Hall of Mirrors
“How can I know what I think till I see what I say.”
“You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.”
Reflecting on Self
We’re glad you want to learn more about yourself. It’s a very worthwhile endeavor, one which really helped us on our way to a better marriage. By the way, we chose the Hall of Mirrors for its symbolism. This is a time to look hard at ourselves.
The title of this presentation is “Reflecting on Self.” You might ask, “Why must I reflect on myself?” Isn’t this program for our marriage? Yes, but before I can know and understand my spouse, I must know and understand myself through self reflection.
If I don’t truly know myself, how can I share my true self with my spouse? Sharing our true selves is an important part of Marriage Encounter.
As I looked inward, I came to see that I had a terrible fear of failure. It was sad to realize how much this fear was keeping me from developing my talents. Once I realized this, I wanted to change.
Bret’s a builder and for years I wanted to draw a super house plan for him to build, but I was afraid to try, that fear of failure in me was so strong. Finally, I decided to try. Sure enough, something was always wrong. I knew Bret hated to point out my mistakes, but I decided not to let that bother me. Certainly, Bret couldn’t build a faulty house just to please me, and I needed to know that trying and failing were better than not trying at all.
Fortunately, Bret realized that my difficulties stemmed from not understanding home construction. So he patiently taught me how a house is constructed, including floor and roof spans, how plumbing works, what adds cost, and on and on. I kept drawing – and suddenly one day his eyes lit up. He liked what I drew. He liked it so much – he built it. It became our model home and many people contracted for Bret to build them a home I designed.
Today there are several subdivisions of homes I designed and Bret built. To me, the most encouraging thing about self reflection is the awareness that we can change, if we want to.
Change can be scary. Will we still be loved? Bret and I have seen over and over that if we change to become more the person God meant us to be, then we’ll be more loveable.
Fear of failure was never a problem for me, but when I was reflecting on self, just like you’ll be doing in a few minutes, I realized that I am a very sensitive person. That helped me understand why I sometimes had trouble selling homes I built. For example, I might become defensive when a prospective buyer questions why I do something a certain way, or criticizes my choice of materials or workmanship.
Who are you? Do you really know? The roots of who we are lie in our childhood and dictate many of the decisions we make and the way we behave well into our adult years. When we discover the roots of our behavior, then we can deal with our thoughts and actions. With God’s help we can change.
I was a change-of-life baby, and the only little one in the whole family. Boy, did I get the attention! I grew up thinking I was the center of the world. Without realizing it, I became selfish and self-centered.
As a child, I was criticized and put-down a lot. I grew up with a poor self-image and a fear of failure. I was a tomboy, but it seemed I was always in trouble for going too far from home or climbing in trees. I grew up feeling unloved, and unwanted.
Reflecting on self is a lot harder than looking into a mirror. We all need to trust that deep inside is a good person – because God made us and God does not make junk. We may have minor character defects, but we’re good none-the-less.
Self reflection is necessary. In order for Bret and me to truly love each other we must like ourselves and see ourselves as lovable. When we like ourselves, we’re able to remove any phoniness and let each other know “the real me”.
This means we have to remove our masks. I admit that sometimes I need to wear masks to survive in the everyday world but I must remove my masks in order to communicate openly and honestly with Diane.
To define masks -- they are the shields we wear in front of us. Masks are the things we do or the ways we act which cover up who we really are.
Some common masks are: the clown, the braggart, the competitor, the bully, the intellect, the martyr, the achiever, the workaholic, to name a few.
When we made our Marriage Encounter, I didn’t think I wore any masks. But soon after, I realized that I wore the People Pleaser mask. It’s hard to realize how destructive a People Pleaser mask can be; it seems so nice, so Christian. I was the smiling person who loved to help.
