Mirroring is a phenomenon essential to a child’s development; appropriate mirroring encourages children to self-reflect and build a healthy sense of self. When children see from their caregivers that they are seen and their feelings and emotions are accurately reflected back, children learn to validate and accept the feelings and emotions they experience. Unfortunately not all children receive a consistent mirroring and this can result in a lack of understanding and awareness of one self. An example of a lack of accurate mirroring is that, if we grew up to a critical parent, constantly being criticised, we learn to see ourselves through a critical lens (or mirror) and believe that is who we are. In therapy, we learn to recognise the distortion and see ourselves for who we truly are.
As a transpersonal psychotherapist I often use myths and symbols in sessions to help clients get to a deeper understanding of their unconscious world. In this blog, I like to share with you a myth which speaks of a journey of how through being seen truthfully, led a little girl to her authentic self.
The land of no mirrors
by Erin Lo
Once upon a time there was a land of no mirrors. The only way for the people of this land to know they were loved, was through the amount of applause they received when doing their own special performances. The louder the applause, the more loved they felt. Unfortunately, not everyone had the courage to perform, and those people disappeared into the shadow. But the ones that could perform tried hard to win over the hearts of the people, because that was the only way for them to know they were loved in the land of no mirrors.
One day, a very special baby girl was born in the land of no mirrors. She was special because she was gifted with the talent to dance and the courage to perform. The baby girl grew up knowing she was special because she always managed to win over the crowd with her dance. Doing her special dance was the only way for her to be seen. She learnt that the more she performed, the better she was as a person, so she grabbed every opportunity she could to get the applause she needed to validate herself. The clapping from the crowd made her feel worthy because in the land of no mirrors, the only way for her to know she was loved was through the amount of applause she received.
One day, after receiving yet another big round of applause, she could hear a voice whispering in her ears: “There must be more to life than this.”
“Are you saying I could be loved by more people?” This thought excited her and it made her feel unsettled. She knew she needed more. So one day, she decided to go on a journey to seek bigger and louder applause.
Along the way, she performed for the people she met in order to be seen and get the boost of love she needed. But slowly, she grew tired of the journey, because no matter how much applause she received, it wasn’t any louder than the ones before. She was not feeling the love she thought she would feel. Her insecurity came creeping in, and she became self-conscious: “Maybe my performances aren’t good enough anymore,” she thought to herself. But despite feeling doubtful, she continued to dance because she knew she couldn’t survive without applause and love. “Perhaps there is another way? Perhaps there is more to life than this?” She asked herself.
One day she came across a poster on the village wall, a competition was being held to win the applause of the oldest man in the land who was blind! “This is my chance, if I could made the blind old man clap, there would be no one in this land who wouldn’t love me! I must come up with the best dance routine ever!” She said to herself in excitement.
Finally, after weeks of practice and anticipation, the day of the competition arrived and the little girl gave the best performance of her life. Nothing. There was nothing forthcoming from the blind old man. The little girl froze. All kinds of emotions came rushing in: unworthy, shame, not good enough, small, unloved. “What was I thinking?! How stupid have I been to think I could win over the blind old man with my dance?” Then suddenly, the blind old man held up a mirror, and for the first time ever, the little girl could see herself. She was stunned by her own beauty. She fell in love. In that moment she realised the love she was seeking all this time was from herself. The old man gifted the little girl with the ability to see herself. For the first time, she could see her passion to seek and her courage to carry on. She started dancing to herself, and in that moment, she knew she no longer needed the applause from others, because SHE could give herself the biggest applause. SHE was her own biggest fan.
From then on, the little girl carried the mirror she was gifted to help others see their own special qualities and beauty. And at the same time, not forgetting to appreciate her talent and continue to dance, to the mirror in her heart.