“Maturity is that time when mirrors in our minds turn to windows, and instead of seeing the reflection of ourselves we see others.” ~ Author Unknown
If my middle son and my daughter were closer in age, people would think they are twins; not only because they look so alike physically, but mostly because of their identical characters. You see, in my life I was blessed with a royal pair; the king and queen of stage drama.
Naturally, one would think the two are peas in a pod, since they are so like-minded, but I can assure you they are quite the opposite. With skin as thin as air and a flaring prima donna attitude, both could be cast in a performance of Othello. And of course, as all artists worth their salt, they nearly drive everyone else to the bottle.
The most maddening and equally hilarious side of their act is the way they complain about each other’s behaviors when they know perfectly well they both behave exactly alike, and have been guilty of the same action in the past. I found it quite entertaining when my son came up to me the other day and informed me that his sister was chasing the cat; the moment I chastised her about leaving the poor soul alone, I turned around and saw Michael chasing the cat himself! When I asked him what he was doing, he simply answered that he only wanted to pet him. Never mind the fact that the cat was trying his best to blend in with the furniture to escape both of them. The same happens with anything else—Morgan will say something about her brother misbehaving at the table, without even realizing that she is doing the very same thing at the moment she turns him in. Or, Michael makes fun of her for losing an item and then will raise Cain because he can’t find something “he is absolutely certain” he brought home from school that miraculously materializes in his desk the next day.
They are just kids—and siblings at that—and it is normal for them to lash out at times since they are still trying to work out better ways to handle conflicts. By criticizing their own actions reflected in others, they are able to assess reactions and determine necessary adjustments to their own behaviors.
Many of us, however, don’t outgrow this stage of learning, and even in our adult years, we continue the pattern of only seeing our own flaws reflected in others, although we quite rarely recognize we are judging ourselves. It happens often that someone obsessed with control criticizes someone else with the same problem; or someone who feels insecure about their appearance or intelligence lashes out at another person they perceive lacking those attributes.
Assessing and criticizing our flaws in others allows us two different opportunities—for one, we are able to openly talk of what bothers us about ourselves without standing under the spotlight, and for second we usually annoy others enough that they will lash out in return; being the object of someone’s anger validates the flawed image we have of ourselves, and fills our need to self-punish.
As Ken Keys wrote: “A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world. Everyone you meet is your mirror.”