The people we surround ourselves with are the primary mirrors in our life.
They shape our identity by reflecting back a representation of our image. In a sense, they tell us who we are.
This is a tremendous power that we give to our ‘people.’
This is worthy of reflection on many levels. Distortions in the the reflective surface will create a matching distortion in our understanding of who we are, how we should act, and what our value is.
For example, an insular closed off community will punish members who think and question by reflecting back these attributes as character flaws. The community will use language, status, rewards, honor, micro-aggression, gas-lighting, manipulation, coercion, and other “creative” means of control in order to either force conformity or drive the person out. When the person leaves, the community will continue to silence the voice of this person by shifting all blame for their departure onto them through continued application of the same tactics.
In our lifetime, one way or another, most of us will experience the feelings that come with the loss of a community that at one point was very significant to us.
When our community fails us (we leave, get kicked out, abused, or manipulated) there is a wilderness period we must go through until we find a new community who can reflect back our identity.
In the wilderness, the voices, labels, tactics, and pain of our old community haunt us until they are both eventually silenced by the winds of the wilderness and a new community slowly begins to have a louder voice in our lives.
It is a beautiful day when you realize that the haunting echoes of hurtful words from the past have been replaced by the love and embrace of a new community. Certainly not perfect (who really expects that) but a community willing to see and hear and embrace you, in all your quirky uniqueness + imperfection, as the great gift that you are.
Where have you experienced the loving mirroring of a community?
When have you experienced the distorted reflection of a community turned toxic?
Are there any manipulative and hurtful tactics that I need to name and turn away from in my own interactions with other people?