In recent times, the so-called “law of the mirror” has become very important as a tool for self-knowledge and personal development. You may have heard of it. You might even have used it to understand how the things that irritate you about other people relate to you. What you may not be so clear about is that what you admire in others also says a lot about you.
Admiration is a positive feeling. It’s pleasant for both the admirer and the one being admired. For this reason, we don’t tend to spend time analyzing why a specific trait or behavior of others generates admiration. However, in reality, all social relationships work as reflections of your own interior and provide you with really valuable information about yourself.
Admiring others can be beneficial as long as you approach it in a constructive and inspiring way. However, it can also lead you to develop a biased view of both the other and yourself. For this reason, it’s time to start asking yourself why you’re fascinated by certain characteristics of others.
What you admire in others
People who are like you
This is perhaps the easiest to understand. In fact, research has shown that we’re more attracted (on a personal level, not just romantic) to those people who are more like us. In other words, when someone shows a trait or value that they share with you and that you consider relevant, you react positively and with admiration.
For example, say you’re an extremely polite and respectful person with others and you consider these to be two of your best virtues. For this reason, you tend to enhance that trait as you’re proud to have it. In the same way, when you interact with an equally well-mannered and considerate person, you’ll greatly admire and appreciate that side of their personality.
They possess something you’re lacking
This is at the other extreme. You admire in another what you’re not and would love to be. However, it’s not only that. In fact, for a trait to fascinate you it has to be something that you consider impossible to develop yourself.
It’s something that’s happened to all of us at some point. For example, you might be taken aback by the sociability and extraversion of a friend, while you’re extremely shy. Or, you might find your partner’s determination truly inspiring when you’re overly indecisive. On the other hand, perhaps you know someone who’s been lucky enough to be able to leave their job and pursue their passion. You might feel that God, the universe, or luck has endowed this particular person with a special ability.
When you feel great admiration for someone, it may be because that person demonstrates the exact opposite of your shortcomings. In fact, they possess traits that you value as really positive but feel unable to achieve yourself.
How does what you admire in others affect you?
Admiring something that’s already in you can be a great tool to get to know yourself better and begin to appreciate yourself. Perhaps you’ve not yet become aware that the good manners or thoughtfulness that you value so positively in another is also a magnificent attribute of yours.
However, difficulties can arise when what you admire shows you what you’re lacking. At first, this may seem harmless. You interact with people who complement you and this can be enriching for both of you. Nevertheless, you run the risk of idealizing the other.
By seeing clearly in them something that you’d certainly like to have but feel you lack, you tend to magnify those qualities and lose perspective. Consequently, from that moment on, you may find yourself becoming dependent on the partner, friend, or family member you consider to be so much more capable and gifted than you are. Or, you may begin to envy them. This could mean you start to feel angry and frustrated at not being able to achieve those qualities yourself.
Work on you
If you find yourself in this situation, pay attention to what your admiration is telling you. Ask yourself if those qualities you see in the other are really the kind that you want to develop. Furthermore, to what extent you don’t possess them.
From here, you can begin to actively work on acquiring or improving them. In fact, make use of those others you admire so much to help you get to know yourself and inspire you to be who you really want to be.