I think Danny Silk puts it best. He says that, even though our mouths are right under our noses, we’re always the last ones to know that our breath stinks! That one never fails to get a laugh, but it’s no joke. It can be so difficult to perceive what is right under our noses, especially when it has to do with us personally.
And we are virtually blind to many aspects of our personality that could be blocking our joy, motivation, progress, and sense of purpose, never mind the havoc these unconscious tendencies wreak on our relationships. Staying in the dark about our blind spots instead of committing to keeping our eyes wide open to greater self-awareness is a dangerous gamble.
And although we’ll probably never fully uncover absolutely every single self-destructive or interpersonally challenging habit, we can be open to the process. And a good way to start is by having a little Q & A session with yourself. I’ve found that these five questions are a great way to shed light on the dimly lit or downright blacked-out regions of our personalities:
1. In what areas of my life do I regularly “mess up?” –
We all make mistakes. I personally make a whole lot of them, many many times a day. Like leaving a roast to defrost outside of the fridge for a week (Eek!). These things happen. But what I’m referring to are areas of life we just can’t seem to master. Maybe it’s our finances, maybe it’s our weight, or maybe it’s maintaining longterm friendships. Once it’s a negative pattern, it’s probably an issue, so take a closer look, bearing in mind that you may be self-handicapping, or sabotaging your success.
2. When people are critical of me, what’s the common thread? –
Whether we want to admit it or not, we give people reason to not be happy with us – O, the horror! We are not social Snow Whites, pristine in all ways. Now, I AM NOT referring to abusive relationships in which a person is inhumanely degraded. But in functional, “normal” interactions, I think you’ll find that, if you connect the dots through each uncomfortable time in your life someone was less than pleased with you, you’ll discover a common thread or theme.
This is not caused by despair or self-deprecation because EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US HAS A NEGATIVE RELATIONAL THEME. The question is, will you use this information to change the course of your present and future relationships for the better, or will you foolishly believe you were right all along?
3. What frustrates my children most about me? –
I’m sure this comes as no surprise to most of you but, being a parent doesn’t mean everything we do is right or even helpful to our children. I know we all hate to think about how we might be screwing up. Maybe some of you think about that too much. This isn’t a call for mass self-flagellation amongst mothers. This is an opportunity to enhance our relationship with our kids.
Just asking them, “When do you feel angry at mommy?” can elicit some very interesting responses and it lets your kids know that it’s safe for them to give you feedback. Sometimes all you’ll get is, “I feel angry when you don’t give me chocolate” or “I feel angry when you make me get up early to go to school.” But other times you’ll hear that you speak while they are speaking or you correct them too much when they read aloud. Now those are things you may not have thought about that are worth modifying!
4. In what way do I believe everyone should be more like me? –
I won’t say much about this one except, “Ouch!” What seemed like the one thing we could be sure of and happy within ourselves is actually a signpost pointing us towards two things. 1. Where we lack compassion, and 2. Where we’re prone to judgment.
5. If I’m talking to someone who knows me well, when does her face start to look distant or confused (ESPECIALLY if she doesn’t say anything about it to me)? –
Don’t get me wrong. A distant or confused look can have many meanings. For instance, it could indicate that the person you are speaking with has missed something important. But sometimes it’s a sign that YOU’VE missed something obvious to everyone else! Look more closely because it could be really subtle. And if you’re courageous enough to hear the response, ask what’s on her mind!
Have you discovered one of your own personal blindspots? Let me know by leaving me a comment below. Thanks so much, and lots of motherly love to you!