I have spent the last two posts talking about my all-time favorite “mentoring manual,” as I like to call it.
This short piece, composed by an author whose name remains unknown, and entitled simply, “Rules for Being Human,” has done more to reassure and strengthen me for the journey yet ahead than probably any other single piece of literature I have ever read (and I LOVE to read).
For some reason, I started the discussion going backwards, so after reviewing and discussing rules 10, 9, and 8 in previous posts, respectively, in this post we now arrive at Rule #7, which states:
Others are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.
Ever since I first read this, I have forgotten it numerous times. But I have always been reminded again, in so many different ways. I spent 9 days in Los Angeles earlier this year in master mentor Byron Katie’s “School for the Work,” where the principle lesson we spent 12 to 15 hours per day learning was just this.
My own book, Beating Ana, spends a good 236 pages (yes, that is the exact same number of pages in the book) discussing nothing less nor more than this, albeit in the context of relating to a mentor, mentee, or both.
Yet still I find it oh-so-hard to remember this. And because of this, I am still being continually reminded.
I forget so frequently because I find it emotionally stressful and challenging to catch myself thinking less-than-flattering thoughts about someone else’s driving, someone else’s wardrobe, someone else’s communication style, et al, only to have to then turn those thoughts back around to find the source of my dislike within me.
I would really much prefer – as would most of us, I suspect – that the hatred is simply about THEM, what THEY are doing, how THEY are acting, and how unacceptable it all is if THEY could only see that.
Similarly, when it comes to love, the lesson gets tougher and more emotionally impactful still.
When I meet a new friend and become completely enamored of everything about them, and then they leave and I think I have “lost” that source of joy along with their departing footsteps, it literally pains me physically, emotionally, and spiritually to have to recall that I can go within at any time and find what I have loved so well on the outside in my insides too.
I don’t want to believe it is “in here” because losing it “out there” feels so painful.
This is why learning to love your reflection made the “top 10″ list in “Rules for Being Human”, and also why it is one of the core lessons of any great teaching system the world over, and also why every mentee attempts to learn it at the feet of their mentor, and every mentor attempts to pass it along to their mentee in turn.
Without it, our experience of “being human” is at best – and worst – incomplete.
We look at the lovely – or dreadful – elements in the panorama spreading out before us, entirely missing the big picture itself, and not perceiving how, without the dreadful, the lovely wouldn’t be so lovely, and without the lovely, the dreadful wouldn’t serve us as such clear road markers to find our way back to the lovely again.
Today’s Takeaway: Where have you been giving yourself permission to direct your love or hate “out there”, cutting yourself out of your own life, and leaving you feeling powerless about your ability to change what you don’t like and enhance what you do? Today, start to factor yourself back in. Notice how what you love or hate on your outsides is a necessary and very helpful reflection of equal parts love or hate in your insides. Discover this new knowledge and use it to heal what you need to heal and enjoy what is there for you to enjoy in your own life.
Photo by Bjorkur Sigurbjornsson, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.
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Last reviewed: 4 Oct 2011