The People Mirror Effect

“Your perception of me, is a reflection of you. My reaction to you is an awareness of me.”

 – Unknown.

What do you do when you look at yourself in the mirror?

Maybe you comb your hair or have a shave. Maybe you brush and floss your teeth. Maybe you correct your posture. Maybe you examine the look in your eyes and evaluate your mood. Perhaps you decide to put on a smile. Either way I’m guessing you pay attention. I’m guessing you take the moment to show yourself some love. 

When you smile in the mirror what do you see?

Your radiant self of course, but is that all? 

Can you see your mum and dad? Your brothers and sisters? Your children and grandchildren? Maybe you can see your friends or strangers you’ve never met. Maybe you can see the eyes of millions, generations long since passed, staring back at you.

Look deeply enough and you’ll see far more than meets the eye.

If we look deeply at others we can also see they reflect the world around them. If you smile at them, they often smile back. And if they don’t, we often drop our own. In this case we become their mirror. 

This is something to be aware of. 

When we are mindless we become the mirrors of others. When others shout and harden their defences, we often do the same in response. Like a mirror image. So often in arguments you hear two people shouting with neither party listening. They might as well be shouting into a mirror.

It’s worth bearing in mind that people don’t just act like mirrors to other people, they often reflect the way the world has treated them. If the world stopped paying attention to them, they may reflect a lack of interest. If it treated them harshly they might act out in kind. The behaviours of someone often mirror something well beyond the person they’re interacting with. 

This is something else to be aware of. 

This is one reason why we shouldn’t take what others have to say so personally. Why we shouldn’t be so quick to judge. It’s also worth remembering that other people’s behaviour doesn’t reflect in you unless you let it. Unless you act mindlessly.

On the flip side when we are mindful, we can influence what others reflect back at us and the wider world. When we are mindful we can disarm the anger thrown at us. When we are mindful we can stand firm and make sure all that is reflected is love and kindness. It is when others are feeling the most pain and at their most vulnerable, that we have the best opportunity to act as mirrors to the good that exists in all of us. 

I believe we should pay the same care and attention we do ourselves in the mirror, to all those we encounter. Show them the same level of love. Maybe don’t start flossing their teeth, of course, but show them kindness all the same. The kindness and love they need. That we all do. 

Ultimately showing love and kindness to others is one of the greatest acts of self love. This is because, if you look deeply enough, you’ll see that person is you. And you are them. As one. 

It’s nice when we see ourselves smiling isn’t it?

(Thanks for reading everyone. I’m curious, do you believe our inner world is reflected back at us? Do you believe the outer world reflects our inner turmoil? Are our perceptions of others merely a reflection of ourselves? Let us know below. Wishing you well.)


If you like to read more of AP2’s random thoughts about mindfulness, then please visit his personal blog here at:

69 thoughts on “The People Mirror Effect

  1. Making assumptions about what others believe about us based on their actions towards us is one of the biggest sources of unhappiness for people. It is an important realization that sometimes how others treat us, actually has nothing to do with us.

    1. I agree. I think many of us often thinking, “I hope he or she isn’t thinking this about me”, when the chances are they don’t care at all. That’s the problem with spending your time worrying what other people think – the chances are they’re not thinking about you at all. Equally when people treat us badly it’s to do with them and their issues. The best thing we can do is not make their issues our own. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. 🙏

  2. The content of this article strikes at the chords of my heart and leaves me invigorated, yes, because its truth, more than this though, it is compassion, love, tenderness and understanding; and a good deal more. It is the cry of seven million plus souls on this planet, bereft of its healing salve. Thank you for sharing AP2.

  3. I obsess over my eyebrows whenever I’m in front of a mirror. I think my face looks totally different with even a few eyebrow hairs out of place. Maybe I over obsess a bit

    1. I suspect you’re not alone. What do I obsess over? 🤔Not so much my face. Maybe my beer belly? Then I suck it in and think, I’m not such a bad looking chap after all. 😂 My message would be not to stress so much (as easy as that is to say). None of us are perfect and nor will we be. Acceptance is key. Wishing you well. 🙏

    1. That’s interesting- I had no idea. Of course kids mirror adults. I assume that’s by design so it makes sense. Thanks friend. Wishing you well 🙏

  4. Beautiful and such a great description of the power of mindfulness. This reminds me of a story about a rabbi asking his class, “When do you know that dawn is broken?” and the students offer things like when you can see the olive hanging on the branch. And he replies, “No, when you can see yourself in another man’s eyes.”

  5. In 2012, I joined a new job. It was a large organization and I felt very lost in it. So I was keen to make some friends. So I started to smile at people that I came across regularly – you know, coming into office at the same time, having lunch at the cafeteria at the same time, crossing paths at the water cooler, or meeting officially for one thing or the other. Soon, there were many people with whom I had a nodding acquaintance. Once I was walking with my team member and he commented, “Wow you smile a lot!” I exited that company in 2015, but 6 years on, a lot of them are still connected with me on social media. I guess our inner perceptions and intent do color our external world. 🙂

    1. Lovely story. I’ve heard something similar about a person who made smiling at people a habit and said it changed her world so to speak. How we act and feel inside must colour our perspective as you say. Thank you for sharing 🙏

  6. Other people teach us who we are. Their attitudes to us are the mirror in which we learn to see ourselves, but the mirror is distorted. We are, perhaps, rather dimly aware of the immense power of our social enviornment. A lot of the current quest for identity among younger people is a search for an acceptable image. My image of me is not at all your image of me. We notice only what we think noteworthy, and therefore our vision is highly selective. Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.

