The World is Not My Mirror

“The world is your mirror” is a common new age philosophy. It means everything you see in others is a reflection of you. Some take this further and say that everything you experience is just a story you tell yourself. So, nothing is real except that which you make real.

But, if the world is my mirror, then… the only relationship I have in life is with myself, I’m incapable of appreciating anything outside of myself, that chemistry I feel in romance is actually with myself, anything I do in service to another person is actually in service to me,

nobody is actually “thoughtful” — at least not in the way that implies the person wasn’t thinking of themselves, but others — maybe “thoughtfulness” is just a pretty word for selfishness,

and every act of violence and injustice I observe would cause me guilt, since it’s a reflection of me.

If the world is my mirror, then every tear shed over my father’s death was for me. It had nothing to do with my empathy for him and his pain, and for every person who was touched by the loss of his presence, actions, and love.

The world is NOT my mirror.

And while I respect that this philosophy might help some people, it could also make the world fall apart.

A police office could not enforce the law because they’d have to stop and reflect how a crime is actually a reflection of them. An abused child could torment themselves trying to understand what about their abuser is a reflection of them. Anyone could unfairly become guilt-ridden while freeing others of any accountability.

The world is NOT my mirror.

However, seeing myself in the world is healthy in moderation.

Understanding the part I play in what happens to me is accountability, after all.

But, unless I live on a deserted island by myself, then other people play a part in what happens to me as well. None of us are 100% accountable and the self-made man is a myth. To deny that is to deny every hand that has helped you get to where you are beginning with the first guardian you were entrusted to — to the last person who kindly bagged your groceries at the supermarket.

And even if you DO live alone on an island, you still have no control over mother-nature. She won’t let you live alone. Sorry.

But, if you’re adamant about 100% accountability then be sure to let the next person who helps you know. Because then they could use their precious time, and generosity towards someone who isn’t spending their life looking into a mirror.

If the world is my mirror, then we are not connected at all.

I’m only connected to the reflection of me I see in you.

Making a connection isn’t only about mutual interests. It’s also about looking outside of yourself long enough to accept and appreciate differences. Things that are not a reflection of you.

The irony of new age philosophies is that much of it implies that we shouldn’t judge others and yet it literally asks you to judge yourself constantly. But, if you’re judging yourself, then you’re also judging every one else, aren’t you? Since the world is a reflection of you?

When the world is your mirror, you’re free to live in constant self-blame.

Seeing something negative in another person isn’t acceptable, but seeing it in yourself is OK. Empowering even? Being a “victim” is weak and powerless, while being an “owner” is taking 100% accountability over your life. I think I covered how that’s literally impossible.

What’s missing is the fact that more than two roles exist.

Life isn’t filled with just owners and victims.

Sometimes we are just students, or peers, or allies.

In which case, we’d have to stop staring at our own reflections in hopes to understand something beyond ourselves, and contribute to something greater than anything we ever could alone.