If you are a human being..chances are you have one thing that aggravates the important person in your life. Something you do in a relationship that creates friction. For many of us that thing we do is a blind spot for us. We don’t see it, we just see ourselves being who we are.
For me, in my first marriage, it was that I cared too much about every little thing. Or in his words, I was too critical. I sliced everything in half, every time. It wasn’t that I was a perfectionist it was more like I was a professional critiquer. Is that a word? I never missed an opportunity where I could remark on where there was room for improvement. I don’t think I did it in a mean way. But if I was asked my opinion, I’d give it. No harm no foul.
That was my thing, and I truly didn’t see anything wrong with it. I was a teacher, a mother, an analytical person. I saw it more as a gift I was giving of constructive criticism. I know…blind spot. Big one. Had I been married to a typical guy that trait in me would have been snuffed out long ago. But I was married to a very passive, patient, shy man who didn’t feel comfortable confronting me about anything. That is, until it was too late and he’d had it. So that was my big mistake. It wasn’t the only mistake but that was my big one.
I don’t blame myself for him having an affair. I think a lot of factors worked together to bring that one about. I don’t blame myself for the failure of my marriage. But yes, that was a factor. So when he finally told me how it effected him, my eyes were open with compassion toward him. Truly. I felt so bad and I wanted to make it up to him. I never realized it from his perspective – ever. I was just being me. It was literally like a light bulb going off in my head or a veil being lifted and I saw my blind spot for the first time.
I worked for a year and half trying to convince him that I learned that lesson. Other factors worked against us during that time too. My efforts failed. He left. But I vowed to keep that lesson learned.
Everyone has a blind spot and because it’s hidden, we need to either be very introspective, or have a very good friend or lover, who we respect and will listen to in order to figure it out. What’s yours?
If you’ve had multiple relationships you can usually trace it back. What’s the one thing you keep going over in your head after the break up. When I did this…he backed away. This didn’t work. That thing pushed him away instead of make it better. If you can peg that thing…you’ve found it.
Sometimes reversing it is as easy as applying simple psychology to yourself. You have to be intentional about choosing something else.
My Harry told me the other night that when he first fell in love with me that he didn’t want to because he knew it would change things for him. In his words, he said, “I knew it meant that I would lose control and that scared me.” Harry had been in a series of relationships previous to me that put him in the driver’s seat. He chose women who he knew he had the upper hand with in different ways. He also knew that he was unhappy but he could wrap his head around it, so it felt comfortable…comfortably numb.
But this was a pattern for him that he knew wasn’t getting him what he wanted ultimately. It got him through, but didn’t bring him contentment and happiness. With me, he saw the end game and he knew he had to break his pattern and let a strong, independent woman into his life in order to get it. And that scared him.
I countered his claim though and said, “Harry, have you ever thought that all those choices you made with other women were you on autopilot? You were not really making a choice at all but falling in line with a pattern? Maybe that was your blind spot? Maybe by allowing yourself to be comfortably numb you were actually very OUT of control. And choosing me meant taking true control back and making a choice that was good for you?”
He looked at me and said, “Wow, I have never thought about it that way, but you’re right. I was scared because I knew I was choosing what was good for me, not what was easy. I think you’re right.”
Overcoming our blind spots can be very scary because often times we do them without conscious thinking and when we intentionally try to do something different it feels wrong at first. But if we can step back far enough, and look objectively at our patterns, we can change. For the better. We do have the power and we can have control over our choices.
Here is another example I witnessed recently.
I have a friend on Facebook whose husband left to fill a BBQ tank and didn’t come home for an hour. No call, so she called him to see where he was. His lack of communication put a hint of suspicion in her that I’m sure she allowed to surface in their conversation, which he reacted to defensively. I’m sure you could guess that his defensiveness ticked her off and made her more suspicious. It was bad enough that this was all aired on Facebook for all of her friends to see. But then she took it too far as far as I’m concerned. And this in my estimation is her blind spot.
When he got home, she decided she had no more kindness to give and chose to punish her husband with the cold shoulder and revert to her bedroom. She didn’t see this as an active choice she was making. She saw it as a reaction to her stressful day and that she had just “had it.” But her reaction gave her husband no reason to be loving, or understanding toward her. She was allowing herself to do what came naturally as a child would with sore feelings after being scolded. What she should have done when he got home, was give warmth and love to her husband who as it ended up was exactly where he said he was…filling the BBQ tank. It took so long because the machine used to fill it broke down and there was a line. His only mistake was a typical guy mistake of not calling to let her know. She knew this when she chose to give him the cold shoulder and make him pay. She knew he really had done nothing wrong. But she chose to put her needs of wanting to vent and unwind from the stress alone above the needs of the relationship. Big blind spot. She probably didn’t realize how that made him feel. Here he was just doing what he said and now he was in trouble because he forgot to call. So he broods downstairs and she broods upstairs.
What she should have done was give her husband a big hug when he got home and say, “I’m so sorry for being wiggy back then, I just love you so much and I hate the thought of anything happening that could come between us. I let my imagination get the best of me. It would really help me when you are going to be late to call.” And give him a kiss. “Please call me and I promise I will not react like that anymore. I love you. Now let’s BBQ.” The result then would have been that he feels loved and respected, she gets to tell him exactly what she needs, for him to call when he’s going to be late. How simple is that. Instead of creating reactive conflict!
Usually our blind spots are what we do in reactive mode. Without thinking. Our blind spots are selfish in nature because we do them to meet a need we have. What is yours and how do you think you can go about changing your own pattern?
It might be what saves your relationship. Think about it.