What We See in Others is a Reflection of Ourselves

Cute image of an orange tabby kitten with a reflection of him in water

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You may have heard it before, but it is such a strong statement:  “We can only see things within others that we see within ourselves.”  I think this is one of the most challenging spiritual lessons we are here to learn.  When I first read this statement in a spiritual book many years ago, it seemed very odd to me.  Like most people, my first response was, “Surely, I do not act like a lot of people who annoy me and push my buttons.”   Interestingly, I find that when I facilitate spiritual classes, this statement typically elicits the same response from most others.



Everyone you meet is your mirror.  Why is that?



We come to understand ourselves best through our relationships with other people. We can only be triggered by something we have experienced ourselves. The traits we tend to dislike in others are usually the traits we do not like about ourselves.  We then tend to judge and criticize these characteristics.  This calls to mind the analogy of pointing a blaming finger at someone.  One finger is pointing at another person, and three are pointing back to ourselves.



When certain characteristics in someone’s personality trigger a negative reaction from you, there is something within you that is coming up because it is ready to be healed.  Usually, it represents issues from your past that have gone unresolved. An example of this would be constantly attracting people who betray you in close relationships because you have not dealt with a parental abandonment issue from your past. What you are seeing is a manifestation of your belief that you cannot trust anyone with your feelings. Here is another example:  You are someone who has a constant need to prove to others that you are “right.”  Chances are you will attract people who strongly disagree with you because they also have the need to convince others to see life from their perspective.  Also, if you dislike controlling people, most likely you dislike some bossy tendencies within yourself.



Every person we meet in life is showing up at the perfect time in our lives to reflect something we need to heal within ourselves. The people with whom you interact are showing you who you are and ultimately providing you with an opportunity to love yourself. Since our mission is to discover what we don’t love and learn to love it, the people who get on our nerves the most are among our greatest teachers.



When you find yourself triggered by a person or situation, ask yourself the following questions: 




    •    “What is this person teaching me that I need to learn to become more whole?” 


    •    “Do I behave like this now?”


    •    “Did I behave like this in the past?”



Believe it or not, forgiving YOURSELF is the most effective way to disengage from negative interactions with people.  We can only love and accept others to the degree that we love and accept ourselves.  When you make it a habit to learn from your relationships, eventually you will discover that you can observe negative traits within others without judgment and without getting hooked into someone else’s drama.  If you discover that you are in a relationship with someone who habitually abuses you in some way, it is sometimes healthy to limit your exposure to that person or to avoid their company completely.  This serves you well only after you have embraced the lessons that you have seen reflected to you through the relationship, followed by choosing to forgive yourself and the other person.



The good news is that the desirable behaviors we see in others is also a reflection of ourselves.  When we predominantly choose thoughts of love, we live in a reality of love.  In other words, as we focus on our light within, we bring out the light within others.



We came to this earth to return to the remembrance that we are ONE. Everyone we meet has come into our path to help us to remember this.



Do you find it challenging to believe that what you see in others is a reflection of you?  I welcome your thoughts.



Love and Light,



19 thoughts on “What We See in Others is a Reflection of Ourselves

  1. So, thanks for this enlightenment. Since I came across this statement, I have been reading much about it in order to fully grasp the concept. I am still unable to fully understand it. Thanks for further making it clearer.

    However, could you please help me know these few things my relationships with others are teaching me? Still unable to get the clear picture:

    1) I am a university graduate. I met a woman I did not know much about and marry her. She told me she reached a certain level in school. But after staying with her for few days, I discover she could not even read and write well. I loathe this and feeling very uncomfortable with her. Now, why did I get attracted to this woman?

    2) I often tell (or say to myself about) people: my wife for example, that they are stupid. Does this mean I am stupid too? I loathe or condemn them for being stupid (though most often I will not say it to the person).

    3) To one of my colleague, I dislike her talking to much. I consider her as a great talkative. What is she teaching me?

    And 4) I have a very close friend. I consider her as less religious. She never says her prayers. Though I am not too bothered, but I will have liked it much more if she was prayerful. What is she teaching me?

