As we move beyond childhood and teenage years, it is common to recognize in ourselves what we see in our parents, and especially what bugged us about them. And this can also be a good exploration in a more structured way.
What is it my parents do/did that bugs me? In what ways do I find myself doing the same? What are some specific examples? How does it feel to let that sink in? Is there more compassion? More understanding? More of a sense of us being in the same boat? An impulse to take more responsibility for how I act?
What is it my parents did or do that I admire? What are some specific examples? How am I doing the same or something similar? How does it feel to take that in?
And this can be expanded to include anyone else. Who in the world bugs me the most? What is it about them that bugs me? What are the specific stories I have about them? How do I do the same? Can I allow that to sink in? What happens when it sinks in? Who in the world do I admire the most? (etc.)
For me, I find that I tend to nag – often in my mind, and sometimes in words – the way my mother sometimes does. I nag about things not being the way I like them to be – when plans don’t work out, when it is messy in the house, when my wife is not taken care of things as I think she should. And I sometimes don’t speak up, which is exactly what bugs me the most about my father. I sometimes don’t speak up in groups, even if I would like to. When situations don’t feel right to me, I sometimes don’t speak up – even to myself.
What I admire most about both is their care in almost everything they do, and I can find that in myself too. I try to do whatever I am doing as well as I can, especially if others are impacted by it.
I am bugged by the stupidity of GW Bush, and how he seems completely oblivious to his own stupidity and its consequences, and that is something I do daily – including in many ways I am not even aware of (I continue to find new ways). I find myself do stupid things whenever I am caught up in a belief, and even as I realize I am caught up in beliefs.
I admire the prime minister of Norway, especially his mature, balanced and honest views, and I can find that in myself as well. I admire Arne Naess, the Norwegian eco-philosopher, for his playfulness and maturity, for him remaining childlike throughout his life, and I can find the same in me at times. And I admire a great number of my friends, for their maturity, level-headedness, and good works in the world.
This is just a brief initial exploration. It gets more interesting when I explore a series of very specific and concrete examples of each, allowing time for it to be felt and sink in. And the mirrors don’t need to be real-life people. Dream figures are fine too, as are characters from novels, movies, theater, mythology, religion and any other collective or individual stories that comes up for us.
– hero + villain – as a child and today (fictional or real-life)
– see, feel the worst and the best in each in myself, explore how is expressed in my daily life w. detailed examples