A few years ago I read a book called The Mirror Theory by Betsy Thompson. In that book, Thompson suggests that attract people into our lives because they provide both a mirror and a lens through which we can see something about ourselves we subconsciously don’t like and want to “fix.” The neat thing about the theory is that it works both ways. In other words, we attract to ourselves those who are the mirrors we need while at the exact same time being the mirrors they need.
For example, I have a friend I’ll call “Tony” and lately Tony and I have been getting into some pretty heated discussions about religion and politics. (I know, you’re probably not surprised about those two topics getting heated.) Just to set the stage for the rest of this post, you need to know that we have often had to agree to disagree in order to preserve our friendship.
So…in the context of the mirror theory…
As Tony continues to assume that I will be judgmental, the mirror reflects Tony’s judgmental attitude. As Tony continues to exhibit a prejudice about Christians, the mirror reflects a prejudice against Christians. As Tony continues to assume I’ll push my “religion,” the mirror reflects Tony’s willingness to push a lack of religion. To me, it’s a fascinating dynamic as Tony refuses to acknowledge that I’m simply on my own path and not interested in converting anyone else. In fact, it’s almost amusing to watch Tony insist on the one hand that organized religion (which I don’t want) is harmful, while insisting on the other hand that participation in weekly services is needed to make sure the kids are brought up in the right religion.
And the flipside to the coin – Tony’s a perfect mirror for me as well. Tony’s political beliefs drive me up the wall, quite candidly. They don’t seem to be well thought out; they seem to be simply a robotic regurgitation of “the party line.” And guess who realized he does the same thing. If you guessed me, you’re absolutely right. And the more I think about it, the more I realize I’ve just adopted a set of beliefs and stopped thinking about whether or not they make sense. In essence, I’m now just regurgitating the party line. Which means, I’ve got some thinking to do…my long held beliefs might be completely useless now.
Who are the mirrors in your life? What do you learn about yourself when you take the time to look at and through those lenses? I’d love to learn from you and get a tiny bit better again. (And Thanks! to Tony.)