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The mirror theory: wounds that shape and destroy relationships

Last update: 09 February, 2018

Have you ever wondered what actually happens when you bond with another person and after a while discover traits that you dislike? Jacques Lacan's mirror theory helps us understand this process. According to this author we would create our personal identity as we perceive ourselves in others. Thus, our relationships with others are the mirror image or projections of aspects of our personality that we like or dislike.

What is the mirror theory?

Just as there are parts of our body and our appearance that we dislike when we look at ourselves in the mirror, there are also aspects of our personality that we do not accept. These aspects are suppressed by our subconscious. However, we see what we offend reflected in our fellow human beings. This means that in a certain way we sometimes recognize in ourselves some of the traits we dislike in others, albeit symbolically. What we don't like about others, we may not like about ourselves either.

So we are constantly projecting a part of ourselves. The mirror theory therefore invites us to change our attitude in such a way that we do not have to protect ourselves from others, but should ask: "For what reason do I experience this situation with this person and what do I have in myself that I cannot bear in her?" Since we are generally unable to see our own shadows and even virtues, makes life the gift of the relationships we experience to show us in an indirect way what is within us. The other person in the relationship simply serves us as a mirror, we reflect ourselves and thereby get the opportunity to recognize ourselves.

Direct or inverted mirror

The mirror theory knows a direct and a reverse projection. Here's an example: Let's imagine that you can't stand the egoism of your partner or friend. In a direct way, you may be projecting that part of you that is selfish and that you reject. If you do it the other way around, that person might show you how little value you place in your interests. Maybe you are dependent on others and give others more priority than you. One way or another, we get very valuable information for our self-awareness and development.

What I don't like about you, I correct about myself.

Maybe you think your boss is asking too much of you. Or maybe you are very demanding and perfectionist about yourself, and your boss is nothing more than a reflection of this demanding behavior that you impose on yourself. On the other hand, it can also be that you are too tolerant and have to give your life a little rigor. And we know that virtue is in balance.

Emotional wounds

We don't heal a wound with a plaster. When we injure ourselves, the first thing we do is express our pain, and when we have calmed down, we clean the wound and heal it with the appropriate tools. We don't cover it and we don't forget it because we know it won't heal that way. And on top of that, we take care of the wound for a while until it heals at some point. The same thing happens with other types of wounds.

We all have emotional wounds. Emotional wounds are all those emotions, feelings, thoughts and behaviors that have arisen in us and in various painful moments in our lives that we have not yet overcome and accepted. We have become prisoners of our emotions and keep ourselves trapped in this fictional prison. We feel good again when we have transformed these feelings and made wisdom and experiences out of these ways of thinking, so that they serve as an impulse to heal ourselves.

Wounds as a reflection

As soon as we forget our wounds, they become part of our subconscious and affect our thoughts, moods and behaviors. A feeling of lack of love is slowly spreading inside us, which arose in our earliest childhood, but now becomes noticeable and / or comes out even more strongly if we do not heal it.

So it happens that we often find emptiness in our partner that is very similar to ours. And that is exactly what leads to our union. For example, two people who have suffered a lot because of love meet and discover that love does not mean suffering. This couple has bandaged the same wound. Both are the mirror image of the other. But we have to be careful here, because wounds that unite can also separate.

If both partners don't heal their wounds, sooner or later they will destroy the relationship. Insecurities, fears, jealousy or possessive behavior then emerge. It's like life is trying to hold up a mirror to us that shows us the path we need to walk in order to grow. If we do not analyze these reflections and disregard the information presented to us, we will not develop further or mature more slowly and our relationships will be more fragile. For this reason, our relationships with others - following mirror theory - can provide us with very useful information about ourselves and the state of these wounds, which we have not yet made part of our history.

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