647: Reflection

The title of today’s post (in case you didn’t notice) is “Reflection.”

Exactly 104 days ago (but who’s counting?), I wrote a post with the title “Reflections”.

Here’s a definition of the word  “reflection,” (according to Merriam-Webster.com):



: an image that is seen in a mirror or on a shiny surface

: something that shows the effect, existence, or character of something else

: something that causes people to disapprove of a person or thing

WHAT?!?!  I will reflect something with you now: I disapprove of that last definition. I have never heard such a judgmental, negative description of “reflection” before!

My understanding of “reflection”  is that it’s a neutral word.  If we reflect negatively or disapprovingly, that’s our choice (and not intrinsic in the word itself).

Rather than reflect further on what Merriam Webster could possibly have been thinking there, I shall try another dictionary site. How about dictionary.com?

[ri-flek-shuh n]
Synonyms Examples Word Origin
1. the act of reflecting or the state of being reflected.
2. an image; representation; counterpart.
3. a fixing of the thoughts on something; careful consideration.
4. a thought occurring in consideration or meditation.
5. an unfavorable remark or observation.
6. the casting of some imputation or reproach.
7. Physics, Optics.
the return of light, heat, sound, etc., after striking a surface.
something so reflected, as heat or especially light.


#5 and #6, at dictionary.com, are negative, too!

Honestly, I am shocked. Throughout my life, I have been assuming that “reflection” does not imply anything negative, by itself.

I’m reflecting, now, whether I’ve been naive and in denial, all this time.

Or, perhaps, the definition of “reflection” has changed in my lifetime. That can happen, you know.  Any language, including English,  can shift and change (even though we may not want it to).

If the definition of “reflection” has changed — since I first learned it — to a more judgmental one, I’m reflecting  that might have happened during the time I’ve been working on letting go of judgment (here and elsewhere).

Another reflection, from me: that would be ironic.

I am going to re-reflect a definition, one more time, to see if it reflects my own experience of “reflection.”

Here’s the definition reflecting from Google, right now:


1. the throwing back by a body or surface of light, heat, or sound without absorbing it.
“the reflection of light”
synonyms: sending back, throwing back, casting back
“the reflection of light”

2.  serious thought or consideration.
“he doesn’t get much time for reflection”
synonyms: thought, thinking, consideration, contemplation, deliberation, pondering, meditation, musing, rumination; formal cogitation
“after some reflection, he turned it down”


I’ll reflect this:  I like that definition MUCH better. The last line DOES reflect somebody responding in the negative.  However, as I’ve discussed with people many times, turning down something — saying “NO!” — is often a healthy expression of setting limits and honoring the importance of your own needs and preferences.

Okay! Now that I’ve found a definition that reflects my preferences, what else can this post reflect back at you?

Here are some recent photos that reflect today’s topic (in order of their reflections in my retina and my iPhone).


IMG_0404 IMG_0415  IMG_0461

That last photo shows a reflection of Melvin, who is leaving Starbucks and the state of Massachusetts today. I’ve been reflecting this to him, since I found out he was leaving: I’m going to miss him.

Melvin may not like that reflection when he sees it,  and he might ask me to remove that photo from this post.

Why? Because nobody seems to like the photos I take of them! Do you think that’s a reflection of

  • my photos or
  • something else?


IMG_0175 *

Melvin lets me keep that photo in this post.

Because, if he does, that’s


Thanks to all reflections in this post and — of course! — to you, for reflecting with me, here today.

* Last week, I wrote about that pink sign on a door at work, and we reflected here that it might say “hope” OR “nope.” I promised I would check the other side, and reflect that back to you in a future post.

Ooops!  I could have sworn I reflected the other side of that sign onto my iPhone camera, but I can’t find it anywhere.

You’ll just have to trust this reflection: The other side was blank.

Any reflections on that?

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , | 23 Comments

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23 thoughts on “647: Reflection

  1. I never thought of reflection as being negative either Ann! Of course, what we reflect is a reflection of our own thinking … so maybe those folks were the negative ones 🙂
    Thank you for the different perspectives and reflections!

    • Here’s a reflection for you, Val: as you were typing this comment, I was reflecting and commenting on your wonderful blog. Thank YOU for your different perspectives and reflections!

  2. I had no clue about the negative definitions of reflection, I was surprised to read that this morning!

  3. Reflecting on reflection in a negative way made me think of how most of us women see our reflection in the mirror as something negative as well Ann… 😦
    Diana xo

  4. Great reflections on reflections!

  5. I think the definition writers got up on the wrong side of the bed on the day they tackled the Re words, Ann, because I refuse to believe that considering the effects before rendering a decision has only a negative connotation tied to it. That simply cannot be. One can think hard, ponder, and come away with a postitive decision. Take that Merriam, Webster, Dot and Com.

  6. That is new to me about the definition of the word. I think the last one is my understanding of the word too. I am wondering why judge the meaning of a word too 🙂

  7. If there’s anything it’s okay to cast judgment on, it’s a definition. Therefore, I’ll feel free to break the rules and say that those definitions reflect poorly on the word reflection. But reflection’s all in the eye of the beholder, yeah? It has never ceased to amaze me that a reflection of a duck on patch of water on a pond is visible only to the eye seeing the duck’s reflection, on that specific patch of water which someone else could be looking at from a different angle and seeing a slop of green, or sun speckling off it, or I dunno a trout? I start to get lost about it all but what it comes down to is that a definition of reflection, as most definitions, is even more so metaphoric than other definitions once you get past the initial definition of the physical phenomenon. So therefore, and so and so, quid pro quo and summa cum laude, it follows following all that latin that those definitions stink.

  8. Pingback: Day 648: The Goodbye Look | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  9. Gene Phillips

    I too was taken aback by the negative definitions of “reflection.” A bit a googling around led me to the conclusion that “reflection” on its own actually has no negative connotations even if “poor reflection,” as in “It’s a poor reflection on x that y happens,” seems considerably more common than “good reflection.” We do not need to adopt such habits of speech or let them reflect on reflection.

  10. Pingback: Day 655: How to freak less | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  11. Pingback: Day 659: Undone | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  12. Pingback: Day 681: Not love | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

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