Being aware of our blind spots is essential and here is a treatise on understanding it better…
What are blind spots? Blind spots are mental blocks created by the mind which we are unaware of, and over which we have no control. Anything the mind covers from our view is a blind spot. Even within the eye, there is a blind spot, an area that does not support vision.
In areas where there are blind spots, we will fail to exercise proper judgment and discrimination. This failure is not intentional or deliberate; instead, it is just that we are not aware of what is driving us, and we respond unconsciously.
Characteristics of blind spots
We cannot consciously create blind spots. It is part of the design of life and is an unconscious process. It may appear to be a faulty design, but there seems to be a method to this madness. If the mind did not create blind spots, it will not be able to sustain that which is opposed to the blind spot.
Blind spots cannot be spotted by us. However, others can, by keenly watching our behavior. For instance, many people are not aware of their own selfishness. If someone pointed it out, they may not believe them. They may even get angry and deny it.
Even if you are willing to agree with their recognition of your blind spot you will not be able to see your acts of selfishness while it is happening. The self-image will block it out from view.
We can live with blind spots for an entire lifetime and never know that such a thing exists. They have great influence over us but since they work in the background we are not aware of their influence.
Blind spots are not restricted to individuals. It is collective. They exist in societies, cultures, nations, religions and politics.
Blind spots are not self-denial; though, to an outsider, it may appear so. In denial we sweep under the carpet or choose to ignore certain inconvenient matters that trouble us. Knowingly, we turn a blind eye. In blind spots we don’t know, though others may know and may wrongly assume that we also do.
Consequences of blind spots
They distort our thinking and consequently distort our actions that spring from our thinking. We lose objectivity. Bias creeps in. Our judgements could become misleading and faulty.
They can damage relationships and stunt our growth.
They can bring down organisations and even countries.
They can lead to misunderstanding, as an outsider may assume that our actions are deliberate and willful.
Physical blind spots
Both our posture and body language are blind spots for us. We are rarely aware of both and the impact they have on ourselves as well as on others. We will always feel as though nothing is wrong with our posture and body language. We will not be aware whether we are frowning or are having a sullen face throughout the day. Bringing some light into these blind spots will go a long way in transforming the way we feel.
Emotional blind spots
The design of life is such that whenever there is a strong emotion at play, blind spots need to appear. Otherwise the emotion, whether positive or negative, cannot survive.
Envy will blind us to the good qualities of the other person. We will either not see them or dilute their importance or get annoyed if anyone points them out to us. Envy will allow us to see only their negative side so that envy can survive.
Greed will blind us to risk. We read about so many people being cheated by charlatans offering high rates of interest or duping them with worthless stocks. Greed will paint a rosy picture and dilute the risk and prevent us from doing any due diligence. This will embolden us to invest unwisely with dubious characters and grandiose schemes.
Chronic, impulsive anger creates many blind spots. It primarily distorts judgement. To display such anger, you have to become insensitive to the impact it has on other people’s emotions. The mind will desensitize us, and we will become blind to the havoc anger causes. If we become too sensitive, it will prevent us from getting angry.
Fear also has to create blind spots to endure. It will project the worst-case scenarios and create blind spots about the positive side of things. A frightened person cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. It will be blocked from his sight.
Failure and a sense of inferiority will prevent us from seeing our strengths while success, pride and a sense of superiority will prevent us from seeing our weaknesses.
Overconfidence can block us from seeing our opponents’ strengths while lack of confidence will prevent us from seeing our own strong points. Just as a pessimist will not be able to see opportunities, so also an optimist will not be able to see the roadblocks ahead.
However, there are also positive aspects to blind spots.
When two people are in love they need blind spots to sustain that love. The blind spots will prevent them from seeing each other’s blemishes and shortcomings. If they did see, love will be corrupted and get diluted. They say love is blind which means that blind spots cover up our flaws so that love can blossom. Nature handholds us with its blind spots until love stabilizes and is mature enough to have the capacity and strength to withstand the other person’s shortcomings. But this window of opportunity is small and good use has to be made of it while it is there.
Kindness and compassion also need blind spots. The mind will have to underplay undesirable character traits and deficiencies and not highlight them. To be compassionate to a criminal will require that we do not see him as a criminal but as a potential good person.
