’s behavior or triggered by a personality trait in another person. It’s as though a reflex is firing — judgment comes quickly.
This is a great place to pause and remember that sometimes when we think we’re looking out a window, we’re really looking into a mirror. The particulars that peeve us about another person actually exist within us.
To illustrate, here’s how this concept animated itself in my life recently. I was enjoying a coffee at a cute little café. I was busy daydreaming when I noticed a couple of young women taking what seemed like dozens of photos. They were posing their bodies and rearranging their coffees for the perfect picture.
My first thought was, “Oh my goodness, girls, be in the moment! Geez, why do these girls care so much about making themselves and their day look so damn perfect?” Then I realized they’re me. I too frequently miss the moment because I’m preoccupied with optics. I too get tangled up in pressure to feel like I’m being perceived in a specific way.
See, when I saw those girls, I wasn’t looking out a window judging something separate from me. Those girls were my mirror. They were reflecting back to me something that I myself am aware of and want to work on in my own life. ‘Projection is thinking we’re looking out a window when we’re really looking into a mirror’ — to know this is to know compassion for ourselves and others.