We use mirrors to assess ourselves. The view is often unflattering, as when we we step out of the shower in all our glory. (Downright unsettling, in my case.) Nonetheless, our mirror image is the image we are most familiar with, to the degree that we feel that other representations of us have to be wrong.
In fact, most people prefer their mirror image to a photo of themselves. Google “pictures vs mirror” to get a range of discussions, including this article by Robert Gonzalez over on io9.com. He references a 1977 study that shows we come to like what we are most exposed to. Our mirror image gets a lot of self-exposure, several times a day at least, so it is perhaps natural that we come to view our mirror selves as our true selves. I’ve also heard that the fact that our mirror image is flipped left to right is also an important factor. When we see a photo of ourselves, something looks wrong. It’s worse in videos and almost disorienting on a live feed.
What did we do before technology provided easy access to reflective surfaces? Still water could provide a reflection under the right conditions. But for the most part, we had to make do with the most ancient of all mirrors: other people.
We see ourselves in others’ faces, the rapid chaos of emotions that they may or may not try to hide. We also see ourselves in the way we are treated by others. Our self-views can be distorted by those we surround ourselves with, so be careful of your choices.
Sometimes, we recognize ourselves in others, knowing their drives and fears as our own. In the process, we gain insight into ourselves.
For example, this article by Rita King on LinkedIn resonated massively with me. Ms. King confessed that she writes a manuscript of a novel almost every year. Sometimes it gets submitted. Often it is filed away for revision. Or maybe just filed away and a new manuscript takes its place. She recently decided to accept her fate and quit working on her manuscripts. Her resolution held… until it didn’t. She’s currently working on another manuscript. Hurrah!
Do you know how many manuscripts I have buried in back recesses of my consciousness? None worthy of ever seeing the light of day. Not worth dredging up. In fact, I’ve recently started throwing many of them to the wind, over on my other blog: LVS091215. I plan to purge the rest. Any day now… or not.