I’ve been thinking about lately is the idea of blind spots and how they relate to relationship and intimacy.
We all have aspects of ourselves that are unknown to us. Ways of being that we can’t see that are often unconscious and cause us to do or act in ways we seemingly have no control over.
Our blind spots often stem from places of lack and often have roots from our upbringing and ancestral or familial patterns.
I share a lot about how awareness is a vital part of conscious relationships. The ability to non-judgmentally name what is happening is what gives us access to reflection, choice, and ultimately change.
All relationships will inevitably face challenges. There really is no way for two humans to interact on a deep, meaningful level without stuff coming up.
This is why intimate relationships can be either beautiful experiences of growth and transformation or can feel like constant grids of trigger and confrontation.
I see that these moments of trigger, challenge, and insecurity can be viewed in two very different ways. We can either see them as obstacles, roadblocks to getting what we think we want, and reasons to play the blame or victim game.
Or we can see them as opportunities for growth, reflections of the current state of our internal world, and manifestations of our deeper needs that seek to be heard, felt, and loved in their innocence.
The difference between whether we see challenge or opportunity in the face of disagreement or discord is often rooted in how we approach the relationship as well as the intention we bring into a relationship dynamic.
As dramatic as it sounds, I believe that as humans, we are all intrinsically flawed.
Like precious gems, we have the capacity to shine brightly and reflect our beauty, but only after a period of attention, friction, and refinement.
The process of turning a stone into a gem isn’t easy. Often this comes in the form of rubbing, chiseling, and sometimes even requires cracking through old layers of stone that aren’t part of the gem itself.
Like these gems, the old layers of dirt, earth, and sediment can be considered our history, upbringing, traumas, and patterns.
In conscious relationship, we approach the unrefined aspects of ourselves and our partners not as flaws, but as opportunities to see what’s underneath and to loving process whatever is in the way of our brilliance.
The challenge is that as much as we may want to shine bright; the hard, rough, and unrefined parts of our being are often unknown to us.
From our inner perspective, the amount of light that shines into the gemstone of our being is just enough, and often the possibility of there being more light can be utterly absurd.
Ironically, even when we are actively in a conscious relationship, and the good-intentioned process of chiseling begins, we resist because it is hard for us to see past the limitations of our ego.
As social creatures it’s vital that we know ourselves, fully and deeply. Within each of us, we hold inner beliefs which inform our relational values, which lead to real-world actions, and results in experienced impact.
Even more important when it comes to conscious growth is how we navigate the process of discerning the thoughts, beliefs, values, and subsequent actions from how we engage with the world, and to extract that which does not serve.
But as much as I may know and see myself in all the ways I can, there are blind spots, or unconscious aspects, of my behavior, communication, and impact that are hard for me to see.
What’s ironic about our blind spots, is how most of us already have a sense of what they are!
The path of Mastery asks of us to courageously engage, refine, and shine our light on the aspects of our unresolved humanity that is already part of our identity, regardless of how much we would like to escape it.
Sometimes seeing these aspects of ourselves comes with a groan and facepalm, sometimes a chuckle, and sometimes revelations of impact and power dynamics are hard to be with, accept, and integrate.
When I’m hit with a reflection of how my actions, words, or intentions have created harm or hurt in another, it’s hard not to be flooded with a swirl of emotions, sensations, and self-judgment.
While there are ways to mitigate and manage the emotional process of receiving our blind spots, I’ve found what’s more important to be how I relate to them.
On the one hand, a part of us wants to avoid, negate, and even push away what we don’t like or want to see about ourselves. This can lead to passive aggression, resentment, and all kinds of stuff that gets in the way of authentic and easeful relating.
Owning the impact and influence of our experience requires both self-reflection and backbone, although seeing ourselves has its limits. Often what we miss, our blind spots, are what creates the most impact and dissonance in our relationships and external world.
We’re not supposed to see our blind spots, but we are responsible for them.
As an individual, we aren’t expected to know what we don’t know. But as humans in connection, I do believe it is our responsibility to be open to perspectives outside ourselves, especially if our actions create impact that harms others.
