Seeing Mirrors: How your relationships reflect who you are

Photographer Seokmin Ko was recently featured on CNN.com with his unique and inspiring series using mirrors. I speak, almost daily, with clients about how in relationships our partners are mirrors for us. In Ko’s work you will notice how the mirror reflects back the environment where it is placed. You can barely make out the hands of the person holding the mirror in place as the mirror image is so strong.

Similarly, our chosen partner reflects back to us much of our own emotional landscape

which we then attribute to our partner.

What this means is that our partner reflects back to us our lovely parts as well as our not-so-favorable parts. You have heard of the term projection, right? Our partner is the “screen” for us to project our stories, beliefs, experiences, and wounds onto. This can be hugely beneficial as we are able to see parts of ourselves that normally lay dormant and are not exposed otherwise.

Three Ways To Learn From Your Mirror

I sometimes tell clients that it is really boring to just blame their partner for the problems in the relationship. Really. It is. Relationships are about transformation…change…healing. This requires rolling up your sleeves and getting really honest with yourself.

1. Get to know your needs:

  • What are my primary needs in a a relationship? Safety, connection, predictability, control, physical affection, etc.?
  • Am I putting my needs on my partner and expecting him or her to take care of them for me?
  • How do I take care of my own needs? Where could I do a better job of this?

2. Get to know your pain:

  • What are the things that my partner does that really drive me crazy and what are the feelings that I experience? Sadness, rejection, abandonment, shame, etc.?
  • Where do I play into these painful dynamics? What is my role? Do I wall-off, attack, or runaway?
  • When I get really angry or hurt with my partner, what does that remind me of from a previous relationship? First marriage? Mother, father, or sibling relationship?
  • Where do I feel totally powerless in this relationship? How do I behave when I feel powerless?

3. Get to know your beauty: 

  • Remember the days when you were head-over-heels with your partner? What did you just LOVE of him or her? Where does that beauty live in me?
  •  How has my partner shown up in me my best-self-parts? My ability to forgive, be compassionate, be patient, be loving, etc.?
  • Where would I want to stretch and grow these altruistic parts of myself? How might I practice that with my partner and in other relationships?

I often say that if you let it, a relationship can work you to be your best self. This requires a commitment to the process…staying awake and conscious to the present moment and alert and accountable to your pieces of the relationship.

If you want to go deeper in this work, schedule a free 20 minute consultation now or give me at call at 720.457.3342.

Jenny Glick, MA, MSC, LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist and the owner of the Counseling Center of Cherry Creek. Her work with individuals and couples helps to heal and transform and create new opportunities in relationships.