Daniel Stewart’s Mirror Mirror

Photo © Lauren Mauldin

BY DANIEL STEWART

You’re a mirror. I’m a mirror. We’re all mirrors… but not in the normal “who’s the fairest of them all” kind of way. In sport psychology mirroring refers to the tendency for people to reflect – or copy – the actions, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of those around them. The idea behind mirroring is that everyone we meet is a mirror, and if we’re not careful, our actions and reactions might begin to reflect what we see in others… even if those traits are negative. For example, when you hang out with people who gossip, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll begin to mirror their gossipy attitude (you reflect what you see in their mirror). Luckily, mirroring can also work in a positive way, like when you begin to become more confident because you begin spending time with confident and upbeat people (you mirror what you see in them).

It’s easy to see that mirroring can be used for good or evil. People (mirrors) who reflect negative attitudes and behaviors are called broken mirrors. Doubting yourself; becoming a quitter; or blaming mistakes on others are all examples of negative actions and attitudes that you can unintentionally reflect from broken mirrors. On the other hand, reflecting the positive actions seen in good mirrors, like finishing strong after a slow start; maintaining a sense of humor at a time when you might normally be cranky; and expressing gratitude to your trainers and coaches can ultimately help you become the best version of yourself. In the end, it’s up to you. You can either reflect the positive or the negative actions and attitudes that you see in the mirrors around you.

Mirroring is also called a social contagion because actions, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors are said to be contagious… meaning, if you hang out with gossipy riders, there’s a good chance you’ll catch a little of what they have; or if you hang out with confident riders you’ll catch a little of what they have. Again, the choice is yours. Either you decide to catch the positive or the negative, the good or the bad.

Taking all this into consideration it’s clear that mindfulness plays an important role in who you become. By simply becoming mindful of the kind of mirrors you chose to reflect, you’ll improve the chance of developing the actions, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that you find most useful and admirable… while avoiding the traits you feel are detrimental to your success.

In addition to avoiding broken mirrors (and refusing to reflect what you see in them), remember that you’re also a mirror. So, instead of simply avoiding broken mirrors, why not spend a little extra time reflecting the kind of positive actions and emotions you’d like them to mirror. Confidently accepting responsibility for a mistake instead of blaming it on your horse is a good example of a positive trait that you can help others mirror in their own riding. 

So spend a little time thinking about the kind of mirrors that surround you, and the kind of mirror you’d like to become for those around you… and always remember these words: Mirror mirror on the wall, I’ll always get up after I fall, and whether I run, walk, or have to crawl, I’ll follow my dreams and and catch them all!


Originally posted in Daniel Stewart’s Pressure Proof Academy monthly tips.

Daniel Stewart has been an equestrian for over thirty-five years and has coached riders all over the world for the past twenty-five. Combining his knowledge as an equestrian with a degree in physical education, he created an empowering and inspiring clinic series that helps riders develop equally strong minds and bodies. As the internationally acclaimed author of Pressure Proof Your Riding, Ride Right, and Fit and Focused in 52; he’s widely considered one of the worlds leading experts on equestrian sport psychology, athletics, and performance. He teaches clinics and seminars to thousands of riders each year including an annual summer clinic-tour that includes 50 clinics in more than 30 cities over a span of  60 days. He’s a sough-after keynote speaker, has published countless magazine articles, and is an equestrian sport psychology and rider fitness contributor for many other equestrian associations.

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