When We Only See What We Want
“You will always define events in a manner which will validate your agreement with reality.”
- Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
Things have calmed down a bit and have allowed me a bit more time to ponder, in the car of course (where I seem to do quite a bit of my reflections on life). I was coming up to a stop light and a few cars ahead of me in the lane of the oncoming traffic, I saw an obscure object on the ground. The oncoming traffic was still stopped, and I was trying to get a closer look. It was dark, and different dimensions and I swear I thought I saw a fluffy tail. It wasn’t moving.
My heart skipped a few beats, and I started to cringe at the thought of a line of cars trampling over a little creature who innocently lost their life. What could I do? Of course, at this point, nothing. That would be ridiculous, but I still felt helpless and such a sadness for this little being that got caught in an onslaught of traffic. I even took it so far as to gather a few drips of rage at modern industrialization that has purged natural habitats for the creation of unnecessary mobile cell phone stores that will most likely be closed within 6 months of opening.
The light turned green and I found myself holding my breath as I moved forward along with the oncoming traffic. Just before the first car in line reached the heap in the middle of the road, I was able to get a quick glance. Low and behold, it was a piece of clothing with a trim of faux (presumably) fur attached. Dear Lord, after all of that.
It wasn’t what I had expected.
I had drummed up a whole scenario in my head, felt a true sadness of loss of life, and had managed to bring my whole body and mind into a ridiculous upheaval. And this was all over something that never actually happened.
This shows me how easily we can sometimes only see what we want to see, and at the same time, be blind to the things we would rather not.
So how do we deal with our blind spots?
We all have blind spots, areas in our life that we just may not see reality as it exists. But what can we do about this? The first step is to be completely honest with ourselves. We can’t live in a world where we refuse to be wrong. To make mistakes is to be human. And more importantly, just because one mistake was made does not forever illegitimatize your whole being. If anything, the exact opposite is true.
Being able to make a mistake, to recognize and acknowledge a sense of vulnerability is to be on the path to a truly authentic life. It allows forgiveness, a softening in the form of compassion and understanding not just for ourselves, but for others as well.
And there will be those that jump on any acknowledgement of wrong-doing and forever hold it over your head. I bet those are individuals who have not yet enjoyed the benefits of recognizing any blind spots in their own lives, and may not be the best people to share such personal insights.
That’s the thing about blind spots; we often make a quick judgment, also not realizing there might be more to the story. We make hasty assessments, often based solely on our previous experience, therefore easily missing a larger picture. These blind spots are pervasive in politics, in parenting, relationships, and simply in life in general.
The whole picture.
Stepping back with an open mind helps us see the whole picture, reducing, if not eliminating, areas we previously could not see. Being able to step back, recognize the facts and recognize what emotions are tied to specific outcomes, gives us a greater awareness of ourselves and the world around us. It allows us to understand the perspective of others, and gain a little wisdom for ourselves as to how we see and handle future situations.
We have to be careful not to be so locked into a set of beliefs or even a particular understanding of a situation. There are always two sides, and just because we acknowledge the existence of another possibility doesn’t take away from the verity of our own. In fact, just the opposite can happen. If anything, we can realize with the utmost authenticity that what we believe, what we see, at this moment, really is as it seems. It allows us to solidify who we are and what we want out of life with greater certainty, knowing all sides of the spectrum.
Being flexible allows us to bend to hear new information and find our shape again when we filter through our own intuition, knowledge and experience. Without this flexibility, we simply break.
Equally, we may learn something, and see something from a new perspective, which only enhances our own worldview. We have no need to defend when we are solid in ourselves, and yet aware there are other (even viable) opinions.
It is of no benefit to hold tight in our rigid beliefs and leave no room for exploring, if indeed what we are seeing is truly as it seems. If not, you may end up wasting a lot of energy for no reason, especially in mistaking an old piece of clothing for a hurt animal, and getting riled up for absolutely nothing.