Our 'mirror' and our expression
Our narcissistic mirror can feel a lot like the mirror that the Evil Queen had in the fairytale, Snow White. Let's allow the Evil Queen to open up her world to us. Help us understand our narcissistic tendencies and see how we look in our magic mirror: "Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?"
Snow white is one of the most famous fairytales around the world published in 1812 by Brothers Grimm. Most of us sympathise quite easily with the Snow White who was young, beautiful,inocent, open hearted and loving. But we find it difficult to empathise with the Evil Queen who was vain, superficial, uncaring and mean.
So let's try to understand her more and through that understand our relationship with our 'mirror'.
What gives meaning to the evil queen's life? What kind of loss would make her feel despair and grief?
She has based the meaning of her life, her purpose in the world, her self worth and her identity on her beauty. Being beautiful and actually the most beautiful of all, was what the evil Queen felt would keep her alive. She was desperately in need to stay the most beautiful of all. It felt to her that this was the only way to keep existing and having a reason to be alive.
Her ego survival depended on beauty, without her beauty she would feel the nothingness and her ego would suffer a near death detrimental blow. When the ego gets hit so hard, it experiences its death which gives rise to intense grief and sadness.
Perhaps we can relate to what the evil queen was going through and empathise with her if we ponder upon the following questions: What gives meaning to our life? What if we lost would make us feel despair and grief?
The evil queen was afraid of being seen as not good enough. She was terrified of being seen as unworthy, insignificant and unlovable. Her vanity to be seen as the most beautiful of them all was fuelled by these fears. She was in such intense inner pain that she desired the eradication of her stepdaughter. In order to avoid falling into the deep grief of losing her beauty, she was prepared to do anything. With the death of the Snow White, she hoped to find eternal approval by the magic mirror.
Who is this mirror?
The magic mirror can be seen as our family's, other people's or society's values. Our perception or feeling of what the mirror says to us can be influenced by these values. (When what you show to the mirror and what you feel inside, has a significant discrepancy suffering is on its way.) Then we see a 'beautiful' facade with a empty painful vanity inside. We try to look 'perfect' on the outside and inside, we are being eaten alive by the fear of rejection and all the emotions it has suppressed.
Perceptions of inadequacy are the one side of the vain queen's mirror, and perceptions of perfection are the other side of it. When we feel that this magic mirror says "you are the most beautiful of all", we can feel on the top of the world, powerful and benevolent. When we feel that the mirror says "there is someone else more beautiful than you", or "you could look better if you had thinner thighs and bigger breasts", we can feel insignificant, unworthy and insecure.
We can all be narcissistic at times when life is difficult and we have been traumatised. We may not want to kill our step daughter to make sure we are the most beautiful women in the world, but we may bypass what we want to say or do in order to be accepted or liked.
As a social animal we want to be accepted and liked from other humans. However, this natural condition can turn into a nightmare when we want to be liked above wanting to express who we are and above our need to connect with others.
Beyond the magic mirror lies the authentic expression of who we are.
Sometimes the mask we put on without realising when we look at the magic mirror grows more and more on our face, to the point that we can no longer seperate it. When we are not expressing our authentic selves because we fear loss, abandonment, isolation, disaproval and criticism, we are little by little building a heavy mask. In this way, we could end up losing our inner passion, our deepest motivation and our sense of purpose.
To move beyond our narcissistic mirror, we need to want to know and to express ourselves instead of wanting to adhere to shoulds and expectations. In order to know and express who we are, we need to grow our inner strength and become more in touch with our emotions and desires. We also need to explore and understand our fears, in order to express ourselves despite them.
The following questions could help us find out more about who we are: What is the one thing I need to keep in my life no matter what? What would I be doing if I had a lot of money and did not need to work for a living? What brings me the most joy in my everyday life? What if I lost I would feel lost? What is my biggest fear? What would I like my legacy to be?
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