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Looking in the Mirror

Recently in some of my circles, the conversation has turned to discussions of what word or concept we each want to focus on in 2024.  In years past, mine has been simplicity; I prefer things to be simple and uncomplicated wherever possible.  This year, I’ve been considering a focus on “Zen” or “peace”. But I’ve realized that before I can find my Zen, I must look inward and find out why I am often annoyed with others and even with myself!  I have some work to do!

We all know people with habits that we find annoying. But why do we let these habits bother us?  It was Carl Jung who said, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves”.  There’s is profound wisdom in that statement.  When someone annoys us, is it possible that we are annoyed because it’s a behavior we have not fully acknowledged or accepted in ourselves?  It’s a simple concept, but this reflection can be a tool for self-discovery and personal growth.

For example, imagine being constantly annoyed by someone’s procrastination. On the surface, it seems like their inaction or delayed action is the issue. But if you look deeper, is it possible that your irritation is a reflection of your own struggle with time management, a fear of missing deadlines or starting something hard? Is it possible that your strong reaction is founded in the areas in your own life that need some attention or improvement?  That’s not to suggest that there is always a direct reflection, context or that circumstances are always a factor, but, it’s worth considering the possibility, looking in your own mirror and asking yourself the question.

There is no doubt that engaging in this form of self-reflection requires courage and honesty, and sometimes the hardest person to be honest with is yourself. This type of self-reflection requires deep exploration into why we react the way we do, including considering past experiences, our beliefs, values, and circumstances.  By exercising and strengthening our self-awareness through this self-study, we improve our understanding of ourselves and in doing so, our understanding of others. In other words, we understand why we become annoyed, and once we do, we may learn to be more patient and…. find our Zen. 😊

In a world where it’s easy to point fingers and much harder to look inward, embracing the idea that our irritations with others can reflect ourselves is a powerful step towards self-growth and emotional maturity. It’s a journey that requires ongoing effort and honesty, but that will enrich us and improve our relationships.  At the very least, it provides us with another tool to remove some of our stressors and introduce more calm into our lives.

So, when you find yourself irritated, take a moment to reflect – it might just be an opportunity to discover something valuable about yourself.

“The world is a great mirror. It reflects back to you what you are.” – Thomas Dreier

Have a great weekend.