Reflecting on Reflection Across Cultures

source: week in Japan my translator asked, “when you say, ‘reflection,’ what do you mean?”  Midori said she couldn’t find a Japanese word that matched what I seemed to be talking about.

It’s something I love about travel — and about parenting — I have opportunities to look at something so familiar, so known, that I don’t know it.  ”Reflection” is a word I use often, it’s part of our Change MAP and central to the skills of Know Yourself in the Six Seconds Model.  But what does it actually mean?  Midori said that when she looked it up, “reflection” seemed to focus on something mirror-like, an image showing itself again in a smooth surface.  Apparently it comes from Latin “reflex” or “bending back.”  What does this have to do with noticing one’s own reactions?

When we look in a mirror, we see ourselves – not the real self, but an image that we can step back and observe.  Perhaps this is akin to a state of internal reflection:  Rather than being in the movie, we are watching the movie.  A process of noticing, of “bending back” to see oneself.

The paradox is that in the process of self-reflection, I believe we are trying to see what’s “more real” than what’s apparent on the surface.  Maybe though the lens of a mirror we’re able not just to see, but to study?

What do you think?  What does “reflection” mean in the context of self-awareness?  What does this internal seeing have to do with mirror-like-ness?