Mirror, Mirror

There’s a Justin Timberlake song out - “Mirrors” – that’s got me singing along, but also thinking about relationships; specifically, what we look for in them. If you aren’t familiar with it, you can check out the lyrics & video here, and also a pic of JT, because you’re welcome:

Dammit, he’s just so cute.

It sounds to me that he’s saying the character of his song loves his woman because she reflects his heart back to him and they are soul mates*. On a deeper, spiritual level that is really nice and in fact what I believe most of us desire – that union of like souls – whether it’s romantically with a significant other or non-romantically with a friend, family member, or even pet. We want to see the essence of ourselves reflected in another to confirm that sneaking suspicion/hope we’ve had all along that we’re not all alone.

However, if we aren’t mindful about who we are and what we truly want we can become involved in a darker side of this. And if we find we’re in a relationship with someone who can only see themselves, then the dynamic turns wildly narcissistic and, in the case of a love song, not at all romantic. When we lose our sense of self to the point that we completely externalize our love, becoming involved in relationships where the other person only sees themselves is actually quite an easy trap in which we become ensnared. And if we are indicating that is ok with our behavior, words, or denial then we are contributing to that dynamic. Unfortunately, we do this sometimes because it is comfortable in some way to hide behind the show, bright lights, and loud music; we use the relationship as an excuse not be be who we really could be.

The timing of this Full Moon in Aries eclipse (10/18/13) is great for highlighting this in your life if it is at all applicable, and again, it isn’t always a romantic relationship where you’ll find this.

Go with me here on this tangent…

The term narcissism comes from a Greek myth about a man named Narcisssus, who was too vain to love anyone but himself and whose eventual demise results from him falling in love with his own reflection (read here for more on that). The term more modernly refers to a personality disorder that includes egotistical, selfish, and manipulative thoughts and behaviors. While it’s normal and necessary to have a healthy sense of ego, pride, and self-distinction, narcissism takes those traits to an extreme.

download (58)We’re all unique and what we look for in relationships will of course vary. But if you’ve lost the ability to see yourself, you may find yourself lost in the image of someone else. If you’ve been raised by or near a narcissist, this happens so subtly and insidiously that you may not have ever consciously noticed why you still always feel walked on and worn out in your adult relationships…over and over again.

The idea of having a partner to whom you are a superficial “mirror” sounds like being trapped in a funhouse mirror room (ironically featured in the song’s video) where you can only see them, with no available exit or change of scenery. That sounds terrible.

Supporting one another other is one thing, but it would be exhausting being with someone who needed a cheerleader all of the time, or was looking to fill that role for someone else. Human relationships are more complex than that. They’re wonderful and horrible, mind-blowing and boring, blossoming and festering, and everything in between. They are constantly evolving, they are rewarding, they can suck, and they always offer an opportunity to learn.

I believe each of our lives and everything/one within them to be a direct reflection of our inner selves, but I also believe part of our journey of learning and evolving is to be able to separate and identify who we are and who those in our lives are, as well. This is a major component and building block of compassion for both ourselves and everyone else.

I believe we learn as much about ourselves by noticing what is outside of us as what is within us, and that it’s important to honor what we see in both. That is truly an act of fearless compassion.

What if you discover the person you’re with fits the narcissist description? Do you run away, or confront the person, or forget you ever read this post? Maybe. That’s up to you.

But know that every relationship you have is connected to serving a higher purpose in your life. You have the opportunity to learn more about yourself right now. Why are you with that person? What is so attractive about him or her to you? Why are those traits important to you? How do you feel affected or changed by being in the relationship, and is that what you want? Start with any of those questions or some of your own, and then keep compassionately asking “Why???”. Asking yourself that doesn’t mean you have to change anything external today, so don’t become too alarmed at what you discover.

Learn to be your own devil’s advocate, which will lead you to being an advocate of your own growth, awareness, compassion, and life.

images (45)I believe the bottom line in any relationship is whether or not you’re there in some capacity of love. Starting in our most personal, intimate relationships it should be the driving force, balanced between self love and love for the other until the line is so blurred that even while maintaining your individuality both ways of loving seem like the same love.

Maybe we’re supposed to try to work towards both sides in a relationship feeling their reflection in each other is more than a glimpse of their separate ego selves; the mirror also becomes a window to their souls until it shatters the illusion of underlying separateness.

Recently, my friend Shanna Small blogged about love so beautifully that I want to share it here. Worth the time to read “The answer to all the world’s problems: Being Love”:

Wondering if you are or are with a narcissist, whether romantically, in a friendship, as a coworker, or a family member?

And here’s the longer source article in case you have the extra time to read it (the part about being in a relationship with a narcissist is at the bottom of the article):

BTW, if it turns out you’re the narcissist, then nevermind. Keep holding on to your awesomeness (until you’re ready to let it go)! ;)



*Disclaimer: I am, of course, in no way implying that Justin Timberlake is a narcissist. Sadly, I do not know him personally, professionally, or otherwise.

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