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I can’t believe it took me 37 years of my life to fully come to the understanding that I have been creating my self-identity and my life around other people’s behavior, thoughts, and feelings about me.
This is called “the broken mirror effect”—when we look into another human, we sometimes unconsciously try to look for ourselves in them.
What we see in them as a sum of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors toward us, we accumulate as accurate information about who we truly are. We do this, not realizing that we are trying to understand who we are based on how they are usually treating us.
If someone (and this happens a lot in our romantic relationships) treats us with unavailability, coldness, and distance, we try to translate that as information about us. As a result, we might start thinking and believing,“I am not good enough,” “Perhaps I am not lovable,” or “I am not trying enough; I need to try harder to make them love me.”
The hard truth to swallow is this: our self-identity and self-image are f*cked up, and this image we create of ourselves is not the truth of who we really are. Why?
Because what and who we think we are is most of the time an accumulation of our ego-identity—an identity we begin creating as a child through our family conditioning and dynamics.
We carry that specific identity into our adulthood, not being able to differentiate between our “autopilot” narrative that was imprinted in us as kids by the adults around us, and our core essence—who we truly are.
Some of us remain stuck forever in that limited self-identity. Some break through it and come to the other side as transformed and whole human beings that don’t need to use others as mirrors in order to create their self-identity.
The broken mirror effect is what keeps most of us in unhealthy partnerships, friendships, jobs, habits, and lifestyles.
As humans, we have the tendency to become habituated with what we know, or rather, what we think we know we are.
Then life becomes a circle of attracting the same experiences that shaped us in the early years of our lives.
That means we are trapped in a mental narrative that does not belong to us—and most of us would feel lost without it, because it has become part of our self-identity.
Breaking through identities that others imprinted on us is the first step toward inner liberation and inner freedom. Freedom to choose again and again and to create our new identity based on our own understanding of self, through self-exploration, self-discovery, and self-knowledge.
One way of breaking through and away from the broken mirrors is taking responsibility for how our life is, how we feel about ourselves—and why, and start taking clear steps toward our inner and outer transformation, instead of wasting more time in pointing fingers to those who kind of “damaged” us as kids.
Another important way to break through the broken mirror effect is: choice.
We need to understand that we are not victims of our realities and we have the power of choice. We can make new choices every single moment.
We start choosing instead of having the victimhood mindset.
We start taking new decisions out of what we choose to be and the way we live our lives.
These steps or ways of breaking through come easily once we realize we are creating our reality most of the time based on what others reflect back to us, and that instead of questioning their behavior, we take that as real information about who we are and where we are heading in life.
What others think and feel and how they behave has nothing to do with who we are, and all to do with who they are and where they are at in their lives.
We attract certain kinds of people that feel familiar to our old family dynamics.
But we have the choice to step out of our conditioning and break free by learning to trust ourselves, choosing differently every single day, and making new decisions based on what we truly want to be and how we want to live our dream lives. This is what will give us a new foundation upon which we can build a new identity—as we choose to.
And as we follow these steps, many things and people will fall out of our lives.
Let those broken mirrors go.
They don’t reflect the real you.
They reflect the old you. The child in you. The wounded you. The conditioned you.
Choose differently this time.
Choose to build a new self-identity that sustains you and who you authentically feel you are at your core.
Broken mirrors will then fade away, as you become whole unto yourself.
Then you will be able to look at yourself in another whole mirror who reflects a whole you.