Chapter 3: Know Your Blind Spots

"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit and listen.”
Sir Winston Churchill

Have you ever wondered how someone could not see her faults? It is so obvious to you that she is arrogant, critical, a perfectionist, needy, inconsiderate, talkative, or aggressive. How could the person be so completely oblivious to what seems to you to be habitual, ob- vious patterns of behaviour? Well, what if we all had these elements of our personality or style that are not that pretty, or inappropriate patterns of behaviour that seem totally obvious to others? Yes, you too may have certain behaviours that others see very clearly, but that are blind spots to you. The question is, do you have the courage to recognize, reflect, and act on what you learn about yourself?

Blind Spots Revealed

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, a blind spot is “an area in which one fails to exercise judgment or discrimination.” You can think about it in terms of driving a car: blind spots are places where your side mirror cannot reflect what is there. For ex- ample, if a bicycle pulls up beside your car, it may be in your blind spot. Even though the bicycle is actually there, you can’t see it. For our discussion, blind spots will be aspects of who we are that we cannot see clearly. Blind spots develop out of fear. We are afraid to lose control. We are afraid to be vulnerable. We are afraid to be “found out,” and that our inadequacies will be open for all to see. We are afraid of the invisible enemies who might disrupt our world, our values, or our belief systems. The fear takes root in our mind and holds on tightly, not wanting to let go. When a situation arises and our fear creates a response, we consider the situation and our response to be integrated, as if the response flows logically from the situation. If my colleague is tapping his pencil incessantly on his desk and I yell “Stop doing that!”, it is easy to view the tapping and my response as being integrated. My response flows from the situation that my colleague created. Therefore, there is a natural sense of justification in my reaction. I believe that my reaction to the situation was appropriate. In reality, the situation (the pencil tapping) and my response (yelling) are separate and distinct. One does not flow from the other. I have chosen my reaction to the sit- uation. When we automatically or unconsciously link a situation to our response to it, the sense of justification is inherently there. In our simple example of the tapping pencil, the situation seems in- flexible and closed to me. I feel that there is nothing left to do but yell at my colleague. When we feel that a situation is inflexible and closed, the words and actions that follow are also inflexible and closed.

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