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What's your Blind Spot?

What's your Blind Spot?

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One of the very first things they teach you when you're learning to drive is to watch out for "blind spots": those areas that are so close to us that the rear-view mirrors cannot pick them up. We must therefore get out of our comfort zone, turn our heads around and ensure that it is safe to stop or make a necessary turn.

We can apply this metaphor to our own lives at those times when things are "too close" to be properly seen: when our ego and self-love cover up our shortcomings, especially those that only the people closest to us can notice.

I know of someone who, only at the age of seventy, discovered that he tends to talk too much about himself and does not show much interest in others. The price he paid for this was that people were avoiding him. "I wish someone would have pointed it out to me fifty years ago," he said.

There are people who live in denial all their lives and everyone around them is treading on eggshells, afraid to point out what they are doing wrong. Perhaps this is because, in the past, when their blind spots were brought to their attention they reacted very harshly. Because they were not prepared to acknowledge and correct their minor faults, they eventually end up being hit with much bigger problems that could have been avoided.

Wise people are prepared to accept that, as human beings, they are not perfect and that they too have blind spots in their personality. They may appoint a good friend whom they respect and can trust to be honest and open enough to point out their shortcomings. The friend could then, at the appropriate time and place, bring the matter to their attention and may suggest ways to rectify the situation.

Select this person or persons carefully. He or she must be a true friend who has your best interest at heart, and isn't just playing this role to have a go at you or to pull you down.

"When we're doing something right, tell everyone; when we're doing something wrong, tell us" is a common business slogan. It's also the approach used by wise people to get ahead in life. They know that they possess many good qualities but that, at the same time, they probably have others that need some work to be transformed into good traits.

Take action that makes a difference. Find a friend whom you trust and respect and ask him or her to act as your "blind spot checker." Once these are identified, work out an action plan together. Report to your mentor-friend on a regular basis, and you'll find yourself on the road to personal growth and positive development.

Try it -- it works!

Rabbi Yaakov Lieder has served as a teacher and principal, and in a variety of other educational positions, for more than 30 years in Israel, the U.S., and Sydney, Australia. He is the founder and director of the Support Centre to aid families struggling with relationship and child-rearing issues. Click here for more articles by Rabbi Lieder.
About the artist: Sarah Kranz has been illustrating magazines, webzines and books (including five children’s books) since graduating from the Istituto Europeo di Design, Milan, in 1996. Her clients have included The New York Times and Money Marketing Magazine of London.
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Discussion (3)
March 23, 2005
OUR BEST FRIEND?
Given G_d's commandment in Genesis, shouldn't our best friend be our spouse since we are commanded to become one?

I have also found from my life experiences that when I am humble/teachable, the Spirit of G_D lets me know my blind spots/weaknesses. In addition, I find that a way to change my weaknesses/blindspots to strengths is provided bu G_D....
Elder Schell
Phila, PA USA
March 22, 2005
you can't live without friends
Thank you, R' Yaakov & thank you Alexandra for your penetrating words. To quote the ancient Talmudic sages: "O chavruta O mituta" ("Give me freindship or give me death") AND : "Having a good friend is the proper path for a person to take." (Avot) Keep up the good work...
Mendy Mermelstein
March 21, 2005
Very nice metaphor! Having a friend whom we trust completely point out our blind spots is a very good first step indeed. I would like to suggest the second step.

How do we know if the friend was right or just made a mistake? The degree of our emotional response may be used as a key. What blocks our vision, creating blind spots, is emotional or physical hurt we experienced in the past. We may not remember or suppress the memory of it, but when we encounter similar situation, or our friend points at it, we may have a wild emotional reaction or even physical pain. The reaction we experience may serve as an indicator that something really is wrong. Watching our emotional reactions can help us notice our “blind spots” even if we don’t have such a friend. It also can help us to avoid the negative behavior in the future and develop the related positive trait we are currently lacking.

Thank you for your wise and practical teachings!
Alexandra
Brooklyn, NY
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