The best mirror is an old friend. Anon
Before you read any further, get up go to the mirror and have a good look at yourself. Did you notice the creases on your forehead, the tiny pimple on your face, the beginning of baggy eyes or perhaps you noticed at least one grey hair. If you didn’t see any of these, then you need to look again or improve the lighting or change your mirror. The beauty of a mirror is not in what it reveals but in honestly displaying back warts, moles, pimples and all without fear or favor. Unfortunately a mirror cannot reflect the person in you; your attitudes, your inner feelings, the fears, hopes, desires that permeate your thoughts. An old friend is thus your best mirror who helps you see yourself from the inside.
An old friend is one who knows us intimately and more importantly someone who knows us for a long time. When we appreciate that friendship is all about a good understanding, a close intimacy and utmost trust we realize that over the many years we have shared most of our innermost feelings with our friends. They know how we behave, react, respond and express ourselves in varied situations and circumstances. It is also possible that they have in subtle and not so subtle ways pointed out what they felt were undesirable qualities, traits, behavioral tendencies in us. Depending on our moods, our interpretations of those criticisms and our closeness to our friends, we could have partially acknowledged some criticism, defended most and ignored what didn’t suit us. In extreme cases we could have attributed motives to our friends and perhaps made our friendship more circumspect and even unfortunately in rare cases broken a friendship.
As a friend to others, we too have a similar obligation to our friends. There is risk in being too upfront and forthright and so we need to be more tactful, time our feedback appropriately and be unbiased and fair. However many a time we believe that criticism will not be taken in the right spirit and so most times our observations and criticism of others are shared with other close friends while the protagonist remains blissfully unaware and incapable of taking any proactive steps. It is just as important for us to encourage our friends and point out their strengths and abilities. There are many times when a wavering friend on the verge of taking a major personal or professional decision requires a friend’s nudge by way of support to take the plunge. Many a time as a friend our responsibility is to stand by a friend when he/ she is going through a personal crisis even if it was self inflicted or a result of foolhardiness on their part despite your warnings. Unlike a mirror which stoically reflects, a good friend must proactively empathize and sympathize making us one better than the heartless mirror.
Remember: “Self-revelation is a cruel process. The real picture, the real you never emerges. Looking for it is as bewildering as trying to know how you really look. Ten different mirrors show you ten different faces.” Shashi Deshpande
- Name three faults in your best friend. Have you been able to tell your friend about these faults? If not what has held you back? If you have told how has the friend reacted to it?
- What are the 3 criticism you have received from anyone, which hurt you the most? Were those criticisms justified? Did any feedback from a good friend hurt you? Have you severed ties with a good friend because of what he/ she said and you didn’t like it because it hurt you? Have you ever apologized and made up with your friend?
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