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Learning to See What You Are Blind To

Have you had “that” moment. The one where you found out something about yourself you were not previously aware of and now that you know it is unflattering and embarrassing?


I had a mini moment recently as I led a meeting. After the meeting, as we were leaving, one of the team asked if I had a tissue. I grabbed the box off the shelf and held it out to him.


He said, “it isn’t for me.”

embarrasing tissue moment

I was confused, he could tell. So, he started pointing at his nose. Getting clearer…then he said ‘It is for you.” Oh! Wow.


Allergies had been rough that day and apparently not everything from my nose was still in my nose. Some of it was escaping the friendly nostril confines on display for others to see but un-noticed by me.


Embarrassing but not life altering. I have experienced much greater blindness and much greater devastation from things I couldn’t see but were plain to others.


A quick rundown would include arrogance alienating peers, sarcasm hurting people I care for, being a know-it-all instead of listening, and letting insecurity drive me to share my opinion about everything with anyone would listen.


It is a wonder I have family and friends!


I have a hunch it is because the people in my life have compassion for me and realize they have a few things they are blind to as well.


There are sneaky corners in our personality, emotions and thinking we don't even know exist until they rear their heads and throw us off course.


Finding these blind spots is important but responding matters the most.


You're doing life, trying to be the best version of you and then bam, out of nowhere (it seems) a conflict at work, a misunderstanding with a friend, a fight with your spouse, or just a nagging feeling that won't go away.


If you are willing to own even a little bit of these unexpected moments you realize maybe, just maybe, you're not as emotionally savvy as you thought. Even more common, as you reflect on the latest dust up you wonder to yourself, “why did I do that again?”


Welcome to the club; we've all been there.

 

One of the first steps in dealing with emotional blind spots is recognizing them. It's like trying to solve a puzzle without knowing what the pieces look like. Sometimes, these blind spots are hidden in the repeated patterns of our behavior or reactions.


For example, do you find yourself getting disproportionately angry over seemingly small things? Maybe you tend to shut down emotionally when faced with vulnerability? These could be clues pointing to underlying blind spots.


Much of my life I have been addicted to being right. My wife calls it being a right-fighter. I want to be right, to be proven right, to show I am right. If I have to argue, debate, or even embarrass someone to prove I am right, so be it.


Disclaimer it is better to be right than wrong!


However, it is easy to be right and still be wrong. As a follower of Jesus, I can be right, but if I go about it the wrong way, and I am wrong even though my position may be right.

Recognizing our blind spots is just the first step. The real work comes in how we respond to them.

It's like shining a light into those dark corners of our minds and saying, "Okay, I see you there. Now what?"

Jesus’ teaching about forgiveness can be incredibly helpful when dealing with emotional blind spots. In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive someone who wrongs him, suggesting seven times. But Jesus replies, "Not seven times, but seventy times seven."


No, he's not saying we should literally forgive someone 490 times and then call it quits. Jesus is emphasizing the boundless nature of forgiveness.


[Complete side note: I had a classmate in grad school who carried a small notebook with people’s names in it. He put a tic mark next to someone’s name every time they did something he didn’t like. He was keeping track of forgiveness so he would know when he could stop forgiving! Not shocking he wasn’t very popular.]


Forgiveness isn't about letting go of resentment towards others; it's also about extending grace to ourselves. When we confront our emotional blind spots, it's easy to beat ourselves up, to wallow in self-criticism and shame.


We need to approached ourselves with the same compassion and forgiveness that we offer to others. This isn’t letting ourselves off the hook. It is recognizing we, like everyone else, have opportunities for improvement.

 

I'll be honest, this is easier said than done. It takes practice and patience especially if are driven and are fueled by achievement. Question would you berate, criticize, and call your friend a failure when they fall short? Then why would you do it to yourself?


Everyone, including you, makes more progress, sees more sustained growth, and finds change more fulfilling in an environment with grace and truth.


Let's talk about making progress. Once we've recognized our blind spots and responded to them with compassion, how do we actually move forward?


This is where wisdom comes into play, this time from the book of Philippians.


In Philippians 3:13-14, the apostle Paul writes, "Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."


There's so much packed into these two verses, but one key takeaway is the idea of letting go of the past and focusing on the future. When we're dealing with emotional blind spots, it's easy to get bogged down by our past mistakes and failures. But dwelling on what's behind us only keeps us stuck in place. Instead, we need to keep our eyes on the prize, to press forward with eyes focused on Christ.


This means embracing a growth mindset, understanding the past does not define your future. Yes, I've made mistakes. Yes, I've stumbled and fallen more times than I can count. As long as I keep moving forward, as long as I keep pressing on toward that higher calling, I know that I'm making progress, however slow it may seem at times.


You are not alone. We all have blind spots, we all have struggles, but we also have the power to overcome them. With compassion, forgiveness, and a steadfast determination to keep pressing forward, we can navigate even the trickiest of emotional terrain.


Recognize your blind spots. You can’t defeat what you don’t define.


Put your focus on Christ, not your failing.


Ask for help. This is an inside job. Go to the one who changes hearts…because that is what must happen with a blind spot.


You need God to change your heart, the behavior will follow. This isn’t a willpower thing. It if was you would have done something about it already. You need God’s strength to be made perfect in your weakness.


Psalm 139:23-24 says, "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."


Approach your emotional blind spots with humility and courage, trusting with God's power and guidance, you will find healing and wholeness.



 

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