Sunday, August 2, 2009


Aside from looking at yourself, and checking to see if you look older today than you did yesterday, which is generally unproductive (you'll look older if that's what you want to see, younger if that's what you need to see), there is an important thing I can do. I like to do -- my family, my friends count on me to do.

Be a mirror. Listen. See what they want you to see, need you to see. See what they are saying, where they're going with their thoughts, and reflect it back to them.

My friend G has been talking about going on a diet again all year long -- probably the same diet that worked before (she's lost a hundred pounds, twice succeeded in losing the weight, and gained it all back).

Listening to G -- she's saying she wants to diet -- saying she's afraid to try again --saying she's too busy to start it now, but could start it after the holidays -- I hear something that she hasn't said before. She said, "For M."

What I heard is -- hurray, new motivation. This diet is not about wearing the pretty clothes she bought when she lost fifty pounds. "For M" is what she needs me to echo back to her.

I like being a mirror for our son, JD. Extra keen listening is involved. He knows what's on his mind, knows I listen carefully. He doesn't want Mom's advice. But he isn't sure what he wants to do -- write a one-man show -- work on his house (renovating) -- take a course in novel writing.

The three alternatives are what JD's considered doing last time he was unemployed. He's got "actoritis." I need to reflect back to him where he seems to be heading -- has he been reading a lot? Has seen a one-man show that he liked? Has he mentioned any leaks, any house problems?

In our dialogue, I'll pick up on whatever he's actually been doing, sing it back to him.

Mirroring for JC is easier to do. He does it for me -- listens, holds onto details about various projects, tactfully avoiding "do this, or do that." He's not a list maker. ( I am.) He and I mull over where he's at, where I'm at, in terms of restlessness and recreation.

Is it time for a trip, a visit with relatives? Is there something that was mentioned before -- not done for various reasons? Perhaps it needs to be considered again. JC won't be hurt, won't head in a wrong direction if I happen to emphasize a wrong project. I'm more suggestible -- if he sends me off in a wrong direction, I fuss at him. And fussing at him, realize the project he mentioned needs to be crossed off my list.

So what is mirroring? It's just a word. Pay attention to what your friends, your family have said, revealed, have chosen to do. Hold onto the details. Don't tell them what YOU feel they ought to do. Let them tell you.

"Do unto others ... "

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