Have you ever had a relationship with someone who gradually becomes you? Someone who, when you first met them, had one version of who they were which they told you about, but as you told them more about yourself, they changed their identity story, bit by bit, until it became your story told through their mouth. Someone who when you tell them about something going on in your life, suddenly has the same thing happening in their life, perhaps with different characters and details, but still, before you mentioned your issue they had said they were fine, then they remembered they had your issue too.
Perhaps they do you better than you do yourself, because they have none of your hang ups about being yourself, their version of you is more you than you are, more dedicated to being you, their version of your problem is more dramatic than yours, because they like having your problem whereas you don’t.
Sound familiar? Not at all? It is known as mirroring. A rather exaggerated version of something which we all do as it is a part of our social and survival skills. When we are with someone, we mimic some of their gestures, mannerisms, affectations of speech, sometimes even their accent. In theory we do it to appear friendly to the other person so they don’t kill us and eat us. Or something along those lines.
In most interactions, all people involved will mirror each other, but it will always be subtle and superficial. In more intimate relationships, it may play a part in creating a stronger bond. Friends getting the same hair cut, or wearing similar clothes, or using a group vernacular. Lovers walking in step, finishing each others sentences, looking up at the same time, knowing what the other is thinking with a glance.
We all find inspiration in others, and sometimes copy their style, usually adapting it to ourselves. We all mimic mannerisms and pick up the vocabulary of others. We try them on, take them for a test drive, they either suit us or they don’t, we discard them, or keep them and make them our own.
Much of human interaction is about finding that which we are seeking, sometimes without knowing we are seeking it. We look for approval, love, validation, meaning, and many other things. Sometimes we get them, sometimes we get the opposite, and sometimes we don’t get anything at all. Or maybe we do but it looks like nothing.
I was contemplating the dynamics of relationships and what they tell us about ourselves. Especially that dynamic known as – Why do I always attract this type of person? This usually means that amongst all the types of people whom we attract, we have located one type which we don’t like, and we want to stop having that type in our life. We like the other types, but this one gets our attention more because we don’t like it, how it makes us feel, behave and other things which make us uncomfortable… and we like being comfortable.
But of course what we don’t like in others is usually a facet of ourselves, a disowned part, or it is a spur, a thorn in our side provoking us to discover something about ourselves which we may be hiding and we need to find and integrate. It could even be a gift we have, that we don’t know about, or which we have misunderstood. This is especially true when we keep coming across the same scenario over and over again.
Now there are many advice tidbits on how to stop attracting people you don’t like, and they often advise changing who you are, a character trait or a relating style to attract who you do want to attract. It’s fairly good advice, however it does tend to treat others like objects. After all, the people whom you attract are people just like you, and they may think that they have attracted you and your type, and they may want to stop doing that as well.
And changing who we are is not easy. The change is often a forced one and doesn’t last, it only lasts as long as we can control our natural tendencies. Real and natural change works at a deeper level, and it isn’t always the sort of change we desire, it is usually one that needs to happen, one which we may not understand until much later. 20/20 hindsight.
I like seeing things from as many angles as I can find, however… I have always had a tendency to view certain personal things from one perspective until that perspective gets tiresome, until I find that it is not giving me the bigger picture which I need to understand the full why of a why. The most common tactic I use is to flip something around. Especially something which is considered a bad thing. I like to flip it and see if I can view it as a good thing. Then mix the good and bad sides. See the Yin and Yang of it.
This is what I was doing while reviewing the sort of people whom I seem to consistently attract. Or at least one type of person whom I keep meeting over and over again in different bodies, and who annoys the crap out of me, thus making them the sort I wish would stop being attracted to me. I know they feel the same about me towards the latter stages of the relationship. Because as the relationship progresses whoever they thought I was, becomes who they wish I wasn’t. They try to control me, push me back into who they want me to be, I rebel, each time with increasing fierceness, and blam! the interaction explodes in our faces. The end.
I attract people who mirror me in a way which I find creepy. This has happened since I was a child. I remember vividly feeling the way then that I feel now, only with less analytical thought applied to it. It confused me then. It still baffles me. Mainly because I have a hard time understanding why anyone would want to be like me.
Why would they want to mimic me until they become me? What is it exactly that they want from me? What do they see in me which they seek to absorb into themselves? What is it exactly which attracts them? And why?
I have struggled with this a lot. If I met myself, would I find myself attractive? Hard to know. I’ve met people whom I consider to be similar, but they are not me and I am not them. So seeing what others see in me and what they want from me, is a difficult perspective to get. Seeing myself from the outside, when I live on the inside…
When someone tries to take something from us, particularly if it is a part of us, like a limb, and more so if it is our identity which is precious to us, we instinctively go on the defensive. My defensive reaction is to reject the interaction. To get away from the person, out of their reach so they can’t have the piece of me that they want to take, often without asking, without my permission. They may think that they have my permission, because I appear easy going… perhaps. I often give to get… people to go away.
