5 Powerful Tips For When People Drive You Crazy

When someone else yawns, do you yawn, too?

If your friend starts laughing as she tells a story, have you noticed your face lift into a smile as well?

When someone else speaks with excitement, do you hear your voice matching their tone?

If so, you’ve experienced a phenomenon called mirroring.

This week I’m taking this concept even further as we look at different relationships in our lives.

Whether it’s colleagues at work, close family members, or long-time friends, we’ve all experienced tensions or disconnect in our relationships.

This week on the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast, I’m viewing these familiar situations through the lens of mirroring.

By the end of the episode you will:

  • Better understand what can cause a disconnect in your relationships.
  • Learn how to navigate and grow from each experience.
  • Improve and strengthen these connections while developing a deeper understanding of yourself along the way. 

So if there’s a relationship in your life that you’re looking to improve, you’re going to love episode 96 of the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast.

You can listen to the episode below, or stream it on your favorite podcasting app here: 

Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling for the entire podcast transcript.

Listen To The Podcast Here!

In This Episode, You Will… 

  • Better understand what can cause a disconnect in your relationships.
  • Learn how to navigate and grow from each experience.
  • Improve and strengthen these connections while developing a deeper understanding of yourself along the way. 

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Episode #96: 5 Powerful Tips For When People Drive You Crazy (Transcript)

Hey everybody! Thanks for tuning in to episode 96 today. I so appreciate you taking the time out of your week to hang out with me for a bit. How have you been this past week? What’s going on with you?

I just got back from walking Bruno. It is absolutely gorgeous today. It’s one of those spring days that I wish I could bottle up and keep on the shelf. That way in the coldest months of January and February or the super hot and humid months of July and August I could pull out that day and soak it all in. It’s seriously my favorite. Anyway, I hope all is well where you are, too.

So today I’m excited to explore with you a concept called mirroring. And we’re going to start by examining the general idea of mirroring, and then we’ll look at it through a slightly different lens and take it to a deeper level in regard to important relationships in our lives.

Hopefully, by the end of this episode, you’ll have some additional tools in your toolkit to help you start better understanding both yourself and your relationship with those around you on a deeper level. And especially those who – we often claim – drive us absolutely crazy. 

Be honest. You have at least one person who comes to mind when I say that, right?

What Is Mirroring?

But first, let’s talk about this general idea of mirroring. Essentially, mirroring is something we do as humans when we interact with one another. We basically copy or mimic another person whether it’s their speech patterns, body language, and facial expressions. And most of the time, we have no idea that we’re doing this. 

In terms of the science behind this phenomenon, it’s called limbic synchrony. And basically, when we think about the evolution of humans, it was essential for people thousands of years ago to align with and behave like other people in their group. It was a survival mechanism. It was a way to fit in and belong.

So what does this look like? Well, when we think about mirroring body language, it might look like someone laughing really hard, and your face starts to smile in response. You’re preparing to laugh. Or maybe you yawn when someone else yawns. You lean back in your chair, your friend leans back in her chair. It’s basically a way that we show one another empathy and signals that we have this connection to the other person.

In an article in the Wall Street Journal, they labeled the behavior the chameleon effect. And it can be physical body language like I just mentioned, or it might be vocal inflection, where the other person is talking super excitedly, you naturally start reflecting that, too. And essentially, this practice of mirroring gestures, posture, expressions, etc. suggests a desire to connect and please.

First of all, I think this is fascinating in itself. Especially since it is something that just happens naturally as humans.

And today, I want to look at this from another angle in terms of behaviors and traits of other people and our thoughts about these behaviors. And I hope it will help us all gain a better understanding of different relationships in our lives whether they are super healthy and positive or a bit strained and challenging. All of which, per usual, come back to our thoughts. And we’ll get to that in a minute.

But I want to look at five different ways that I notice this type of mirroring shows up in our lives, and I’ll give some examples for each one. So as you listen, I encourage you to think about these scenarios. Where do you notice them showing up for you? Can you relate to any of them? My guess is you can to at least some of them, seeing as this is a natural inherent trait within us as humans. So stay open. Stay curious. And see what you can learn about yourself in this episode. 

Mirroring Undesirable Qualities

So the first way that I often see this come up for myself, for my clients, and generally in the world, is that the thing that drives us absolutely crazy about another person probably bugs us because we have the same trait ourselves in some form or another.

I can’t remember the exact saying, but it’s something like, “when you point your finger at someone you have three pointing back at you.” Something like that. This is true. Seriously. And again, I know this can be uncomfortable to take a look in the mirror. So if you’re getting squirmy with this episode already, I encourage you to — again — stay open. Stay curious. See what you can learn here.

And for the record, the examples I’m sharing today come from my personal experiences because I really want to stress that this is totally normal. So if you do hear yourself doing this, nothing’s gone wrong. It literally means you’re a human with a working brain. But when we can raise our awareness about it, we not only gain a better understanding of why we think this person or that person is challenging and what we want to think about it intentionally. But we also gain so much insight into ourselves so that we can start showing up in a way that we want as well.

