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The Mirror Theory

The Mirror Theory

How to Handle Impossible People

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We can all think of a few people that we would describe as being "impossible." These are individuals who push the wrong buttons, irritate us to no end and annoy us whenever we talk to them. These are the people that we find arrogant, critical, and negative or possess some other character deficit. How do we handle impossible people?

The interesting thing is that we don't all find the same people hard to take. The guy that annoys me, doesn't bother my wife and the neighbor that she dreads talking to, I can communicate with easily. Why do these difficult people clash with some but not with others?

The Baal Shem Tov explained this with the "mirror theory." Why do these difficult people clash with some but not with others? He taught that when we look at others we are looking at a mirror. When we observe and analyze the behavior of other people we actually discover ourselves in them. The profile we create for others is shaped by our own personality.

None of us are perfect. We all have our deficiencies and areas of personality that are underdeveloped and need work. But we are often unaware of these deficits. Self love often causes us to be in denial, preventing us from resolving and correcting these weaknesses.

When we observe character defects in other people and criticize them, it is really the undeveloped parts of our personality that are showing up. We are only so irritated by these blemishes because the very same issues are unresolved within ourselves. My spouse might not have the same area of weakness, and therefore does not notice it in others.

When we see faults in others it can be used as an opportunity for self reflection. If we think someone is arrogant we can examine our own egos. If we describe someone as being unkind we can examine on our level of kindness, compassion and empathy. If our friend's judgmental nature bothers us we should think about how we view other people.

We should always endeavor to look at people in a positive light. But when it becomes difficult, it is an opportunity to look inwards.

Rabbi Michoel Gourarie lectures on a wide range of topics with a special emphasis on Personal Growth and Self Development, including self esteem, communication and relationship building. He is the director of "Bina" in Sydney, Australia.
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Discussion (14)
November 1, 2013
Mirror mirror on the wall, liar liar beware the flaw / fall

Perhaps too few who suck in the entire mirror theroy really take a look at the full image.

How many got to this site thinking that they don't have issues or baggage? We do and yes someone out there thinks we are "impossible".

What brought me here is not just finding ways to learn new skills but the acceptance that my daughters and I live with an Impossible Person. We can do no right, get yelled at made to feel stupid. Even the most subtle understanded whispers are snarky.


They have the ability to turn it all on you, you start thinking you're nuts
huf
August 13, 2013
I believe the mirror theory to a point, but something we have already overcome inside ourselves . This is more like been there, fixed it and moved on As for myself I do encounter situations with even family members like that. If is frustrating not to react, backing off is harder. But bottom line I have come to realize we have to fix ourselves. It is easier to recognize what has already been part of our life experience rather than what we read. Ever heard the expression."Life is the teacher and we are the students" that makes a lot of sense to me
Anonymous
August 8, 2013
Not always true
I always get annoyed when I see someone write stuff like this annoying blog post and expect everyone to just believe this little theory without thinking logically for themselves.

It's a nice theory, sure it "feels good' and "sounds right" but in reality anyone with a brain can see it's not always true..

Not every fault we see in others exists in ourselves. Sometimes we just plain see something we know is wrong in a person.. and it annoys us... that is not because we have the same traits... but rather because that person is just plain wrong.

So yeah, nice theory, but not a fact at all. There is right and wrong in the world, there is such a thing as morality, it's not just "our perspective" and not everything can be explained subjectively!
Anonymous
June 26, 2013
The impossible & controlling person
I have one impossible colleague here. She will even lie to get her way through. She is right and the rest is wrong.
Anonymous
Kuala Lumpur
April 28, 2011
Mirror
....would that I had the insight of Our Holy Elders, I could no doubt deal with the people who today are placed before me and attempt to exploit me and cheat me in business (because they are well practiced at cheating and I am naturally trusting, something my father regarded as a TERRIBLE FAULT!) but the fact is I do not have HOLY WISDOM to shield me from such people, and the best I can do is spot them from as great a distance as possible and have no traffic with them. I always hope something happens to repair them because they are increasing the amount of evil and misery in the world, not just in my life. And I have no miraculous things to say to them to bring them to a higher level of understanding.
hermine stover
Perris , CA
April 7, 2011
The name for mirror theory is PROJECTION.
My ex was one of these difficult people, always insulting me, etc. and I ended up crying. I found out that it was NOT that I was projecting my faults by mirroring his. It was the opposite. The REASON he was that way was he accused me of doing what he was doing, and I didn't understand it. Everything he accused me of, he was the one doing it. So, be careful of making these blanket answers. Sometimes, if someone is NASTY to you, it IS THEIR problem and not the fact you are perceiving them as a mirror. It could be they are HIDING something and are trying to throw you off their scent. That is also why sometimes people are mean only to you and not others. They particularly don't want you to know or suspect something. Another reason is they are bullies and picking on you because you are weak and that makes them feel stronger. It's like stepping on someone to raise yourself up. Why you and not others? Because you are a threat to that person. With my mom, Anon. in MD, she was such.
Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell
Riverside, CA, USA
April 29, 2010
mirror theory
Its a half truth and half lies statement..human character is based on the perspective of family up bringing..The way his family brought him up is how will his character shall become.
the family whose inputs are plenty of violence, negative insights and other destructive emotions could mold up a terrible character of a child that will later on develop into a bad habit that would results an introvert person.
Anonymous
antipolo city, Philippines
April 24, 2010
How to handle impossible people.
I agree with Hermine Stover,CA.
With these nasty persons I don´t want to enter into any kind of conversation.
I try to ignore their comments or actings or whatever makes me feel bad. I move to another place, I start conversation with other people. I take a book that´s good company. I make myself a cup of coffe. And so on.
Mrs. Luisa Zitzer
August 10, 2009
Mirror of Mother
I agree with this article, but I do think there are times when someone is truly so self-involved that they get on many people's nerves, especially those who have to be around them more often. My mother is this way. She is persistently negative, complains about most things, rarely takes responsibility for her problems, and expects others to just "deal" with her. I am the complete opposite and I try to help my mother because it is my resonsibility as her child to be there for her, but I definitely don't think I mirror her. Any thoughts?
Anonymous
Odenton, MD
August 2, 2009
Is it possible to discover faults in yourself by reflecting on your reaction and behavior when around that person? So, the qualities you dislike or do not agree with are not mirror images but rather a way to see some other area of work in yourself?
Anonymous
lakeland, tn
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