This week, I sat with a woman who was upset by a family member’s social media post that stated, “You don’t need to be perfect. I love & accept you as you are.”
When I asked why she was bothered by this, she stated that the person who posted it doesn’t accept her.
“In fact”, she added, “he’s super judgmental. He excludes people and picks & chooses who’s acceptable in his eyes.”
When the conversation changed fifteen minutes later, I was puzzled when she made a statement that I felt was very unloving, exclusive, and judgmental of a minority group.
I was truly baffled. How did she not see that she was behaving exactly as she’d just described someone else?
(And wait…wasn’t I being judgmental now?!)
We all have parts of ourselves that others see, while we cannot.
Whenever someone tells me that “Christians are hypocrites” I validate their view and add that they certainly can be. Because Christians are human, and humans can be hypocritical.
But while often see “hypocrites” as people who are behaving badly, few understand how the brain itself causes hypocritical behaviors within us.
There’s actually a psychology theory that can help explain this bizarre tendency of ours.
It’s called the Johari Window.
Imagine a window frame containing four panes–each with its own little window shade that can be drawn open or closed at any given time.
Each window pane represents a different view into our soul (our beliefs, character, behavior, personality, etc.).
There are parts of us that we keep private and other parts that we express openly to others. And of course, when we draw the shades depends also depends on who it is that’s looking into us. (I’m much more likely to be vulnerable with someone who feels safe.)
But have you considered what parts of yourself you keep hidden from yourself?
Each quadrant of the Johari Window represents the parts of us that are known by ourselves and by others. For example, when both I and others describe me as shy & quiet, this would be the “open/known” parts of myself.
Whereas if I survived a trauma that now makes me highly anxious when around people, but I hide this well from others, we’re referring to a “Private/hidden” part of the self (a facade).
It’s possible that we’re unaware of things that happened to us during infancy and their ongoing impacts to our life). These things which are also unseen by others are the “unknown” parts of self.
Awareness is key.
You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.
So how do we fix things we’re not even aware of?
How do we “see” our blindspots?
Thankfully, there are things we can do to increase our self-awareness so that we’re not operating in the dark!
Every spring in Wisconsin, yard signs are posted saying, “Start seeing motorcycles!”
People laugh about this, saying “How can I see something I don’t see?!”
But these signs have been proven to decrease cycle/car accidents, because psychology shows that we’re more likely to see something when we’re actively looking for it!
How to open your blind(spot)s:
🧠 Watch for your blindspots and acknowledge that you have them.
This one simple step will open your mind to watching for areas where you may be missing the bigger picture.
🧠 Fact-check your thoughts.
When you notice yourself having a strong reaction to something (mentally, emotionally, or physically), make a list of all of your thoughts about what’s happened (without editing). When you’ve finished, fact-check them. Ask yourself, “What would someone who believes the opposite say about this?” to broaden your perspective.
🧠 Ask others for feedback.
Asking others how they perceive you can give you incredible insight into behaviors that you’re completely unaware of. Be sure to ask those with varying degrees of closeness to you. While your spouse has come to know your heart and your intentions over time (therefore seeing you through that lens), those who know you more casually will likely have a more subjective view of your behaviors. They’re more likely to notice your general moods, tone of voice, etc. Hearing these things can help you understand the “first impression” (and those that follow) that you give to others.
🧠 Get a second opinion.
When someone comments about your personality or character, don’t be afraid to ask what gave them that impression. This is especially helpful when you feel misunderstood. Asking someone who knows you well whether they can see how someone got this impression may add further information.
🧠 Hire a coach.
If you’ve been trying to change or do something for an extended time, without success, it’s very possible that a blind spot is holding you back. Having a subjective person to share their observations and challenge your perspective can be incredibly beneficial. I’ve experienced this multiple times in my own life, as well as regularly with clients. (There’s nothing like witnessing a “light-bulb moment” where a person suddenly sees what was previously kept in the dark!)
There are two things I’ve learned about how people present themselves to the world.
Those with high self-awareness are generally pretty regulated and often other-aware as well. But those who are highly aware (AKA critical) of others tend to be highly unaware when it comes to themselves. And we can all increase our awareness by shedding a little light in the places we’ve seldom tended to in the past.
Ask your Creator to shine some light in the dark places, so you can show up as the beautiful human He created you to be. 🙂
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