What are Blind Spots?
If you drive, you no doubt have had the experience of being about to change lanes only to discover that there is another vehicle just behind you in that lane which you didn’t see. The reason you didn’t see it was because the car was in your blind spot. The Cambridge Dictionary describes blind spot as “an area you are not able to see, especially the part of the road you cannot see while driving … it can be very dangerous”. As people, we also have ‘blind spots’ in our personality. Basically they are faults or unhealthy patterns of behaviour which continually cause us grief. They are also very dangerous but we are unaware of our blind spots or faults, and so never change.
Examples of Blind Spots
Let me give you an example. Someone I know lived in share households with other young people. His flatmates always complained that he was a slob and he had been ejected from more than one house, but if you’d asked him if he was untidy, he’d tell you he was no messier than other guys his age. That was untrue. His lack of hygiene was his blind spot. I’m sure you have friends with blind spots. For example, some people are chronically disorganised at work. Some people are weighed down by the past. They never get over loss or defeat or injustice, and every day lament their setbacks so never move forward. They never heal.
Identifying Blind Spots
It is very hard to ‘fix’ a blind spot when you don’t know what it is. How do you go about identifying a blind spot? I believe there are three key ways people find their blind spots. First, you could ask other people to help you find your blind spot. Tell your closest friends and family members that you want to identify the faults that are slowing you down. You could ask them to write down two to three sentences that describe your greatest weakness. Instruct them not to be overly critical, but to simply state which behaviours are limiting your success or damaging your personal relationships. If you do this exercise, be prepared for criticism. You also have to promise yourself that you won’t be upset by the points your friends and family make. This is easier said than done. There is every chance that if you do this exercise you will be deeply hurt by some of their comments and it could damage the relationship permanently. You could take a more casual approach to identifying your blind spot. Every day ask one person if there is anything about you, a fault, that you don’t see but others do. Start with your family and friends but also ask acquaintances. Sometimes people who don’t know you well, understand you more than your closest friends. Regardless of the answer, you need to thank the person for their honest appraisal. Now write this feedback down and forget about it until you are home alone and can assess it honestly. If you truly believe the feedback says more about the other person’s problems than your own, discount it, but if you keep getting the same feedback again and again. These people probably have a point.
Seek Help from Coaching or Mentoring
If you decide you want others to help identify your blind spot you could consider employing a life coach for a few weeks or months. While researching and interviewing life coaches, explain that you do want to work on your blind spots. Perhaps you already have some idea what your blind spot is. You may be too exacting – ask too much from others and are overly critical. If you ask a life coach or mentor to work with you on identifying blind spots you will not be risking your personal relationships.
Trauma and Blind Spots
The second way most people identify their blind spot is through trauma. People suffer a life crisis, and the pain prompts them to have a long hard look at how they have been behaving. For example, I know men and women who’ve suffered multiple relationship breakdowns and they finally realise that they have been going out with the same type of person again and again. I have a female friend who married three men who were very handsome, very flamboyant, loved to be the centre of attention and proved to be very selfish husbands. After my friend’s third marriage ended she started seeing a counsellor and identified her blind spot. Her father had been a very ostentatious, grandiose man and she was basically attracted to men who reminded her, on some level, of her father. Now my friend is going out with a very unassuming, ordinary-looking bloke, who is the salt of the earth. He is caring, reliable, loving and wonderful company. But it took my friend three broken marriages and a huge amount of heart ache and grief to identify her blind spot. Sometimes trauma incites people to look for and identify their blind spot.
Go through a checklist
The third way of finding a blind spot is to basically run through a checklist of faults and spend time assessing whether you suffer these traits. Ask yourself:
- Am I rarely on time and usually running late?
- Do I not stand up for myself and say no when other’s make unreasonable demands on me? Or do I say yes just to avoid conflict or displeasing others?
- Am I always impatient? Do I find that nothing and no one moves fast enough for me and I’m always hurrying and irritated?
- Do I talk more than I listen? Do I often interrupt people, and dominate conversations?
- Do I have trouble making up my mind? Do I need to take time to think, but often the thinking leads to more indecisiveness and confusion?
- Do I dislike change? I may come around to it eventually, but am I always resistant initially?
- Do I keep having the same kind of relationships with different people? I am always the giver in the relationships and my partner takes more than they contribute, and shows me little care or affection.
- Do I realise the impact I have on other people? Am I constantly asking friends and family to do little jobs for me? Do I often ask for help? You may be someone that uses others and takes people for granted.
- Do you settle often for second best because deep down you do not think that you are worthwhile?
- Do you value being right over being effective? Do you damage relationships because you like to make points?
- Do you blame other people when things go wrong, but never look at the role you played or accept responsibility?
- Does my luck never change? I believe we create our own luck by focusing on what we want and where we are going. I also believe in being unrelentingly kind and generous to others. Inevitably good things come our way, but you have to have faith in yourself and persevere, even though it might take time.
- People describe me in a way that I don’t see myself. People are always telling me that I’m messy, disorganised, late, distracted. Sometimes we don’t recognise our good traits. It’s not uncommon for attractive people to think they are ugly! Listen to people’s compliments and criticisms.
Time for Change
It takes real courage to identify our blind spots. The next step of course is to change our behaviour and that is where the work really beings. I recommend getting a good self-help book on the subject. You may also consider seeing a life coach or counsellor. You are going to need to devote time and energy to mental exercises to help you change your behaviour. Just recognising your blind spots will begin to change you. The more aware people are of their faults the more likely they are to recognise unhealthy behaviour in them self. Remember this is not an exercise in self-flagellation. You accept that other people aren’t perfect, so don’t waste too much time beating yourself up, instead change or eradicate unhealthy behaviour so you can prosper and grow and reach your potential.
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ABOUT PAT MESITI
Pat Mesiti is a best-selling author, coach and educator in the area of personal development. Having built some of Australia’s largest people-driven organisations, Pat understands the power of harnessing human potential. He has shared the stage with some of the world’s great business minds and has sold over millions of copies of his books and materials.