What Annoys You and What You Hate About Others is Your Own Reflection

Kolyanne Russ
Jan 17, 2018 · 5 min read
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“And here’s the surprising truth: As you gaze at yourself in the mirror held by another, you will see far more than your flaws. You also will see the beauty that is uniquely you; beauty that others see clearly and you may hardly know exists. That is also part of the truth about you.” ― Steve Goodier

A few years back, I used to have a friend whom I shared many common interested with. She was also kind and passionate — the more strongly she feels about something, the more she waves her hands around. I loved the way she giggles at inappropriate jokes, and the way her eyes tear up when she’s truly happy.

Though we’re pretty close, somehow her insecurities and some of her habits bother me a lot.

She was a beautiful human being, yet something about her ruffled my feathers.

We were two of the same; what I disliked about her, I disliked about myself.

She was my hardest learned lesson on mimicking and mirroring, a challenging study on those obsessive feelings of hatred that I have for everyone who’s broken like me.

In those feelings, I am not alone. I know this because from talking to others, I learned that they have experienced them too.

But, if in others we hate our own likeness, shouldn’t that help us understand ourselves better? Could that be a path towards introspection? And, ultimately, self-improvement?

Could we study those we find repulsive to find out what is good in us, and how?

Everyone Is Your Mirror

When I decided to take a step back and took a deeper look into my friend, this was what I saw:

Insecurities and low self-esteem make us ugly.

Our social anxieties prevent us from enjoying the beauty in both ourselves and others.

When I noticed the way she dwelled in these areas of life, not only that I felt sad but I realized what I actually see is my own reflection.

Self-reflection was one of Herman Hesse’s favorite literary themes. In 1919’s Demian, a story of struggle between youthful ideals and truth that ultimately resolves in realization of one’s self, the author wrote:

“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself”.

This is just one of many things that Hesse was right about.

When somebody hates homosexuals, we call that person a homophobe. Still, the term itself doesn’t imply hate, nor does it refer to any particular kind of dislike. Phobias are fears, nothing less and nothing more. Homophobes hate other people’s sexual orientation because they are afraid of their own, deeply hidden homosexual tendencies.

Another brilliant author, Debbie Ford, explains the phenomena in a poignant way:

“We see only that which we are. I like to think of it in terms of energy. Imagine having a hundred different electrical outlets on your chest. Each outlet represents a different quality. “The qualities we acknowledge and embrace have cover plates over them. They are safe; no electricity runs through them. “But the qualities that are not okay with us, which we have not yet owned, do have a charge. So when others come along who act out one of these qualities they plug right into us.”

The imperfections in other people that trigger us the most are the imperfections we loath in ourselves.

Because they are mostly repressed, studying our hatred towards these people can help us come clean with who we actually are.

Thanks to my friend’s low self-esteem, I’ve come to embrace and deal with mine.

It was Carl Jung who said it first: “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves”.

Everyone is our mirror.

Our own reflection in others shows us not only who we are, but also how to be better.

Most of the Times, We Hold Others to a Standard We Impose on Ourselves

My beautiful, insecure friend wasn’t the only one who inspired me to change.

I remember working with one of the directors who would show up at work at 7AM every day, and left the office exactly at 10PM. She wasn’t just ambitious; she was relentless to both herself and those around her. Needless to say, she hated everyone who wasn’t.

Including me.

Though I was one of the hardest working people in the office, in her eyes I was lazy.

What I’ve learned from her is that we often hold others to a standard we impose on ourselves.

That fly in the ointment that spoils your otherwise perfect relationship with someone and makes you point finger at them is probably the same one that spoils your self-image.

When you’re judgmental of somebody else, you’re actually judgmental of yourself.

If someone pushes your buttons, it may be because they represent something that you despise or fear about yourself.

As we encounter new people and interact with them, we unravel our own weaknesses and strengths.

Their flaws reflect ours, and allow us to accept them.

And, it isn’t until we do that we can start fixing them for the better.

Start with Yourself

Hatred is often blind, because we choose not to see.

But when we stop and peek at what’s behind it, we learn.

When you see somebody you hate, you see two things — your current self and your future self.

It’s a unique chance to understand what stands in your way to self-realization.

Do you see indifference? Or senselessness? Perhaps it’s stubbornness that gets you the most? Whatever it is, the imperfection that makes you hate another human being is the imperfection that prevents you from being your best, happiest, and most fulfilled self.

It’s good that you see it now.

It means that your deepest fears have unearthed at last. They are finally real and palpable, and you can finally do something about them. Take another look at the person that irritates you, and extend your compassion. That’s you embracing your own flaws.

The only way to make peace with yourself is to acknowledge them all.

Change or Not to Change?

The people you dislike are the surface of the sea on a windless day — they don’t just reflect who you are at the moment, but also let you see the person you want to become.

Will you stay ignorant of the mirror image?

Or, will you learn to own it?


Let’s Connect Deeper

If you resonate with this article, please subscribe to my personal blog Pinch of Attitude. You’ll get a weekly newsletter with exclusive content where I share my life lessons so we can be better together. If you are ready, I’m here ready to assist you.

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