Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Importance of Mirroring

by Lawrence H. Staples

It takes prolonged mirroring of the forbidden feelings by an accepting and tolerant therapist, minister, or friend to undo what our parents and God hath wrought. Mirroring is an indirect experience that permits us to safely see and experience our selves.

It is our need for mirroring that simultaneously attracts us to and repels us from therapy, creative work, and relationships. We are drawn to creative work for the same reason that Frida Kahlo was—it is one of the few places that we can truly see and express our selves. But the fear of being seen also sets up a fearful resistance. Our deep need to be truly seen draws us to anything that will reflect our selves back to us, whether it is art, therapy, or relationships. But our deep need to avoid the pain of rejection causes us to resist those things that will reflect our true selves. It is one of the great dilemmas of life. Fortunately, there is within us a psychic entity that keeps growing into greater fullness as we become increasingly conscious. It is our self, a reflected image of God, the archetypal Self. That is actually what we spend our lives looking for. What slows and distracts us in our search is not the object of the search, but the direction we turn in order to find it. The self is found inside us. That is the precious treasure we seek. And, if we are to find it, we eventually must look where it is. The creative act of self-development results in the development of our unique identity, who we most deeply are. It is our particular manifestation of our self. As I have pointed out, we all, every one of us, have a unique identity. We just are not conscious of our unique identity until we have done a lot of inner work.

The work we do looking on the outside is not a waste. Rather, it is an off-Broadway performance of the real drama to come, merely a warm-up or a tune-up for the main event. There is nothing wrong with off-Broadway; it is merely a detour that may help us get where we are going. The longer we spend looking outside, however, the longer it takes to get where we wish and need to go.

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