To see yourself requires a mirror, and I often use other people as mirrors.
Today I had coffee with someone I’d never met, but as he was recommended by someone I respect, I came to our meeting wide open to what I might encounter. And after an hour and a half of interesting back-and-forth, I left with a clear image of who I am and what I believe.
Here’s how it works. Listening to other people talk about themselves generates thoughts and emotions in me that resonate with what I believe. The best conversations, like the one I had today, either challenge my beliefs and spur me to consider new points of view or they remind me of core beliefs that have gotten paved over in the rush to make a living. Today was the latter. The resonance, the challenge or remembrance, happens all the time in conversation, but it often passes without people recognizing it as a reflection of their own beliefs. Seeing your reflection in the comparison of your beliefs to the beliefs of others is how to find your edges and limits. Knowing your limits is important: growth is to step beyond your limited beliefs into a new, expanded territory. My friend Jerry calls your beliefs your “maps”, and your maps define the limits of your world. That idea resonates with me.
So the next time you’re in conversation with someone, pay attention to your thoughts and emotions. These are reflections, not of that person, but of what you believe and who you are in that moment.