Mirroring is one of the major concepts of Imago Relationship Therapy, and is extremely helpful in developing a deeper, more understanding commuication between couples. Feeling heard and understood by your partner is a basic necessity for keeping your love new, refreshed, and constantly growing. It is definitely a major path towards deep understanding communication.
The other major concepts of Imago Relationship Therapy include summarizing, and empathizing. They can best be seen in the relationship between Princess Cinda and Prince James described in the book, "Relationship Magic". They are shared in detail while the story demonstrates how these concepts helped bring love, respect, and warmth back into the couple's relationship after it was on the brink of divorce.
Mirroring is exactly what the name implies, it is a way for you to let your partner know that you have listened to them and that you understand them. It opens the lines of communication by breaking down the barriers to communication, such as being defensive and/or taking things personally. Let me explain that in more detail.
Many times when our partner expresses their needs, wants or opinions to us we have the tendency to perceive their expression as an "attack", a criticism or a judgment. These are unconscious reactions that are related to our unresolved childhood wounds. We have been taught that expression of one's feelings is intended to harm us in some way. As you can imagine, when we are taught this, our reaction to expression is one of defensiveness in order to protect ourselves and our egos.
As adults, we have to teach ourselves that expression is not intended to harm but to help. It is designed to promote change, compromise and understanding. The first step in this process is to practice mirroring.
For example, if your partner says to you "When you talk to me in a demeaning tone, I feel like I am a child again getting scorned by my father". Rather than unconsciously reacting by getting defensive and saying "I don't talk to you in a demeaning tone" or "You talk to me like I am a child also", you can mirror your partner by saying "I listened to what you said and what I heard was that when I talk to you in a demeaning tone, you feel as though you are getting scorned by your father like you did when you were a child. Is that correct?" Your partner can then respond by affirming or by correcting you. If you have heard it wrong, you continue to mirror until your partner affirms that what you have said is correct. The dialogue can then continue without defensiveness and with an understanding of your role in the issue as well as your partner's role.
Can you see how mirroring can help you to truly understand what your partner is trying to express to you? Practice this in your mind and notice how you feel less defensive, notice how you feel more open and focused, more in the moment. You are dealing with the issue at hand, the current feelings and state of mind, not reliving the past or predicting the future.
Practice mirroring with your partner, your friends, your children and see the difference. Feel free to email me if you have any questions and I will do my best to help you. I can be reached through my website.
You can find out more about Imago Relationship Therapy in Edythe's new book, Relationship Magic that is available at Amazon.com.
The RELATIONSHIP MAGIC VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on June 1, 2008 and continue all month long. If you would like to follow Edythe's tour in progress, visit http://www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/ in June. Leave a comment at any of her blog stops and become eligible to win a free copy of her book! One lucky winner will be announced at her tour page on June 30!
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