A person can see himself better when he mirrors himself in others.God has granted each and everyone of us the virtue or gift that we each need for our particular progress,regardless whether it is actually used or not.If the gift is used,one can achieve perfection.The failings and defects also are ours; whether we acquire them from our own neglect or inherit them from our parents,each one of us must undertake the necessary struggle to be released from them.
Until we uproot our defects,we should mirror ourselves in the defects of others and examine where we stand.For other people are a mirror in which we see ourselves.For example,if we see a certain failing in another person,we should immediately say,"Let me see,could I possibly have this same defect also?"And when we see that we have it,then we can struggle to cast it out.
-But,Elder,if my thought tells me that I don't have this same defect,what should I say to myself?
-You should say,"I have other more serious defects;this failing is very small compared to my own."For even if your failings and defects are sometimes smaller,you may bear greater responsibility for them.By examining ourselves in this manner,we can see that we have greater defects than the next person.Then we can also take notice of the virtues of others."Let me see,do I have this virtue?No,I don't.Look at how far I still am from where I should be!"One who works this way stands to benefit from all things,changes for the better and achieves perfection.Such a person benefits from the Saints,from those who struggle,even from worldly people.On seeing a worldly person who is selfless and sacrifices himself,one can be motivated to say,"do I have such philotimo?No,I don't,and I'm supposed to be a spiritual person!"And so he tries to imitate even the worldly person in whatever he sees in him.Each one of us has a great deal of spiritual work to do.Our Benevolent God wisely provides everything for our good.
Taken from ELDER PAISIOS OF MOUNT ATHOS ,Spiritual Counsels Vol 3 "SPIRITUAL STRUGGLE".