S2Episode11 Mirroring Other’s Fears

January 24, 2024

Good morning from Milano. I’m thinking about a couple of different things this morning, but let me just start with this. I met a friend for drinks the other night. This is an old good friend of mine. As I was walking home, I remember thinking to myself that story that he just told me – it’s like the third time he said the same thing over a couple of years – there’s something dissonant about it.

The story was related to his family and financial security. Anyway, it’s personal and the details don’t matter. What does matter is that when I woke up the next morning my first thought was Hmm, I’m not so sure that fear that he was verbalizing is truly his. When I started to reflect more about it, I was thinking, wow, this is a person who has always valued professional integrity, personal freedom, having fun, taking trips with his friends, and somehow this story he was telling me didn’t feel like it was entirely his own.

It got me thinking to a time when I was in a long-term relationship and the person that I was with was a bit of a bean counter. Objectively speaking, our financial circumstances were quite different. Yet at some point in there, I found myself feeling less generous than normal and making these comparisons in my head about who is paying for what. Honestly speaking, that’s not me. I remember at some point I lashed out or I said something that I was ashamed of and I was able to hear myself. I realized that my partner’s feelings of scarcity and his stories and fears were triggering me, and I was mirroring his stuff. That was super helpful.

Now in both of these stories I’m talking about financial matters but this could be a whole host of other things. In a couple, it could be about time. You have more free time or you spend more time with a child. Or it could be jealousy being triggered. This once happened to me. I am not by nature a jealous person, and I remember my husband Marco was very jealous when we first got together. It it triggered in me this form of jealousy that was something that I had never felt before. So I think it can be so helpful to zoom out to listen to yourself or to observe yourself in order to recognize what perhaps is being triggered by someone else. Are you mirroring somebody else’s doubts, fears or anxieties?

Where I’m going with all of this is simply to say that it can be very useful to hear yourself, to catch yourself, or to notice when some behavior or attitude or thought or storytelling might on some level feel dissonant. Is it really yours, or are you perhaps mirroring the fears and doubts and anxieties of someone else?

It’s really good when we can catch ourselves. I’ll leave you with that for today.

Until next time, from my heart to yours.

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