I can remember when I was in graduate school, I had a colleague who I thought – frankly – drove me crazy. Now, this was before I had found thought work and the model, and knew that it was my thoughts that created my feelings. So I literally thought it was their fault that they drove me crazy. I thought they were the cause of my annoyance. And the reason why I thought they were so annoying is that they complained all the time.

And I would come home from class,  Ryan would ask me about my day, and I would tell him all about what this person said how they complained about this and complained about that. 

Now you may already be snickering as I share this, because the mirroring concept is in full effect. I listen to my colleague complain, and I come home and all I do is complain about their complaining to poor Ryan. I was literally doing the exact same thing. It was the direct mirroring effect.

And what’s fascinating here is what I learned upon reflection. Again, I didn’t know about the model or about this mirroring concept at that time; I really wish I did. But as I look back, there are so many areas that I can explore and question. Why was it a problem for me that she complained? What was it about the complaining that bothered me? What was I making it mean?

I can see now that I was also quite unhappy during those first few years of grad school, but I wasn’t letting myself see that. I was pushing down my emotions and telling myself everything was fine. So when anybody else complained about it, and they voiced similar opinions to what I was also thinking, but didn’t want to look at, I had all sorts of thoughts about it. I got super judgmental and then turned right around and complained about it to Ryan. It’s crazy how our brains do this.

And this shows up in so many different ways for us. Maybe you feel frustrated because you’re thinking to yourself, this person never listens. They only want to hear their side. They only want to hear what they have to say. They’re completely closed off to any other opinion. Meanwhile, when we are thinking this, we are completely closed off to their opinion or opening up and being curious about what they have to say. And the mirroring effect is in full force once again.

Maybe you know someone who you think is super controlling and rigid. For example, for me, it would drive me crazy when I met someone who I thought was totally inflexible and unwilling to go with the flow or do something different from the way they’d done it in the past.

Well, when we hold up that mirror, the real problem was that I was super controlling and inflexible. I was not interested in doing things differently from the way that I had always done them. That’s what I knew, that’s what worked, and so anyone who wanted to do anything differently could go do it on their own.

Now, I don’t especially love this. It’s not super fun to share this on the podcast with thousands of people. But I think it’s important to note. Because it was through my own study of mirroring that I started discovering these qualities in myself. And when I finally uncovered them, it made a huge difference in my life. First of all, I stopped feeling so annoyed or frustrated when I was around these other people because I realized it wasn’t them. They weren’t doing anything wrong. It was really my own work to do. And from there, I could reassess. Do I want to continue with this practice? Do I want to explore what it might look like to be a little more flexible and go with the flow?

And again – wouldn’t you know it? The moment I started opening up to new options and stopped trying to control everything, those “controlling people” no longer seemed quite so controlling. And in fact, they basically stopped bugging me altogether. Why? Because I changed my thoughts. I am telling you, friends, it only takes one person to change a relationship.

Mirroring Insecurities 

The next category after this direct reflection is often seen as mirroring the opposite or mirroring insecurities. The insecurity lens was a big one for me. I dealt with a lot of self-doubt and insecurity. So when I came across people who were quite confident or vocal or unafraid to share their thoughts and opinions, I would slip into this negative mindset. I’d find myself feeling judgment of them even though the real issue was my own confidence levels.

During graduate school I often found myself feeling super annoyed. I might be at a conference or in a lecture, and I’d notice myself mentally rolling my eyes and thinking about how I was surrounded by so many stuffy know-it-alls. I’d be thinking to myself, all they want to do is hear their own voice. They just love to talk to anyone who will listen. They think they know everything. And I was thinking all of these things and projecting my emotions outward on the other people because, in reality, I was super self-conscious.

I was really insecure about what I knew and didn’t know in grad school. I didn’t have confidence in myself or my ideas. And I hated asking questions or sharing opinions because I didn’t think I was smart enough. But I wasn’t willing to let down my guard and deal with those emotions; it was so much easier to feel annoyed and judge other people.

With that being said, oh my gosh, when you are willing to hold up the mirror and see what the real obstacle is, you learn so much about yourself and your situation. And then you can actually do something about it. In my case, I could start working on my confidence and the imposter syndrome that I dealt with so often during my years in grad school.

Mirroring What You Want

So we have the direct mirror, the mirroring of insecurities or opposites, and then we also have situations where the other person might be mirroring what you truly want. I often see this one come up for people when it comes to feeling jealous. Maybe someone you know got a job promotion, and since you are unhappy in your job, you find yourself feeling a little miffed. And you might not even know why. You might genuinely be confused since you like this person a lot and want them to be successful. But there’s part of you that feels icky.

Chances are, that’s a little bit of jealousy reflecting back in the mirror. They have what you want. This is a beautiful thing too. Because then you have an opportunity to go after it. Sometimes getting that little poke of jealousy helps us realize something we didn’t see ourselves. It helped us think, “Oh. Perhaps I want something different in my life, too. How can I create that for myself?” It doesn’t mean you can’t be incredibly excited and happy for the other person, too. And in fact, you can be doubly excited. You can be happy for them, and you can be grateful for this indication that you are ready for some growth or change as well.

