When driving an unfamiliar car, one of the first things you may do is adjust the mirrors, looking for the car’s blind spots. Your mind also has blind spots.
The mind’s blind spots are a way of narrowing what you can take-in. You can’t notice everything or you would be on sensory overload.
Human beings unconsciously filter what they “decide” to pay attention to (we will explain in a moment why “decide” is in quotes).
The question becomes what do you decide to ignore, and what do you decide to pay attention to?
Most people pay attention to what makes them feel good, comfortable and familiar. We look for people who are like us, foods that make us comfortable (especially during stressful times) and avoid things that scare or make us uncomfortable.
What you choose to ignore may become your obstructed view—your blind spot.
Your choices, experiences and thoughts form your life. Your blind spots grow deeper with every decision that confirms what you already believe and what you choose to ignore or deny.
It becomes easier and easier to keep choosing the same habits and ideas and not even try to forge a new path. In the TED* work we call this your default way of thinking, interacting and taking action.
And this is why we put “decide” in quotes. Your unconscious decisions lead to a filtering of what you pay attention to and eventually become your blind spots.
The definition of a psychological blind spot is this: Unconscious and unintentional behavior you convey to other people that is visible to them but invisible to you. That’s powerful! No wonder our blind spots can keep us in the drama.
Here’s a metaphor for how the blind spot can run your life: Picture an old dirt road after an intense rain storm. You have a powerful 4-wheel drive truck that digs deep ruts from the huge tires that tunnel and spin through the mud. The sun comes out and dries the two ruts. Rather than trying to forge a new path, it is easier to just keep driving in the two existing tracks.
That’s how your blind spots are formed in your brain. You choose over and over again to stay on the same track and the neuropathways get formed, which allows the blind spots to be… well, invisible!
How do you see what you don’t see? You can see your spouse’s or co-worker’s blind spots before you see your own. AND, they can see your blind spots before you see yours.
We both continue to learn about our blind spots. Earlier in David’s career, when he was in a corporate leadership role, he received feedback through a 360-degree feedback process (The Leadership Circle Profile, which we now use in our coaching). While his feedback was mostly positive, he came to see how his pleasing and rescuing behavior as a manager was his blind spot. Instead of holding this team accountable, he unconsciously contributed to their poor performance.
Donna’s positive outlook on life can be her blind spot if she chooses not to anticipate challenges that might be on the horizon. Learning a healthy sense of skepticism has been important to face her blind spot of ongoing optimism.
Take a moment now and be honest with yourself. What is one of your blind spots? If you are not sure, ask someone close to you for feedback. And allow yourself to hear what they say as a Challenger, (not a Persecutor!) to help you learn and grow as a Creator.