Have you been trying to make positive changes for yourself and getting frustrated by little to no forward progress? It is likely the result of blind spots.
Blind spots are the most detrimental component to your personal growth and sustaining lasting changes in your life. Why? Because you don’t know they are there.
They are areas of our lives that we have no visibility to - we can’t see how they are affecting our thinking, our actions, and our motivations when attempting to make any life changes.
The personal growth industry is a vast and growing business. With so many people offering new, fancy, seemingly magic processes to help make your path to personal growth, enlightenment and wealth, as easy as snapping your finger or thinking happy thoughts is it no wonder you are confused and frustrated when failures and setbacks are the reality?
As humans, we are designed for growth. We have complex brains capable of computing and assessing immense amounts of information about the world around us. We have emotions and intuition to inform and guide us when our thinking abilities are unable to rationalize something.
Yet, with all these amazing ways to sift through the data of our lives, sustaining personal change still thwarts many of us. This is because of one simple fact - blind spots - we don’t know what we don’t know. Let’s explore the four most common blind spots we have:
- Long Entrenched Patterns of Thought - These are ways of thinking that have been repeated enough to become unconscious; phrases that contain absolutes are often a sign of an unconscious pattern of thought; always, never, everybody, nobody
- Beliefs Held Without Examination - These are convictions you hold as truth, often without questioning them or their origin. No pain, no gain or All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy are a couple of examples - we all carry hundreds of these.
- Thinking The Problem and Solution are External - It is extremely common to think that your problems and solutions are from entities outside of you. I hate my job - a new one would make me happy or Everyone I know is married - I should get married so I’m not alone. The truth is you will be unhappy in the new job and lonely in the marriage if you neglect looking inward for the solutions to the feelings.
- Unrealistic Expectations of The Change Process - This is a change killer. People expect change to be as easy as making a decision to do so. Lasting change is hard and takes some time. It is important to recognize (out loud) the little changes along the way rather than criticize or be impatient with yourself.
As children, we relied completely and totally on others for our survival. We had to be fed, cleaned, carried and burped and those who cared for us took that responsibility to heart and dedicated (or didn’t) their time and energy to our survival and well-being.
We struggled with our first steps, our first solid food and potty-training were nightmares for child and adult alike. Our caregivers were tasked with the huge job of teaching us about the world, our communities and the difference between right and wrong.
All along, those caring for us were informing us about the world around us and imprinting us with their views, their hopes, their fears, and their biases. They were the ones that embraced or rejected our emotions, teaching us what was acceptable and not, to receive love and praise. They were consistent, or not, in their communications with us and they showed us conditional or unconditional love. We grew up knowing only what we were taught.
Because the adults in our lives were our means of survival, we quickly adapted to the expectations shown us and lessons taught. In that process, we were conditioned away from our own voices’ guidance and no longer recognized our voice as separate from theirs.
The process of being raised encompasses two of the four main blind spots ––
Long Entrenched Patterns of Thought and Beliefs Held Without Examination
For example, if in your childhood, your mother controlled her environment tightly, with no place for loud and rambunctious behavior, for messy and creative endeavors, for big emotions - negative or positive, the resulting pattern of thought that follows would go something like this - ‘to get love, I must be tidy, quiet, controlled and put together’.
As you grow to adulthood, this pattern of thought turns into a belief (a repeated thought) and you begin to control your environment tightly and judge messy, untidy and emotional behaviors as unloveable and unworthy.
Every time you act in a way that is counter to this belief you suffer the internal consequences of lack of love and approval.
Now, most of us are unaware of this belief, the pattern of thought that developed the belief or the origin of this thinking, making it a HUGE blind spot in growing past it or choosing something different.
Another major blind spot that challenges nearly all of us is thinking that both the problem and the solution are something external to us. We assume that if we change our job, our lover, our city of residence or try the newest diet trend that we will be able to change how we are feeling. The thinking goes like this:
“I am so stuck in my life circumstance that if I could just get out of this, I would be able to see everything more clearly and from that vantage point, I would be able to find happiness.”
Sound familiar? Yep, that sentence has been played, on a loop, for literally months at a time in my own experience. This may just be the most pervasive of blind spots, because we look to other people (perceived happy people) and see them all doing the same thing; controlling their environments to achieve success and happiness.
But are they happy, now? The real truth is that we can’t have a happy ending to an unhappy journey. We may have a crappy job, a selfish lover, be overweight or unfit, but if we change our external circumstances without finding our internal happy first, the misery follows.
Finally, we have incredibly unrealistic expectations of the change process. This goes back to wanting a magic pill or quick fix, right?
Somehow, we expect that change will be nearly instantaneous - simply make the decision, the new choice, and bam! we’re changed.
There are a ton of books showing us the steps to success, informing us that it only takes 21 days to create a new habit or offering a program to make our change process quick and painless.
And, yes, there are big shifts that happen, but usually, that is a result of a bunch of little steps along the way, uncelebrated. Tony Robbins says it best when:
“People often overestimate what they can accomplish in a year and seriously underestimate what they can accomplish in 10.”
Change takes time. It takes courage. It takes stick-to-itiveness. It takes repetition and practice. It takes back-slides and re-approaches.
Change is the result of a strong desire, a willingness to look within to find our personal stumbling blocks, a plan to follow, a coach or counselor to help with the blind spots, and a focused celebration of the journey we’re in and the little successes along the way. This is the only recipe for sustained change. Oh –– and a recognition of the reality of arriving at our desired outcome –– this arrival is just another launching space for more desires and growth.
In looking at your own journey with change, what have been your biggest blind spots and how did you resolve them?