I’m trying to stop doing that, but it’s an easy way to solve a problem which annoys me. I’ve tried other ways, but this one is the most effective solution… in the short term.
When you are identified as a source of something, people keep coming back for more until you stop giving and being the source of their supply. The laws of supply and demand at work. Yet when you cut someone off from their supply, they often don’t go away, they get nasty. How dare you! And they tend to see you as the evil one who is being mean to them and hurting them, and they don’t think they deserve this kind of treatment because they have done nothing to you. Other than feed off of you until you’re drained and are tired and very grumpy.
Your life force is almost gone and you need to take drastic measures to stop them from sucking you to death. Primal instincts kick in, and kick them out. You’re the baddie, but at this point you don’t care as long as you get them out of your life and their greedy teeth out of your veins.
Sometimes you have to be cruel to others to be kind to yourself. There are plenty of others, there is only one you. Take care of you, let others take care of themselves.
In an effort to understand the dynamic of this repeating pattern of relationship in my life, I have made a million mistakes, all of which have given me information. Putting all of it together… takes time and skill. Which I sometimes lack.
To understand why you attract a certain type of person, it is necessary to analyse the other person. To see yourself from their point of view. To get into their body, their mind, their subconscious motivations and intentions, and try to discern what it is that they are after, whether they are aware of it or not. You need to be aware of it. It is not an easy thing to do, because we are always there, often getting in the way, and if we don’t like this type of person, why would we want to be them, be inside of them, and see things from their viewpoint. Especially if one of our issues with them is that they never see things from our viewpoint.
But since in my case these people want to be me in some way, I need to be them to figure out why they would want to be me, and not want to be themselves. That puzzles me more than people wanting to be me, because, seriously, we’re all unique, and that is our greatest gift, the meaning of our existence, to be who we are as no one else can be us, it’s a secret formula for one.
So… What does this type of person see when they look at me?
I have been told that I appear confident. That I give the impression that I have my shit together. These people often fail to see beyond that, perhaps because they don’t want to, they want to see what they want, not what they don’t want. When I reveal to these type of people that I have mess inside of me, they reject that part and often disappear for a while until I pull myself together again and return to being who they need me to be. Or they accuse me of being something bad for having problems, when the only problems which matter are theirs. Or they absorb my problem and regurgitate it, with added drama, so that their version of my problem trumps mine and I have to shut up, because my problem is nothing compared to theirs, and it is urgent, needs help, and I have to cater to them, their needs. NOW!
That last scenario happens so often that I have learned not to share my problems with others. They just don’t want to know. I deal with my own shit on my own, and only share what is absolutely necessary, usually with a different type of person, the type who may be able to help me in a practical way. Even then I am hesitant to share. But sometimes it can’t be avoided.
That behaviour on my part, keeping my internal havoc private, reinforces the concept that I have my shit together. In some ways I do, just not in the way that others may assume. I am confident. My confidence is an internal one more than it is external. I know myself fairly well. I know I can contain my shit, even when it feels like havoc central inside of me. And this has given me a clue to solving this relationship dilemma.
I tend to attract people who are not private about their shit, who want to dump it all over me, then absorb the bits they like about me into the space created by the dumped shit so that they too can be okay. Confident. But that absorbed confidence will only last for a while because it isn’t theirs, and as it depletes, so the space it leaves is filled with new old shit, the pressure inside of them builds, anxiety levels rise, and once again they seek to dump it and replace it with confidence. So, back to me they return, to dump and feed.
In all human relationships is an invisible contract. To receive we need to give. To give we need to receive. But there is a balance to it, and when the scales tip too far to one side, things go to all extremes of wrong and the interaction turns into a battle of wills and survival. Receiving turns into taking, and giving becomes hostile and very conditional. This can spiral out of control and reaching a truce… is often impossible. Too many things have been done and said, and pride has been damaged on both sides, and no one wants to apologise first or cede their position to a halfway line. And there is always the fear of being used, taken advantage of, manipulated, and hurt again. Once trust is broken…
However the contract is never broken. We are still giving and receiving, it has just gone from good shit to bad shit.
As I was thinking about this particular relationship dilemma of mine, as I toured the circle which is now a rut due to having walked around in it so many times, I saw a ladder which I had missed in my previous tours. I climbed it and it occurred to me that in some way these people are right. I was so caught up in breaking the pattern, figuring out how to interact differently with them so that the cycle would not repeat, better still, how to not attract this type of person, how to learn the lesson they are teaching me and be done with it, that I missed a vital point. These relationships are not all bad, they have good too. What is that good?
What are these people showing me about myself? I used to think that they were showing me what a pushover, softie, idiot I am. That may be something, but… what else? See the good, for the bad has been seen enough. I wondered, could these interactions be showing me my gift to others? But I don’t want a gift which makes me food that gets eaten until there is nothing left and I get nothing out of it in the end except abuse for cutting off their supply when I have nothing left to give them. And I don’t want to be around people who become me in a creepy way, it’s not flattering and it isn’t sincere.
