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Friday, April 14, 2017

Blind Spots Anyone?

Written by  Janan Broadbent, Ph.D.

And how to see them

Have you had discussions or arguments with others when one person or both are said to be “not listening”? When you hear that said to you, what do you think? Do you take it seriously and take it to heart? We all have blind spots. With some, those take up a huge area of their self-concept and thereby impede understanding why one does or says things unintentionally. Put another way, it ends up with a person not expressing what they feel or believe, again unconsciously.

Blind spots are obstacles to effective and open communication, and so they make it difficult to establish and maintain a health and happy relationship. How would you deal with them? If you don’t know what is there, how do you even start to address them? One of the answers is in that concept du jour: Mindfulness. Its definition focuses on being reflective or thoughtful about the present. It is not meditation or just listening to your own mind state. It is taking in all that is going around you and within you. In other words, not giving space to your blind spots. Our brains have a tremendous capacity to note what is going on in and around us, through our senses and perceptual capabilities. The challenge is to make use of the mind and body sensitivities. But that challenge does not end there. Once you become aware of all that information, then the work of the mind is to sort through what is painful, what is joyful, all the while accepting that thoughts and mental states come and go. In that acceptance lies the key to not hanging on to the always varying contents of our awareness, but accepting them as part of life, and that can facilitate reducing blind spots.

One of the hard realities to deal with is discovering that you have traits just like the parent you could not get along with. Or that parent you vowed never to be like. And then one day, a partner will throw it at you: You are just like your mother, or your father. Typically this comes in a moment of anger. Sometimes you come to see it on your own and it is a huge “Aha!” moment. Yes, you just found a blind spot. Now you can work with it, change it if you don’t like it, and understand that we all have, or had, parents who were the models of behavior we emulated. Yet we do not have to continue to emulate if we do not like the behavior or the trait, and the insight provides us with the choice to intensify or to change.

In this effort to discover your blind spots and be mindful of the present experiences, use that tool of curiosity. It is a tool that can side-step judgmentalness and so avoid going down the dead end of defensiveness in a relationship. Try to look into why you or your partner may behave in a certain way and with curiosity, look to improve how you can both do things differently to bring joyful and positive times.

May you all move forward with fewer blind spots and a healthier space to grow in…

Send comments/questions to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or on Twitter @DrJananB.

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