our thoughts

continuous feedback : everyone is your mirror
12 February 2014



“We have to confront ourselves. Do we like what we see in the mirror? And, according to our light, according to our understanding, according to our courage, we will have to say yea or nay – and rise!”

Maya Angelou

In previous posts, we explored what the concept of projection means and how we might reclaim our projections when engaging with other people. In this post, we take this concept a stage further and make an even simpler and potentially more radical statement about our interactions with others:

Every single person in your life acts as your mirror.

What does this actually mean?

It means that other people are simply reflecting those parts of your consciousness back to you, giving you an opportunity to really see yourself as others see you and ultimately enabling you to make different choices. The qualities you most admire in others are your own and the same goes for those qualities you dislike.

In every interaction, you will be receiving continuous feedback about how you are ‘showing up’. All you have to observe is how you think and feel about the other person as you continue to engage with them. If you notice you are starting to judge them, getting annoyed or bored, or becoming captivated . . . these are all pieces of information that you can use as feedback on how they might be experiencing you.

When you see faults in others you can use this as an opportunity for self reflection. If you think someone is arrogant, examine your own ego, if you feel someone is being unkind examine your level of kindness, compassion and empathy. If your friend’s judgmental nature bothers you,  think about how you judge other people.

Being able to fully accept the reality that this statement brings can lead to some powerful and profound changes in how you interact with others. In order for you to ‘change’ anything in any of your relationships, all you need to do is be the change you want to see. For example, if you want someone to trust you, trust them . . . if you want someone to be influenced by you, be influenced by them . . .

To be as effective as possible in the world, always look at people in a positive light. If this becomes difficult, use your awareness as an opportunity to examine your self.


further resources

The following resources provide further reading, insights and exercises you can try out.

www.chabad.org  – The mirror theory – how to handle impossible people

healing.about.comAbout mirroring – what are our mirror reflections trying to teach us?

www.mind-your-reality.comEveryone is your mirror – the greatest relationship secret

www.psychologytoday.comAre other people your mirror?

action experiment : saying ‘No!’
12 February 2014



“When you say ‘Yes’ to others, make sure you are not saying ‘No’ to yourself.”

Paulo Coelho


Many people have difficulties saying ‘No’ to other people. There are many possible reasons for this which we will not go into here.

As we have discussed on this blog before, it is only when people become curious about their inner reactions to situations that they are able to make different choices. This post describes an action experiment that can help you further explore your inner reactions when you say ‘No’. This experiment can be done with or without a partner, and even without anyone else knowing what you are doing.

It involves you becoming more aware of how you react when you clarify your boundaries with another person.  If you decide to let your family, friends or colleagues in on the exercise, you might choose to make the exercise a little harder by choosing something to say ‘no’ to that you might ordinarily say ‘yes’ to.

Here’s how the experiment works:

For a week or two, pick something each day that you wouldn’t normally say ‘no’ to. Then, instead of saying ‘yes’ automatically– say ‘No’!

It doesn’t have to be something terribly important; just something that others would normally take for granted.

For example, if you’re out shopping with your children, and they always ask for ice cream, and you’d rather not get it but usually do it anyway because it’s easier than fighting over it- then don’t! Say “NO” and then don’t back down.

You can also choose work situations, for example:

When a your boss or a colleague asks you to do something that you haven’t got time to do, how do you let them know that this is not going to be possible. Do you:

  • apologise or make excuses,
  • get mildly annoyed and push back,
  • avoid agreeing and hope the issue will go away,
  • moan about your workload / their request, or
  • calmly and assertively say “Thanks for thinking of me for this. I don’t have the time to help you”.

How quickly do you interrupt the other person when you know you can’t help them? Do you wait until they have finished speaking or interrupt them early?

Keep a record in your journal of how you feel when you say ‘No’ for the whole time period. You may start to notice different situations or people where you are more or less comfortable saying ‘No’. You may notice you feel fear or anger or guilt when you say ‘No’. You may notice you feel  differently about saying ‘No’ when you get to the end of your time period than you did at the beginning. If you don’t notice anything, consider doing the experiment for a longer time period.


“No is a complete sentence and so often we forget that.” 

Susan Gregg


further resources

The following resources provide further reading, insights and exercises you can try out.

blogs.hbr.orgLearning to say no is part of success.

FreeYourMind – The ‘can’t say ‘No’ syndrome’ : a deadly hazard to your health.

lifehacker.comA scientific guide to saying no.

www.psychologytoday.comWhy you can’t say no.

zenhabits.net7 simple ways to say ‘no’.


personal accountability : reclaiming our projections
12 February 2014


“Personal accountability is the life-giver, the thing that fills the soul with esteem and repairs it from the inside out.”

- Amy Larson


In the last post, we learned how we project thoughts and feelings onto other people in order to avoid feeling anxiety. One consequence of these projections is that we are constantly shrouding the other person with our fantasies and never see them as they actually are. This limits the amount of real contact we have with them and is the source of much misunderstanding in our world. Exploring the projections that you habitually make onto other people can be a very useful process in developing a more direct and authentic way of relating to others. …..read more

distorting reality : understanding projection
12 February 2014

Distorted Reality

“Our brain is mapping the world. Often that map is distorted, but it’s a map with constant immediate sensory input.”  

-  E. O. Wilson


One of our defining human characteristics is our ability to protect ourselves when we experience pain or fear. Whilst this feature has undoubtedly served us incredibly well in many situations, it is something which often distorts our ability to experience things as they actually are. …..read more

overcoming organisational fragility
27 June 2013


The world is conspiring to create tough times for organisations. Many of the command and control mechanisms employed to minimise environmental disruptions and maintain steady growth are being shown up as illusions.

In a recent HBR blog post, Make Your Organization Anti-Fragile, Brad Power outlines a key theme for organisations to focus on in order to build flexibility and resilience:

“Crises and major disruptions are not an abrupt departure from what anti-fragile organizations do continuously — solve problems. Rather than being controlled through rigid command structures, employees at all levels are trained every day to be quick problem-solvers.”

This simple statement requires organisational leaders to rethink how they enable employees to take a proactive role in their organisations future. Indeed, the very concept of leadership shifts from one that is based on hierarchical level to one that is based on ‘acts of leadership’ at all levels. This more systemic approach to leading frees people up to take the initiative rather than waiting to be directed.

A radical approach. Maybe. And one that is becoming more necessary in a random world that values autonomy rather than dependence.

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