    1. “Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.” I like this a lot. I often think we need to be very careful with what we tell ourselves about who we are. The labels we attach to ourselves. That’s all they are – labels. I think freedom comes from our ability to look through them. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. 🙏

      1. Also, as Chuck Palahniuk wrote in his novel Fight Club, “you end up buying things you don’t need, to impress people who you don’t like”.

      2. Many of our thoughts, habits and behaviors are passed down from our family, society and culture. Before we take ownership of certain traits and thoughts, let’s be mindful of what is really ‘ours’. We seldom realize, for example, that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society.

  7. “ When we are mindful we can disarm the anger thrown at us. When we are mindful we can stand firm and make sure all that is reflected is love and kindness. It is when others are feeling the most pain and at their most vulnerable, that we have the best opportunity to act as mirrors to the good that exists in all of us.”

    So true! These are words worthy not only of pondering m, but implementing in each of our lives! Well said!!

  8. Blank out one half of your face -observe, and then blank out the other half. What you see are two different characters -so what this means is when you look in the mirror with your whole face, you see what you want to see of yourself. Any way you want to look at it the mirror lies!

    1. My mirror keeps lying to me saying that I’ve put on weight 😂. Thanks Tony. I don’t doubt our own perceptions are distorted, let alone other people’s perceptions of us. I guess the message is to be very careful what you tell yourself. Wishing you well 🙏

  9. I find there is a big difference between my mirror reflection and what a camera captures! I love photography and hate being in front of the lens. But how we see ourselves and others see us is really hard to visualise. While I can see the inner beauty, the smile and the positive body language in others I struggle to accept that others see that in me as well. But I’m all for more kindness in the world. Just a simple act can transform someone’s mood or restore one’s faith in others.

    1. I have also struggled with ideas that others don’t value me. Self doubt is not an easy perception to overcome. Ultimately I believe the power lies in learning to love who we are and not care what other people think (since we can’t control that anyway). Do what we believe is right, not what we ‘think’ other people think is right. That’s easier said than done of course. It’s very much an ongoing process I’m trying to learn myself. Thank you sharing your thoughts. Wishing you well 🙏

  10. Kindness is so powerful and a little smile to a stranger is so simple but could go a long way ❤ Thank you for this post, I really enjoyed reading 😊🙏

  11. It’s even nicer when we can reflect our smile onto others and not reflect their sadness.

    I believe our perceptions of others are a reflection of ourselves but not entirely.

    1. Hey Francis. Good to hear from you. I agree – not entirely. But I think people tend to act like mirrors. If we radiant peace and calm that is often reflected back at us. We cultivate externally as well as internally. Wishing you well buddy 🙏

    1. Absolutely- Our lens became a tinted. When are in a negative state of mind we tend to look for what is negative to confirm that world view. The same is true if we are feeling positive. That’s an important awareness. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. 🙏

  12. You used the mirror saying we reflect. I’d say we project our perceptions of everything we are part of in this life, except I’m not sure what I would use to show it more simply. The reason I say we project instead of reflect is we are capable of not responding to what is in our world. A mirror has no other choice but to reflect.

    1. I agree with you. I use the idea of the mirror as an analogy for someone who reacts (and thus effectively reflects) instead of someone who chooses a measured response or no response at all. In that case they are not acting like a mirror – but by demonstrating mindfulness they have a chance to disarm the negative emotion in the other person. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts 🙏

  13. 1. “I’m curious, do you believe our inner world is reflected back at us?” instead of believe: know.

    2.” Do you believe the outer world reflects our inner turmoil? ” instead of believe: is; up to the moment there is someone very observant to point out for you that we make up our own movie, scenario included… than things start to change…


    1. Good answers. Especially to the first one. Know. Love it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts as always. 🙂🙏

  14. Exactly.. so true ..or we can say that we instantly influence by others behavior.. Sometime mirrors shows us the reality which we’re always denying to accept..Sometimes its good to accept the reality also..

    1. I think if we’re aware “the mirrors” (other people) allow us to see our own reality for what it is. Staying present and observing your reaction within is key. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. 🙏

    1. I believe if we are resting in awareness we simply observe what is without any preconceptions or judgement (which is very hard to do). However so long as we are conceptualising everything – so long as we are trying to make sense of the world I believe what’s reflected back at is is indeed what we believe to be true, but not necessarily so. Thank you for sharing your thoughts 🙏

    1. Thank you. Interestingly I don’t think I’m a very good writer. I tend to think I’m more of a good thinker. Writing doesn’t come naturally to me but I enjoy it. I relish the challenge. I think that’s key. If you enjoy it and keep writing consistently, there’s no reason why you can’t be even better. Wishing you well 🙏

  15. Brilliant reflection! I can really sympathize with this one as I can completely relate to how your own personal history and seeing yourself and different characteristics of your relatives shapes who we are and how we treat others. Great writing!

  16. So much kindness and love shared in your words AP. Thank you for the honesty within them, and your encouragement to *see* people. Not just the things they’ve done, or the things they’ve said, or how they are today, but to see the individual.

    When I walk around (which I understand in and of itself is something not everyone in the world is able to do right now) I try to always show people a smile. I try not to expect one in return, or force my seemingly ‘happy’ outlook to them, but I offer it with kindness and hope. If you’ll permit me to share some song lyrics I wrote some time ago:

    When you look into someone’s eyes long enough
    When you stare into their soul to see
    The person they might be fast becoming
    You’ll find the love that sets them free.

    Thank you again for your beautiful words. 🧡

    1. It’s easy to go about our day rushing to get out to-do lists done without really seeing anything or anyone. I think that’s a crying shame.

      Thank you sharing your kind words and beautiful lyrics Hamish. Really stunning. You’re a talented young man. 🙏

      1. Thank you, my friend. We learn by asking questions, and listening with interest to the answers. You offer a space to do both, and I feel encouraged to share here, as well as out into the world. 😊

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