A few months ago, I wrote about how it seems the idea of God people have is often a reflection of their own personalities, so bitter angry people tend to have a wrathful image of God, and those with a loving, gentle image of God tend to be those who are naturally good-tempered.
Last night I had a reminder of how our interactions with other people can similarly act as a mirror.
After work, I had a coffee date with someone I had never met in person before, a very low-key, low-expectation sort of thing. The little I knew of him suggested that our personalities were polar opposite so there was little chance for a connection. I have found that people like him — driven, highly motivated, full of new and interesting ideas and the entrepreneurial spirit to know how to enact and monetize them — tend to find people who are not like that (i.e., ME) difficult to understand and perhaps even hold us in contempt. So, when at the end of our time together it was clear he had no interest in seeing me again, it was certainly not a surprise and not even a disappointment.
But what I found interesting is that this wholly expected ‘rejection’ stuck with me throughout the night. I had to wonder why, since I had zero investment in the situation. I realized as I thought about it that I really am particularly sensitive to the rejection by people like J. because the things they find unattractive about people like me are exactly how I see myself at my worst. Thus their rejection of my apparent lack of motivation and passion, my indecisiveness and risk-aversion is essentially a mirror of my rejection of myself.
And this isn’t a case of wanting to be like such people. In fact, I find their single-mindedness as unattractive as they find my seeming lack of ambition. But, again, coming at things from the other way, their strengths are things I find lacking in myself, so in a sense being with them is like having coffee with my own weaknesses.
Anyway, I don’t think there is anything particularly insightful to be said here, other than that it’s a good reminder that if we find ourselves oddly affected by interactions, it could just be this mirror principle at work.