When I think about the idea of a blind spot, the first thing that comes to mind for me is the crucial shoulder check before changing lanes. Making sure that the danger zone is not occupied (because it often is) before making a move. I am often still shocked to see a hovering car not picked up my mirrors and peripheral vision.
But in shoulder checking our life, our personal blind spots are tough to see as our undesirable characteristics can sometimes be hidden from view. We can see that our results are less than stellar at times, but it is not always clear what is getting in our way. We try hard at life, we are good people, and we all deserve happiness, but often it feels like we are just spinning our wheels and getting nowhere.
Why are the blind spots in our lives so hard to see? If they are hurting us and moving us away from our hopes and dreams, shouldn’t they be in plain sight? The short answer is yes they should be obvious. But the longer answer is that our blind spots can be caused by characteristics we like or even love about ourselves.
We may love how good a friend we can be, but in turn, invite many toxic and unhealthy relationships close to us. We may pride ourselves on how loyal we are and then stay far too long in a job or relationship that treats us poorly and diminishes our spirit and mental health. We may be celebrated for what a hard worker we are and the corresponding financial achievements, but our personal relationships and health may be in ruin as we have no time or energy to take care of them. These are just some examples of common traits we like/love about ourselves that can create blind spots that can hurt our happiness and health in the long run.
Our attention is drawn to the accomplishment, many friends, long-standing relationships, steady jobs, and financial success. But the prices we are paying are hidden behind the scenes and are often far exceeding the rewards we are receiving. This imbalance is why we need to have the awareness that we sometimes have blind spots running the show and taking us away from being the conscious leader of our own lives.
I know for me one of my biggest struggles has been around seeing my self-worth and capabilities both personally and professionally. So many times I would hear from others, “I wish you could see what we can see”. From my perspective, I was always looking for more proof that I was capable. Unfortunately for me, these self-imposed measures were always a moving target with an ever-increasing expectation of success. No matter the positive feedback or accomplishments I achieved my inner critic was never fully satisfied with my results. Because of this if I ever faced a minuscule amount of external criticism it would absolutely crush my spirit bringing on a fight or flight reaction. I had created a giant blind spot around my own hard work and accomplishments, rarely giving myself credit and often being overly self-critical. This created a no-win situation for me of always striving for more and rarely being grateful for what I had. I am sure this sounds familiar to many reading this?
So how do we live more aware that we have active blind spots running in all areas of our daily lives? Here are a few suggestions:
- Be willing to tell the truth to ourselves that we all have blind spots, give them credit that they once served a purpose at some point in our lives and that now it is time to re-evaluate their usefulness.
- Adopt a commitment to growth, we cannot run our lives on autopilot and expect radically different results. Embracing that a certain amount of our time, money, and energy needs to be invested in our #1 resource: YOU.
- Spending time with like-minded people. Hanging out with folks that also want to grow and shine a light on their blind spots will significantly speed up the process of you seeing yours. We all act as mirrors to each other and have much more in common than differences.
We are all doing our best with what we know in this moment. Blind spots are tricky as often they have helped us in the past, but as they persist they begin to hurt our ability to thrive and keep us stuck in a loop. Blind spots are not a human flaw but just a way our brain helps us be more productive and protect us from harm.
Be open to shoulder checking your life, because what is hiding there unseen, could be holding you back from your best life, or alternatively be the very thing you have been spending your life searching for. Either way, it is definitely worth a moment for a second look.