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Monday, September 13, 2010

The mirroring effect

"We are entitled to receive what we are prepared to give"

We all want to be loved and accepted. To be in a good relationship, to get on with our peers and colleagues, to find that deep and meaningful life-changing love. To feel included, to be "in the group" and at one with those around us. To exist in peace with those who hold a place in our lives via both our intimate and non-intimate interactions.

When things do not go to plan in these relationship domains, rarely do we hold ourselves accountable for things not working out. In more cases than not we become resentful, jealous, spiteful, bitter; cognitively fighting situations which have not played out the way we believed they should have.

Angry at the lover who we feel has betrayed us; furious at friends who have not included us, aggressive towards colleagues who have not given us the respect we feel we deserve.

If you subscribe to the theory that all people who cross our life path do so in order to teach us the various lessons that we need to learn to move towards a higher level of consciousness, it can be argued that every one of these interactions simply develops as a way of teaching us that when it comes to relationships, we get what we give.

Generous people flourish when around other generous people, as do emotionally open individuals when they are teamed with other, equally as open partners. Pessimists build momentum when reinforced by other, equally as pessimistic people, while tight people, feel more comfortable with others who also prefer to keep a close handle on their wallets.

When key personal characteristics are unequal in any relationship, over time resentment will build, and eventually the relationship will crumble. Friends will eventually get sick of always making the effort, while lovers will tire of not being fed emotionally the way they need to. Employees will eventually become resentful enough to find another position while family members will become frustrated enough to stop making the effort they need to in order to keep the family together.

So, in instances of unfulfilled relationships, as psychiatrist Gordon Livingston so aptly stated, it may be useful to consider that......

"We are entitled to receive what we are prepared to give. That is why there is truth to the adage that we all get partners we deserve and why most of our dissatisfaction with others reflect limitations in ourselves"
and in fact, it may be time to look within and no longer speak of what others have done to us, as opposed to reflecting ourselves on what we have or have not given them.