#LUPA Day Nine: Mirror Image

(To read about and become a part of  #LUPA, start here.

Somewhere along my early 20’s I began to become depressed. Somewhere in my late 20’s, I began to learn how to cope with it in a way that made the depression come in cycles, so that I could proceed with my life. One of the most helpful tools that I acquired while attending USM in SoCal was identifying projections. How what you were seeing in others was actually a reflection of something that was going on inside of you. Projections became something I was identifying on a daily basis. My day would go something like this:

At 11:00 am I might call my mom and get annoyed because she cut me off while I was saying something important, only to then realize it was a projection of my own impatience when others are speaking and how I judge myself for doing that. 

At 1:25 pm my best friend was coming over for lunch, and I felt my heart burst with satisfying conversation, thinking about how great she is at communicating her feelings, only to then realize that was a projection of my own ability to convey my emotions and how useful I find that in others. 

At 5:32 pm I was watching Orange Is The New Black and I was getting angry at how Piper was making everything about herself, and then I realized that was a projection of how I had a very concentrated version of that tendency when I was a teenager, and how ever since I’ve been guiltily trying to change that about myself.

These are overly-simplified examples, but they’re all examples that allowed me to look into myself and forgive myself or give myself a high five for being awesome. Either way, coming face to face with those feelings were what freed me from things that had developed from the Blue Period of my 20’s; things like physical and social anxiety. 

Many times, the reason why I got social anxiety (I’d even say about 90% of the time) it stemmed from a fear of what I was going to project on to them (of course, I didn’t know that at the time, and even when I do know it, it’s still very tricky to apply at the moment. Logic isn’t something a brain with anxiety is very good at.) and how that was going to mirror back to me. 

There were three questions I asked myself when I began to feel social anxiety:

  1. How do I see myself? How am I relating to myself because of this?
  2. How do I think others see me? How am I relating to myself because of this? 
  3. How do I think my {family member} sees me? How am I relating to myself because of this?

It is really important we realize we can never know how others feel about us. Nor should we, as there is very little we can do to control it, so what’s the point? We can ask, and have a great idea, but there’s always whispers we don’t know –and don’t need to.

Asking myself these three questions made me realize that I was relating to myself differently depending on how I thought others were seeing me. And of course, my relation to myself immediately changed how I related to others. And my opinion of myself also changed depending on who I thought was doing the viewing. If I was projecting on my mom, for example, instead of a friend, it would be very different. 

Becoming aware of this and myself allowed me have more of a handle on how I was coming off to others because I was more at peace of how I was feeling, or I at least had a better understanding which permitted to relax and tell myself “it’s all in my head.”

So for today’s prompt it is one of the quintessential philosophical questions:

who are you?

Ask yourself the three questions, see what answers pop up. 

Take a picture that represents your proverbial selfie. 

Can’t wait to see you!

                                                                                                                         

                                                                      -xo!mj

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