One morning, just like every week day morning, at the sound the cellphone alarm I woke up, reached for my phone, rubbed my eyes and dragged my weary body out of bed. I went straight to the kitchen, as I always do, and made myself a hot cup of coffee. Once I was done draining the cup of the last drop, I went straight to the bathroom to take a shower. As I shut the bathroom door behind me, I looked in the mirror, looked away, and then did a double take. With a puzzled facial expression I leaned in towards the mirror to take a closer look at myself only to realize that the sclera of my eyes were pinkish red in color.
Instantly I became crippled with fear. With accelerated heart rate I tried to think hard and fast about my options and remembered I had some eye drops which I proceeded to administer the recommended amount into each eye. I ran to the mirror every 2 minutes after the application to see if my eyes had improved any and thankfully, over the course of thirty minutes to an hour, they began to look normal again. Whew! That was scary! I thought. But then I wondered, what could have caused that? I reflected on all that I had done that morning and remembered that I had rubbed my eyes with my fingers as soon as I woke up and had experienced a slight burning sensation but did not think much of it. This was not the first time I had done this but unknowingly, I was introducing allergens into my eyes and it finally caught up with me that particular morning. If I had no mirrors in my apartment, I could have easily stepped out without knowing the irritable effects rubbing my eyes with my fingers as soon as I woke up, was having on me and would not have had the opportunity to apply a solution to adjust the effects of the problem.
Mirror Mirror on the Wall
A mirror serves as a useful resource for receiving information about our external details, which can be quite resourceful in making the necessary adjustments in becoming more presentable to self and to others. But what about the internal aspects that a literal mirror cannot detect? During this time I was still working on my Interpersonal Communications class when I was given the assignment to do some self-reflection. Not only was I to do this exercise on my own, but I was to also seek out someone with whom I trusted to give me their honest take on who they saw me to be.
Besides the day to day revelation of what brought me joy and what annoyed every cell of my being, I’d never considered the value in asking anyone, even my closest friends, to be my self-reflective mirror and to tell me what they thought about me as an individual. This was not the easiest question to ask no matter how comfortable I was with someone possibly because of pride. I’ve always seen myself as someone who made conscious efforts to do the right thing and any opinion that was not parallel to this was to be thrown out. At least that was what I believed for a long time.
Task at Hand
So for the sake of getting the assignment done, I chose one person that I spent much of my time with during the week and decided to ask for their feedback in how they perceived me. I also made sure that I was ready for what I was about to hear. Posing the question made them uncomfortable which ultimately made me uncomfortable. Due to their concern about the possibility of a damaged friendship, I reassured them that this was very important for my self-development and I am fully vested in receiving the feedback no matter what it was going to be. In other words, I needed them to be my self-reflective mirror. As they got more comfortable with the idea, I received careful and honest feedback. Upon reflecting on their responses, I had come to the harsh realization that one of the blind spot in my personality is that I am not inclined to giving people the benefit of the doubt for falling short. This is not to say that being naïve and ignoring the negative behavioral patterns of others are a good idea either. Both can be equally as destructive. My problem however was that as soon as the action of someone rubbed me wrong, I had already served on a silver platter all the negatives I could think of about how they felt about me and the kind of person they must be. It did not come naturally to me to put myself in the person’s shoe to think of all the explainable and excusable reasons why they had to “disappoint me”. Something about my past experiences and possibly cultural upbringing had wired me to think the worst of people first. Coming to this understanding has allowed me to find one loop hole so far in my perspective of situations and of people.
When I look in mirrors, my view is limited no matter the angle and dimension of the mirror. So it is with seeing all my innate qualities. People experience me differently than I experience myself. While feedback may not necessarily be actual facts about what my identity is, as I believe they are grounded in who God says I am, I now have a clear understanding of how others may decode some parts of who I present myself to be that are completely blind to me. More importantly, this opportunity has bulldozed me into becoming better at perceiving things in new and insightful ways and being open to receiving feedback rather than being defensive. While I believe I have convictions about some of the things I’ve done incorrectly and some people will try to be fault finders no matter how outstanding my efforts may be, allowing myself a fair opportunity to evaluate and self-reflect is critically important in gaining an understanding of who I am and how I am relating to others. It is here, in my humble opinion, that a next level perspective which is the theme of my blogs, begins.
When we become aware of who we are, strengths and weaknesses alike, we are better positioned in understanding our own perceptions and even that of others. We are unique individuals and are made up of our culture, experiences, upbringing amongst so many other different factors. In order to adjust my vantage point, I had to become willing to not necessarily change who I am as an individual, unless of course it is for the best, but I had to allow myself the opportunity to see through the reflective eyes of others and to spend more time reflecting on my own personality which, let’s be honest, is a lifelong journey.
I challenge you today to make a list of things you see yourself to be. Here are a few questions you can possibly use to guide your self-reflection:
- What are your strongest qualities?
- How have you capitalized on these qualities?
- What do you believe are your weakest qualities?
- How will you work to improve on these qualities?
- How do you believe others perceive you?
- Have you had disagreements with anyone lately?
- What have you learned from these disagreements?
Then think of someone you can trust to give you honest feedback about how they perceive you. This is not a comprehensive list of questions as there are so many others that can encourage and guide your self-reflection. My goal is to encourage you, as was done for me, to take some time to reflect and to learn about who you are. In getting to understand your unique make up, you may become more aware of how you perceive things. We will come across many different situations, but I do find that an understanding of who we are will help navigate how we handle those moments and the potential outcomes. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic so please leave your feedback and comments below. See you guys in the next blog post. Have a blessed week!
Last updated: November 6, 2021