This might sound like your brain offering different versions of the thought “must be nice…” Must be nice to have all that vacation time. It must be nice to not worry about this or that. Must be nice to have so much x y z. 

If your brain is offering different versions of “must be nice” check-in with yourself. Hold up that mirror. What is it that you want here? Because you can be genuinely excited for that other person, and use that excitement as fuel to create that scenario for you, too. Use it as inspiration and let them be an example of what’s possible.

Mirroring the Advice You Need To Hear

So the 4th example focuses on mirroring the advice that you probably need to hear yourself. Again, I know this one all too well, especially when it comes to working too much, taking breaks, and dropping the negative self-talk. Probably the most familiar examples for me as of late – because again, I’m human. I’m dealing with this right alongside you – is the advice I give to my husband. I find myself often telling Ryan to slow down. Take a break. Don’t be so hard on yourself. I tell him over and over, you are working so hard, you deserve to rest. You’re doing the best you can! Is totally going to work out. You got this. Don’t beat yourself up.

And again, when I’m giving this advice, I genuinely mean it when I’m offering it to him. But do you know who likely needs to hear it just as much? Me.

So if you find yourself giving advice or offering suggestions to your kids, your partner, your friend. Hold up that mirror. Do you need to hear a version of this advice as well? Is it something that you could benefit from doing, too? Chances are it is.

In fact, I’ve seen this situation for myself so often that I turned it into a strategy. Now, whenever I am feeling down or I’m struggling to take a break, I go into watcher mode. And I think about myself as if I’m a client. I think about what I would tell one of my clients in this exact same situation. What advice would I give them? 

Alternatively, you might think about what advice you would give your best friend or your daughter or your sister. Think of someone who you love unconditionally; what advice would you give them? Chances are it’s the exact advice that you need for yourself.

Mirroring Your Possibility

All right, now the last form of mirroring that I wanted to talk about today is one that I love. I think it’s such a fun one to examine. And this involves thinking about the people whom you admire. 

So think about the people you most admire in your life. You might know them personally or they might be celebrities or acquaintances. When you have that list of people in mind, think about each one individually. 

What is it that you love about them specifically? What are the unique individual traits that you find so admirable? Avoid using a blanket statement like, they’re just so amazing. Instead, focus specifically on the characteristic you most admire – maybe it’s their generosity or determination or commitment or their ability to speak well on stage or write beautifully, etc. So get really specific about what it is.

The reason why we want to do this is that the trait you admire so much in the other person is a trait that you have yourself as well. And in fact, it’s because you have that trait in yourself that you’re able to see it in them, too. You remember that old saying “you spot it you got it?” That absolutely applies here. (And frankly,it applies to any of these mirroring examples.) But really, if you see that incredible trait in the person, you have that incredible trait in you, too.

You Spot It You Got It

This is why we often admire different qualities in people. This is why you might admire one quality in a certain person and I might admire something completely different about that same person. You are seeing what’s possible for you within them.

So for example, let’s consider Oprah. Because – hello – she’s Oprah. Everybody loves Oprah. So I’m willing to bet that most people listening think that Oprah has tons of extraordinary qualities about her. She is a genuinely remarkable human. 

Now, with that being said, if we surveyed a group of people who all admire Oprah, and we asked them to name the topmost quality that they admire, chances are their answers would be different from one another. Maybe some people admire her generosity while others admire her leadership. Some people might admire her business savvy while others see her determination or her independence as her most powerful characteristic. Again, this depends on the person you’re asking. And this is because they’re seeing their own qualities reflected in her.

So think about the people you most admire. Who stands out in your mind? What do you love about them specifically? Get really clear on those characteristics. And then hold up that mirror. Because the truth is, you have those unique qualities as well. They’re right there waiting for you to tap into them. Because when you spot it you got it. Now it’s time to harness it and put it to use.


All right, I know this is a lot in this episode. I know it’s dense and there’s a lot to look at here. If you found yourself feeling a little edgy or prickly when I was sharing some of these, that’s totally normal. If you found yourself arguing with me for some of these, that’s totally normal too. But I encourage you to stay open and stay curious. Maybe listen to this one more time. Anytime you notice yourself feeling triggered or annoyed, and you think it’s because of another person or the way they’re showing up in the world, maybe return to these ideas.

Because if you are open to dig in and take a look, you’re not only going to learn more about the thoughts that are truly irking you \but you’re also going to learn so much more about yourself. You’ll learn about the potential advice you might need to hear and the incredible strength and possibility that’s waiting for you when you’re willing to hold up that mirror, look within, and question whatever you see.

I’m not going to lie, while this is some powerful work to do, it can also feel pretty challenging. Your brain is going to want to resist it. It won’t want to do this work or look within. BUT if you ARE ready to do the work and take it even further. I’m telling you, it’s life changing. And if you want to take these concepts to the next level and really own your remarkable qualities and start doing what you’re meant to do in the world, I’d love to help you. Head to imbusybeingawesome.com/coaching, sign up for a free consultation with me, and we’ll talk about how to make that happen.

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