Why are we so averse to certain traits in others?

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves”  ~ Carl Jung

I recently read this quote from Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, and wanted to share my reflections and what we can potentially learn from it.

Essentially, Carl Jung believed that, when we reflect on that which irritates us in other people, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves, which leads to an increased self-awareness. This can only be a good thing as we continue on our journeys towards our goals. Achieving your goals is a wonderful feeling, but the most important part of the process is the journey itself, in which you learn who you really are, your strengths and weaknesses and your likes and dislikes. The more self-aware we become, the more we will learn and grow as we strive towards our goals.

Being naturally social creatures, we come to understand ourselves best through our relationships and interactions with other people. Therefore, it stands to reason that, whether consciously or not, we surround ourselves with people whose characteristics and behaviours are a match for our own.

That said, it is often the case that certain characteristics in someone’s personality trigger a negative reaction us, and we often find ourselves at a loss as to why we experience such an aversion to these traits.

Why does this happen?! Is our subconscious sending us a message?!

It can be argued that we experience an aversion to certain traits in others because we see things within others which we recognise within ourselves and are not happy about. In this instance, there is a message being sent, that we need to take some time for reflection. We can only be triggered by something we know, understand and have experienced ourselves, whether we admit it to ourselves or not.

The traits which we tend to dislike in others are the ones which we dislike in ourselves and may be suppressing. We then tend to judge these characteristics harshly in others, but when we stand in judgement of others, we inadvertently expose our true selves.

The people with whom we interact are showing us who we really are, and are presenting  an opportunity to learn, reflect and grow. Every person we come into contact with is showing up at the perfect time in our lives to draw attention to something we need to reflect on within ourselves and learn from.

Rather than focusing on the negative feelings which the traits of another might stir within you, look for an opportunity to reflect, learn and grow.


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