When I was beginning my business, I had a woman come to the studio who very challengingly said to me, “I’ve been dancing since I was three. Am I going to like this class? What’s your background?” OK, background? Um, nothing, zero, I have no background. I was an Avonette in high school—that’s my “background.”
My “not-good-enough” thing came screaming to the surface causing me to immediately feel intimidated and thought, “She’s going to absolutely hate this class, because it’ll never be good enough for someone who’s danced her whole life.”
I was nervous beginning that class and then I realized something. This woman really wasn’t a great dancer. I don’t say that to insult her, but to illustrate what I started to understand.
She was my mirror. She was insecure about her own ability and reflected that onto me. I let myself be put on the defensive, too, reflecting back to her my own insecurity.
If I were a secure, confident person, this woman’s attitude wouldn’t have bothered me for an instant. And if she hated my class, I would understand that the class just wasn’t for her, instead of taking it personally. And if I were really an evolved person, I might have realized she was feeling insecure and taken steps to assuage her fear.
Shrinks call this “projection.” In life, it means that someone who really bothers you, I mean really bothers you, is exhibiting qualities that you possess yourself and don’t consciously recognize. If you can understand that your strong feelings are indicative of something you don’t like in yourself, you can take steps toward your own emotional growth.
Instead of getting stuck in defensiveness, we can recognize those strong feelings for what they are. This person is your mirror and your teacher. Further, we are all mirrors for each other.
We are all pretty much struggling with similar issues. If we choose to look beyond our initial upset, we can dance alongside each other appreciating and celebrating our similarities and differences.
When we can understand this, we can cut others some slack and, in doing this, we also give ourselves a break.