Shhh. Silence the negative side of it and see the positive.
One of the reasons these people are drawn to me, is because I give out confidence boosts. Freely. Unconditionally. This world is a harsh place, with an abundance of criticism floating around. I like to balance that out. Tell people when they do something great. Tell people they are awesome. Point out their power, their gifts, and encourage them to nurture their talents and abilities. Be who you are, love yourself, get to know yourself, like all of you. Be confident about being you, even with all the things which make you doubt yourself, that’s just a trait designed to make you dig deeper and see further within. Embrace the light and the dark, they work together and compliment each other.
I enjoy affirming people, acknowledging their beauty and brilliance, and everyone is beautiful and brilliant. I sometimes overdo it… but hey, the excess just spills over and fertilises the earth. But not hey! Because although this trait is good for those who have their own confidence and experience this as a boost and nothing more, those who don’t, who live in a permanent state of self doubt and existential angst… to them this is a cornucopia they want to gorge themselves on.
My confidence is self-reliance. These people have no self-reliance, they seek it from others, and when they find someone like me giving it away for free in large doses… well, makes sense for them to go to the feast and eat all they can and more. Once they start feeding, it is hard for them to stop. Once I run out of food, and I do, because I have to replenish it, and I do that by retreating into myself, nourishing myself, then when I have more than I need, I share it. These people don’t understand this part of the process, and resent it. They do not have personal boundaries, and they do not understand what boundaries are, so they don’t respect the boundaries of others.
There are many things these people don’t understand. And I realise this… and I understand it as best as I can. Sometimes this makes me a pushover softie idiot. I feel for them. I’ve been there, in a place similar to where they have been… and I know how to solve it, but how do I share that knowledge with someone who wants my food for free, someone who has got that food for free and thinks it should keep coming, someone who doesn’t understand that they could learn to do what I do for them for themselves, and then they could be self-reliant and not need to get their supply of confidence from others. Then they would not need me, and that is a good thing for both of us. Then they could decide to be in a relationship with me because they want to , not because they need what I have.
I have this weird gift, and I should share it, but not in the way they want me to, in the way I know it actually should be shared. This creates a problem.
These people are the sort who would never read a post this long. They like them short and sweet. A positive affirmation which makes them feel good and believe in magic. A wave of the wand which makes all the ugly vanish and turn into beautiful. They like short term solutions, quick fixes. Quick fixes never last and often are a paperclip to fix a malfunctioning switch that controls the temperature in a nuclear reactor.
What I have which these people find attractive, is not exclusive to me. Anyone who wants it can have it. Many do. It does require some work. But that work, once done, means the fix is long term. And they need never feed off others again because they can feed themselves.
The problem with this is that this type of person doesn’t understand how I manage to be the way that I am. So they can mimic it, feed off of it, but they need me around to keep the pretence going, they need to keep topping up. I am more than willing to explain how I do it, but even when they ask me, they never listen or, more to the point, they do not like what they hear.
This sort of person feels empty inside. They don’t know who they are. This creates a hungry ghost. Someone who doesn’t have a sense of self, who seeks that in others, who fills their emptiness with others, but it never truly feeds the hunger. The attention they get from others never satisfies them, they need more and more and more, but more is never enough.
They are not really empty. The emptiness is an illusion, which they created, though they are not aware of that, nor are they aware of the tremendous power they have to solve their hunger. They feel powerless, meaningless, and abandoned by others to their awful and terrifying plight. They are not, but they can’t see that they are not. They don’t have a definite identity, so they steal and borrow the identity of others. But they do have a very definite identity, they just can’t feel and see it. Why?
There are many reasons why, as many as there are hungry ghosts. The why is partially important, but the how to fix it is more relevant. One of the reasons they feel empty is because they dump who they are outside of themselves. Who they are, their real self, their identity, is something they have come to believe is ugly, rejected, terrible, dark, negative. It isn’t, but they believe it is. So they try to get rid of it, often by projecting it onto others, then fighting those others, rejecting those others.
The belief needs to be smashed, illusions dissolved, and the rejected self needs to be claimed.
That is something which they are too afraid to do. The fear is also an illusion, but it is one which feels very real.
My self-reliance was born in darkness, not in light. It came from delving into my blood and guts. Facing my fears, shattering my illusions and beliefs, taking myself apart, again and again, and then putting myself back together. The process is ongoing. This post… is a part of that. All that I have just written, is me looking into myself and analysing, seeking within for solutions which will elucidate issues which I have, problems which I know I have the power inside to solve.
Ultimately the problems which I have with these people, lie not with them, but with me. With how I experience the relationship, how I perceive them, how I feel, and what I do or don’t do. Therefore the solution also lies with me.
Everything from the outside begins on the inside.
Start from within, that which you do inside, will work its way outwards.