Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Mirror Effect

There are many gifts you give yourself whenever you forgive another, such as the freedom to be happy again. In this message I want to focus on one gift that is not as obvious. It is the gift of discovering a valuable insight about yourself.

You see, sometimes the person you need to forgive is actually “mirroring” a behavioral trait you have, but don’t want to consciously admit. If you are willing to “look in that mirror,” you may find something within yourself that needs healing. For instance, you may discover a long-neglected emotional wound that has been causing you to behave in an unproductive way. But once that wound is revealed, you have the opportunity to heal it . . . as well the opportunity to see the person who is your “mirror image” in a more compassionate light. Here is an example from my own life:

In my former career as an advertising writer, I often had to present my ideas to the vice president of our agency. This man and I were always butting heads. He always wanted to make changes to my work that I thought were completely unnecessary, or even damaging. And he always wanted to have the last word. In short, he always had to be the smartest person in the room.

I knew my anger towards this man was only hurting me, not him, so I decided I had to forgive him and release my resentments. But how? That’s when I remembered a forgiveness technique I had recently come up with. I began to imagine what might have happened to this man as a child that would explain his behavior. Was it possible he was the baby of the family, and his parents always treated him as such—never giving him credit for knowing anything, or having anything valuable to contribute? As an adult, was he still just a child that desperately wanted to be heard?

The minute I considered that possibility—whether it was actually true or not—I was able to feel compassion for this man, and forgiving him became much easier. I no longer condemned him for his behavior. Instead, through the eyes of forgiveness, I began to look upon this man as a wounded child who wanted nothing more than to be healed of that wound through my understanding.

And that’s when it hit me. The reason I imagined this man’s childhood the way I did was simply because that was my childhood!  I had been the baby of the family! And no matter how old I grew or what I achieved, I was always treated like a baby—a baby who couldn’t possibly have anything valuable to contribute.

No wonder this man and I had been butting heads! We both had to have the last word! We both had to be the smartest person in the room! All of a sudden I realized I not only had to have more compassion for the vice president of our agency, I also had to have more compassion for myself . . . for I, too, was still just a child that desperately wanted to be heard.

The next time I had a meeting with this man I had a completely different attitude towards him. I no longer judged him, because that would just be judging myself. Instead, I treated him with the respect he deserved as the vice president of our agency. And even more importantly, I treated him with the understanding he deserved as a wounded child—no matter what actually caused that wound.

Boy how that transformed our relationship! From that point on, this man and I never butted heads again. He didn’t try to change anything about my work that wasn’t necessary. And he no longer had to have the last word. All of our future meetings were peaceful and productive.

Friends, is there someone in your life you resent or bear a grudge against? Try the technique I described above. Think of that person as a child who needs your understanding, not your judgment. It will make it a whole easier for you to forgive that person. And hey, if along the way you also happen to discover something within yourself that needs healing . . . well, that’s even better.


© 2015 by Steven Lane Taylor
Steven Lane Taylor, LLC

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