We all have the occasional rocky relationship. But if we seem to be constantly dogged by difficult people, it might be time to turn inwards.

Relationships can be our most faithful teachers and can reveal to us our truest self. They do this by being our mirrors—in the reflection of contentious relationships we are able to see our own inner conflicts.

Warning: Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear.

On the most basic level, when we look into the face of our friends and colleagues, we see ourselves.

But what about that annoying snob who always makes me feel “this” big? I might be nurturing my own cherished snobbery, the one crouching behind a defense mechanism or two.

What about that person who always insults me? I might put people down too, if only in my mind, and I might have a hard time recognizing this because I feel it is so justified—after all, the people I put down, deserve to be put down. Right?

What about the person who is always angry? Am I angry or passive-aggressive or irritated? I might even provoke anger in order that someone else becomes my surrogate tantrummer, having the outburst for me.

No, this isn’t absolutely always the case. However, if we’re honest, this is often the case. Sometimes, when someone’s pushing your buttons, you might think: There is no way I am so (choose one) picky, angry, intolerant, judgmental, selfish, untruthful, etc.

But let twenty minutes pass. Or an hour. Or a day. And reflect.

What you discover might surprise you.

Based on the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov