Mirror, mirror on the wall, so goes the line in the 1937 Disney classic, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Actually: It’s both “Mirror, mirror, on the wall…” AND “Magic mirror, on the wall..” Either way, I want to suggest that our life is a mirror of ourselves. It read from psychologists and researchers alike that much of what we experience, and complain about in life, is a mirror of ourselves. Have you ever been frustrated in traffic because someone pulled out in front of you and as you’re calling them your favorite name, you realize, hey I’ve done that too? So often much of what we find irritating in others is very often what we need to work on ourselves.
The dark side of ourselves draws its power from the more raw, intense emotions, like fear, anger, hatred, passion, and aggression. These are traits from which few of us can claim exemption. Most of us put forth our frustrations with these emotions regularly. The term dark side implies that we are turning ourselves away from the light. We are transforming ourselves away from the very things which we desire for ourselves and others. I think this is because of the raw and intensity of the emotions that surround this mystical and ubiquitous power; it seems somehow more accessible. I found out recently that a young man whom I had invited over to Thanksgiving dinner had a drug addiction. I had no idea from his behavior nor his attitude that such existed. Those detrimental effects were not only hidden from me but from him as well, as he shortly after that died from a drug overdose.
When we take time to recognize what we’re complaining about others and ask ourselves if this is something that we need to work on, we will frequently find that we need to pay attention as well. Some literature refers to this side of our personality as the shadow side. I like that term a bit better because it implies that we all have some deeply ingrained rigid ways of thinking and behaving to which we could pay more attention. What are those little comments that show your bias’ that you or your kids make? What are we as parents passing on to them in terms of our ridgid ways of thinking?
Taking the time to look at your shadow side as if in a mirror will help you as well as your kids to begin to see that much of what we are living in this life is a direct reflection of our thinking. What if at the end of this life we found that all that we saw, enjoyed, complained about, and experienced were directly related to our creations? We don’t know, but I suspect that in many ways, it is correct. If you want to check yourself in this area, try a few simple statements on yourself to see if anything is stirred up within you. Here are a few to begin with and then you can construct some of your own. You are left on an airplane for two hours because of a miscommunication that the pilot had with the tower. You are in debt because of an error that the bank made and now you are spending hours and hours straightening it out. Someone calls you a name that lights your fire; you know that one word that you dislike. They have confronted you falsely about something and are going after you verbally.
Many of these situations bring to mind some of the realities of life that we have faced. I feel that it is so important to teach our kids to be proactive in as many of these situations as we can help them to understand in advance. By role-playing these and others with our kids, we give them the tools that they need to be more Teflon coated when life unfairly treats them or doesn’t deliver what we expect of it. Here’s what I know, When we take some time each day to review our more difficult situations from the day, we help ourselves to be more aware of our shadow side and then to address it. I hope that you will take some time to develop this concept for yourself and for those whom you love.
Yours for Better Parenting,