The mirror theory: wounds and relationships

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Robert Maurer

The mirror theory: wounds and relationships

Last update: April 07, 2022

Have you ever wondered what happens when we connect with another person, but a short time later we discover aspects of her that we don't like? Jacques Lacan's mirror theory helps us understand this phenomenon.

According to the author, the construction of our personal identity is produced through the reception of ourselves in others. In this way, the relationships we maintain with others are reflections or projections of aspects of our personality that we like or dislike.  

What does the mirror theory say?

Just as there are parts of our body and image that we don't like when we look in the mirror, we don't accept some aspects of our personality either. We find in others certain reflections that we do not like, since it is all the material repressed by our unconscious.

In some way, therefore, we find some of the characteristics that we like less than the others in us, even if in symbolic form. What we dislike about others is partly also what we dislike about ourselves.

We continuously project a part of us. The theory of the mirror, therefore, is a vision that proposes a different approach: to protect ourselves from others so that they do not hurt us as a result of a vision from which a question arises: "Why am I living this situation with this person and what is in me what I can't stand in her? ”.

Since we are generally unable to see our shadows and even our virtues, life gives us relationships to show us directly what resides in us. The other person only acts as a mirror for us, reflecting our image and giving us the opportunity to find ourselves.

Direct or reverse mirror

The mirror theory can act directly or inversely. Let's take an example: imagine you can't stand the selfishness of your partner or friend. Perhaps you are projecting the part of you that is selfish and that you reject. If he acts differently, this person may reflect how little you value your interests. Maybe you always pay attention to others and put them in front of your person. In one way or another, it is providing you with very useful information for your knowledge and growth.

Maybe you think your boss is too demanding of you. Perhaps you too are very demanding and perfectionists with yourself and your boss is nothing more than a reflection of this self-imposed need. Conversely, maybe you are too tolerant and need a little rigor in your life. We already know that virtue is found in balance.

Emotional wounds

You don't cure everything with a band-aid. When we injure ourselves, we first of all express our pain and only after calming down do we proceed to clean the wound and heal it with the necessary tools.. We don't cover it up and forget about it, because we know it won't heal. Furthermore, we check the wound for some time until it has completely healed. The same happens with other types of wounds.

We have all suffered more than one emotional wound, emotions, feelings, thoughts and ways of acting that arose in one or several painful moments in our life and that we have overcome and accepted. We have become prisoners of these emotions by keeping them in a fictitious prison. Our well-being comes from the transformation of these emotions and these ways of thinking into wisdom and experience, so that they serve as an impetus to overcome ourselves.

Wounds as a reflex

When we forget our wounds, they end up becoming part of our unconscious influencing our thoughts, moods and behaviors. Our interior begins to be inhabited by affective deficiencies that originated at an early age, but which wake up and / or become stronger.

On many occasions, therefore, we see shortcomings in our partner that are very similar to ours and this is what brings about the union. For example, two people who have suffered a lot for love meet and discover that love is not suffering; this couple was united by the same wound. Both act as a reflex. But we must proceed carefully, because the wounds that unite can also separate.

If the two partners do not heal their wounds, they will sooner or later begin to deteriorate the relationship. Insecurity, fear, jealousy, possessiveness… It is as if life were trying to send reflections that mark the way to grow. If we don't analyze them and ignore the information they give us, we won't grow - or we do it slower - and our relationships will be more fragile. For this reason, the bonds we maintain with others, according to the mirror theory, can bring us very useful information about ourselves and the state of these wounds that we have not yet integrated into our history.   

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