Basically, we have to shine the light of awareness on the blind spots repeatedly, not just once or twice. Awareness has to penetrate deeply.
Political blind spots
If you adore your leader you will only see his positive achievements. You will be blind to his failures. If you dislike him, you will only see his failures and what he has not achieved. You will be blind to his good deeds. Your mind will prevent you from having a balanced view. To have an objective view you must neither like him nor dislike him. You have to weigh his actions unemotionally to prevent blind spots from distorting the picture. When you are pro or anti someone or something blind spots are bound to cloud the vision.
Political leaders who are surrounded by flatterers are particularly susceptible to blind spots. If they turn into autocrats, then they will be covered from head to foot with blind spots. History is replete with such people. It not only brings about their downfall but of their country as well.
Family blind spots
With family and friends blind spots are a double-edged sword. We need them for bonding, but they can also be detrimental.
We need to overlook minor faults of our loved ones and not be constantly critical. But when it comes to major flaws our blind spots can become our Achilles heel. Over pampering will be the result and soon we will have a spoilt brat. Blind spots will make major flaws appear minor. It will overplay sentiment and make us justify their behavior. The biggest blind spots are with our children and our parents.
Business blind spots
Over confidence in business can lead to collapse of the business itself. This has often happened in monopolies that did not see the looming danger ahead. Technological obsolescence has destroyed many corporations that believed in their invincibility.
Leaders who place excessive trust in capable individuals often overlook their integrity and vice versa. Both capability and integrity are needed in business. Sentimentality often throws up blind spots.
As you rise to the top of your profession there will be fewer people to give you honest feedback about your blind spots. People at the top also hesitate to take feedback. That hesitation could prove costly.
Spiritual blind spots
Once we choose a spiritual path, blind spots will cover up all other paths. Every other path will look not as good as the one we have chosen. A fundamentalist mindset will take over. The mind will not even allow us to explore other paths. This is the only way the path we have chosen can survive. Without an in-depth study of other spiritual paths, the mind will condemn them with half-knowledge. In most cases the path we choose is not after weighing all available paths and then selecting the one that suits our personality and temperament.
Collective blind spots
When two countries are at war the enemy will always be seen as the aggressor and wrong doer. If our country is the aggressor, we will end up justifying it.
We will always believe that our religion, tradition, language, way of life and culture is the best in the world and all others are inferior to ours, even without having any knowledge about other cultures. Even if we study other cultures our blind spot will make us believe that ours is the best. We will just not be able to see other cultures as better. If we did not have this blind spot, we would not have a sense of pride in our culture. But if we overcame this blind spot we could very well be proud of all traditions and cultures the world has to offer and exult in variety.
When a particular community, group of people or even countries are dubbed as being money minded, stingy, violent, unintelligent or as brilliant, courteous, kind and tolerant then when we meet a member of that community or country we will see them in that preconceived manner. The mind will block out any other way of perceiving them.
For humanity as a whole the biggest blind spot is with respect to our identity. We have no clue as to who we are except for the ideas we have gathered as to who we are. Each of us has assumed an identity constructed out of concepts which clashes with other people’s identities similarly constructed out of other concepts, while our common, shared, non-conceptual identity is hidden from us. The spiritual path consists primarily of uncovering our true identity that lies beyond concepts.
Overcoming blind spots
The first step in overcoming blind spots is to accept that there is such a thing as a blind spot. Blind spots are not mainstream discussion. Once this is accepted, next is to observe it in others, since we cannot observe it in ourselves. We then have to assume we have a similar blind spot, though it may not feel so. Maybe it is not there, but we need to eliminate that possibility. We then need the help of another person to point it out to us, preferably while it is happening. Once we become aware, that will set in motion the impetus for change. Having a mentor, guide, guru or life coach is very useful in recognizing our blind spots and dealing with them.
Basically, we have to shine the light of awareness on the blind spots repeatedly, not just once or twice. Awareness has to penetrate deeply. Some blind spots can be tenacious. Others may dissolve more quickly. Some may never go away, so we have to factor it in our judgements. It is also not wise to point out other people’s blind spots to them unless they specifically ask for it but use it for our own growth.