    Thank you very much.

  2. Thanks for writing this blog. It captures my understanding of myself and others perfectly.
    I’ve shared it within my “World Peace” community. With over 3000 members I hope many more will take the time to read these words of wisdom.
    Once again, many thanks,

    Michael Valentine

  3. Hi, I love your article thank you so much. I’ve learned about the mirror concept, but I am looking to learn more….can you share the name of the book in which you first read about it, or any other book?



    • Dear Carmen: I am glad to hear that you enjoy the mirror concept – which is highly effective in transforming belief systems about self. You may want to read “You Can Heal Your Life,” by Louise Hay, a pioneer author in the field of spiritual healing. She discusses mirroring in great length. Namaste, Sandra

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  6. At first I thought the statement was an irony. But upon deeper contemplation, I realized it is a paradox.
    We are said to be living in a dimension of duality, meaning, with our God-given free will we can be at any point in the number line of a particular quality like loving and caring. We can have complete absence of it (negative scale) or we can have a lots of it (positive scale) towards others. When we are able to exercise the quality towards others regardless of how others treat us, then we are at the zero point. At that point we love and care for all. As long as we have a preference or dislike towards others, we are not at the zero point and are not yet one with the Creator. When we hate something, it means we have not reached a point of neutrality or total acceptance of others regardless.

    • First, I am so glad I opened this article. I found it to be very strengthening and eye opening. I found myself having a few “Aha moments” … Very thought provoking for me. I needed to hear it and it was at a perfect time in my life.
      Then second, I read your comment. Again, so glad I opened this article. Although I had to read and re read your comment I was able finally allowing myself to actually letting it in. Another brilliant statement that was thought provoking for me as well..
      So, a huge thank you to everyone in here. I feel I have awakened something inside me today from reading through this. I will be sharing in hopes this can reach someone else too!
      Thank you, Nicole

  7. Thank you for writing this article. It was a real “Aha Moment” for me allowing myself to better understand not only just myself rather about others too. Very enlightened!

  8. Thank you ever so kindly for this 🙂 Perfect timing! I was reading it and just it is all so true. It’s awesome to come to this realisation. But very true indeed.

  9. Hi! Great article, thanks for sharing. Can you explain the “reason” that makes this phenomena possible? Like, describe specifically how mind “works” in relationships in order to make this possible … I’m super-curious and interested in understanding this.. ????????

  10. Could you please tell me if we attract someone in our life for the lesson…how do we tell if it is us that has attracted them or they that have attracted us…or is it both. I have someone in my life that is disrespectful of me and. I can see the lessons it must teach me, however in certain circumstances this person acts so childish with temper tantrums like a two year old that do not reflect any part of me…I can go without things and I’m really good with compromise yet this person if things are not exactly as he wants them he will stomp and moan and then throw everything about it away..in a if I can’t have my way I don’t want it at all attitude and he is also a blamer.. everything that goes wrong in his life is someone elses fault. Many times I sit in confusion over this yet I have become emotionally detached from his antics to get his own way…and then comes the question again who is in who’s life and for what purpose..and who reflects who..how do we know?

  11. I can cry. I’m excited that I found your website. I ask a lot of questions and I’m so grateful to have found this because this is confirmation for me. I always would say that we are one; and I TRULY BELIEVE that. It feels so good knowing that I am on the right path. Thank you. I wish you love, laughter, joy, and happiness.

  12. Well put. It is exactly as you describe it. By practicing this in my everyday life brings me strength, calmness and a wonderful centering…

  13. Wow, thanks Sandra! This really opened up some new perspectives for me. Anytime I am triggered, I will use this as a tool to improve myself.

    Much love,

  14. Thank you for such inspirational materials and for your ability to sumup or to simplify seemingly impossible, paradoxical complexities for the reader. It is truly astounding how you manage to achieve such in-depth learning for the readers. Introspective learning is perhaps the most important form of understanding anybody can ever achieve. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
    Namaste~ jonathan

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