Bret might ask me to go to a classic car show. I don’t want to go, but I want to be a good wife, so I would put on my People Pleaser mask and say, “Sure, I’d love to go with you.” Bored for hours looking at old cars, I’d suppress feelings of frustration and anger. Sometime later it would all surface and I’d accuse him of being selfish, or I’d give him the silent treatment.
Today, I still sometimes wear the mask of the People Pleaser when I choose to help a friend or neighbor even though I’m not in the mood, but I try to remember that -- that I’m not in the mood, so I don’t end up feeling disappointed or frustrated when things don’t go right.
With Bret, I try to be aware of my feelings, own up to them and discuss them with him. He now knows I get bored easily at classic car shows. Rather than be disappointed, he appreciates my honesty. My phoniness had him very confused and puzzled. When I do go with him, he looks for one that also has a craft show, or watches that we don’t stay too long. Then he takes me out to eat. Now, that’s okay with me! We laugh a lot, and we’re both happy.
It’s interesting to realize – I put on the mask of the People Pleaser to be a good wife, but removing the mask has helped me to be a better wife.
A mask I wore for many years was the “Mask of Affluence”. I wanted everyone to think I was the “rich man”. Wearing this mask went back to the age of 20 when I bought my first new car. When people saw me in my sleek, black convertible, I felt proud, important, big and strong. I liked the feeling of owning a sharp new car. Actually, within 18 years, I bought 22 new cars and trucks.
When I thought about masks this came to mind. I knew I was a phony. I wasn’t a rich man. Often the reasons I gave for buying new cars were not valid. I was living the “Mask of Affluence”.
Through reflecting on self, I realized my actions stemmed from my childhood. Although I was the center of attention at home, at school I was not part of the popular group who had lots of friends and went to parties. This hurt me deeply and I felt rejected. Subconsciously I was determined to show the world I would succeed and do better than any of them. Buying new cars became my way of looking successful.
Unfortunately, wearing the “Mask of Affluence” affected my relationship with Diane. I developed persuasive arguments to justify buying anything I wanted. Often I tuned Diane out when she talked about something she or the children needed. I recall telling Diane there wasn’t money to take the children to the dentist, but then I bought a decorative fountain for our yard. I was a proud and selfish person
We usually wear masks to cover up a poor self-image. If we could accept ourselves and like ourselves better – it would be easier to rid ourselves of masks.
When we were dating I knew that Diane had a poor image of herself. She told me that she felt inferior to her sisters and to several of her friends. It was a real shock when she wrote on our Marriage Encounter that she felt small and less important than me, “like the bat boy compared to the pitcher on a baseball team”, she said.
I found this hard to believe and asked her when she felt this way. Well, it was usually in the evening when we talked over our day. I would drag out all that I had done with lots of details. But when she talked, she could tell that I wanted her to speed up – to be brief. Sometimes I’d even pick up a magazine. Although I was not aware of these actions, I knew they were true. I had been very self-centered.
We didn’t talk about this anymore and I didn’t think about it until several weeks later. I slowly realized that Bret was treating me differently. He was listening better, showing interest in my activities, and praising me more frequently. Bret certainly helped me to gain a better self-image. He helped to build my self-confidence.
Now we have several questions to aid you in your self reflection. Dig deeply. Be open. The first question asks us to list our positive qualities and potentials. These are the things we like about ourselves -- like being honest, friendly, energetic, faithful, artistic.
The second question asks about our shortcomings. These are the things we don’t feel good about – our selfishness, bad temper, laziness, jealousy, bad habits.
During this Marriage Encounter Online, you will learn a lot about each other, but you will also learn a great deal about yourself. Each time you do a personal reflection, you will be looking inward at yourself. As you gain a deeper understanding of yourself, you will be led to a deeper sharing of yourself with your spouse.
Remember that this Self Reflection is for you alone. There will be no couple dialogue after it. Take 20 – 25 minutes for your Personal Reflection (PR)
When you have completed your PR, we will go over to the Joy Studio. Chris and Lori are waiting for you.
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