One of the best ways to become aware and integrate our blind spots is by eliciting insight and perspective from those we trust, have experience of us, and are generous in spirit.
The process of becoming Aware of ourselves doesn’t always require others. Still, one of the best ways to become aware and integrate our blind spots is by asking for reflection, perspective, and direct feedback from those who we trust, have experience of us, and are generous in spirit.
Here is what I call the three-step ARA Process for Blind Spots:
The first step to working with blind spots is to be open to the idea that we have them. Sometimes simply acknowledging that we have unconscious patterns and habits that play out in our relationships gives us access to awareness we didn’t have before.
Blind spots often show up in times of stress, emotional challenge, or confrontation. Therefore I have found the most gentle way to work with them comes after or when a situation has settled. Often when we are triggered or in a place of reaction, it’s just not the best time to process or assess from a place of clarity.
After the dust has settled, we can begin asking questions. Why did I do what I did? Why did I react that way? What caused me to become angry, sad, or lose control?
Sometimes this can be done effectively through personal inquiry. By journaling or some other creative outlet, we can find answers that are often out of reach.
And sometimes, it helps to have the reflection of another. Especially in the case of repeated events or actions, our partners can lovingly show us what we may not be seeing.
When I work with couples, setting the context for meaningful reflection and feedback is vital before stepping into a space of mutual inquiry. Asking our partners to share what they see as being our patterns, perhaps not so much their assessment or analysis, but simply what they see as being our habitual disempowering patterns can be extremely insightful.
As confronting as this may be at times, we all know that most often, our partners know us best.
The biggest caveate for this to be effective, is for our partners to also not be in a place of trigger or reaction. Sometimes this isn’t possible, and this is when outside guidance or professional support may be useful or even necessary.
This next step is more of a solo journey. After we have received feedback or reflection as to the inherent nature of our unconscious patterns and blind spots, the next step is to allow a period of personal reflection.
Our blind spots are often tied to really deep stuff from our childhood, upbringing, and traumas. Even when the awareness of our blind spots hit us like a flash and we feel their impact deeply, integration takes time and I always recommend giving space for a gradual and gentle process.
The important consideration is that the process be slow, and steady. Creating a container or intention period of time to process a particular insight with beginning, middle, and end checkpoints helps to keep the process meaningful and prevents the feeling of being stuck in the water.
This isn’t to say that the process needs to stop at the end of a set period of time, rather that there is an intention of progression that is connected to time frames. Often if a week or a month isn’t enough, a new period of time can be established.
The closing step to this, and perhaps any process of personal development and integration, is to appreciate what has been.
It is often easy to see a blind spot, recognize its undesirable impact in our lives and relationships, and then seek to distance ourselves from it as much as possible.
While we may be striving to unwind our unconscious patterns and step into a brighter sense of inner freedom, acknowledging that often these patterns were born from a place of innocence is an important step in the integration process.
The way we react when our partner doesn’t respond in a way we would like, or the emotions aries when we feel criticised, are all often protection mechanisms that come from the past. As children, we reacted, and our unconscious minds created ways to keep us safe and make the world around us make sense.
What is interesting is that when we step into gratitude for how our mind or ego protected us, we create space for our unconscious minds to relax a little bit more, and this makes the next process or blind spot that we work on to be less intense.
And so, with gradual and steady gratitude, we create a new pattern, a pattern where our innocent self can let go as it feels safe knowing that it won’t be blamed for protecting us or shamed for doing it in a way worked before.
I believe that our blind spots are one of our greatest access points and when we actively participate in the process of bringing the unconscious into conscious awareness, we gain a tremendous amount of personal power and presence.
The stories of the past become simply that, and instead of becoming life sentences of behavior, become seeds choice and empowerment.
I believe our highest purpose in this life is to become the most refined and bright version of ourselves. To that end, conscious relationships can be our greatest tool.
One that helps us grind away the edges of our egos and cracks us open to the fullness of our hearts.