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Behavior Blind Spots Revealed

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

—Maya Angelou

Years ago while in leadership training, I had a phone conversation with a person who called me out. “Laura, you realize you interrupt people when they are talking. I know this might be uncomfortable to hear.”

My cheeks turned crimson. My heart pounded. My toes curled.  I remember stammering and feeling a surge of defensiveness rise up inside my throat forming words I knew I couldn’t take back once spoken. I took some gulping breaths before I meekly asked, “Really?” in a squeaky little girl’s voice.

“Yes. You do.”

“Ok. I’ll take a look at that.”

I began to pay attention. I interrupted people. I noticed it didn’t matter who, what, where, or why. I 100 percent did this behavior. And here’s the thing, I saw myself as a good listener because many people shared open-hearted stories often beginning with “I have not told anyone else this…” I vividly remembered their stories.

I uncomfortably owned the tension of two seemingly conflicting realities. Yes, people shared stories and I remembered the details and I interrupted people. Words often formed in my head like hot potatoes needing immediate release by way of exiting my mouth.

Becoming aware of behavior blind spots can be extremely uncomfortable, especially if perfection or pretending to be perfect happens to be your jam.

Until these experiences of requesting honest feedback, I had been perfecting my impersonations of being a really good person in every possible way. Half of my life I spent sprinting from poisonous words significant people used to describe me. During this time I felt my life depended on being the absolute opposite, at least on the outside, in my demeanor and behaviors. I carried ugly shamefear that I fiercely attempted to hide from myself and unsuccessfully hid from others.

The ability to become a witness to my worst behaviors became a different mission, one that awakened me to a lasting humility. The depths of my dark places became the rich, fertile soil for my most profound transformations.

One of the toughest, yet life-changing feedback moments regarding my behavior blind spots arrived when I was a full-time parent of our two small children. My then-husband let me know that my anger episodes scared him and terrified our children. I flared with immediate defensiveness. “Well, they must learn what anger looks like!” Yet, as I reflected on his feedback, I realized that only cowards or hurting, emotionally immature, previously wounded, and exhausted people lose themselves inside rage storms in front of small children.

My body contained unresolved traumas that my mind, no matter how many affirmations I spoke out loud or chanted internally to myself, could ever overcome. Terrified living permeated the nooks and crannies, the in-between, the inside, the outsides of my life. I had utterly failed to contain terror’s viral nature. This blind, not blind way of living had been called out in love and light. My then-husband had been bravely honest.

As one wise healthcare professional stated, “Laura, trauma lives in the entire body, in the nervous system, in your heart, body memories. You must go to the body to resolve it. Shocks to the human nervous system-whole body-won’t ever get resolved in the mind’s melodrama or even conscious mental affirmation practice.”

I realized the truth of this as I could brilliantly describe my anger episodes with words and even imagine myself as a hot-headed cartoon character.  Yet, at that juncture, I had no capacity to interrupt, let alone end my emotional meltdowns. I committed to no longer being someone who terrified her own children and lived petrified of being abused. The rage covered my fear, which masked and often suffocated my ability to be loving, to respond with patience, kindness, or clear, dignified boundaries. This became a life-altering all of it moment. Rarely do blind-spot reveals binary. These sacred moments often show themselves as complicated, multi-dimensional-heart, mind, body, soul- experiences.

I continue to engage in lifelong practices of pausing before speaking, of movement, and meditation that quiets my mind and allows me to access an Inner Quiet Charlotte Witness Self. Personal growth allows me to become a person with whom I’d enjoy spending time. I’m healthier than I used to be. I’m more self-aware and wiser than I used to be. I live human and humane.

What have you been learning about yourself?

Shamefear can have a powerful grip on your ability to tell the truth about yourself, to look in the mirror, and own your less than flattering behaviors or unworkable emotional dynamics.

Many people probably would rather have a year-long public speaking tour than pierce through their blind spots to reveal the raw, real truths to themselves and other trusted people.

To face your worst moments as a human being in word and deed means coming to grips with your humanity, that you are no worse or better than any human being that walks the planet. Staring at your humanity-that you most likely have experienced a loneliness, a rejection, a betrayal, and/or abandonment that takes your breath away in its fierce pain and that you have rejected, betrayed, and abandoned yourself and other people in small, medium, or large ways in word and/or deed becomes an incredibly brave witnessing of your life without makeup, gloves, sunglasses, deflector shield, or photoshopping.

Experiencing the emotional pain of remorse and the full impact your behaviors and words have had on other people becomes an opening to new, healthy practices, thoughtful responses aligned with your deepest values, and even greater courage to heal. You can become the midwife of your own internal transformations that can inspire other individuals on their path. The soul and joy liberation becomes worth every moment of discomfort. You see that you are not alone and that you have come home to your awareness. You can become someone who humbly and bravely lives humane and compassionate with yourself and other people.

The depths of your pain reveal your humanity and touch the depths of other people’s pain and humanity. Your ability to rise strong in love, with love, to choose new ways allows other people to see that this can be possible for them. Life becomes about integration, wholeness, a multi-dimensional, diverse experience of being alive, and an ever-expanding capacity to see through eyes of love.

Laura Staley
Laura Staleyhttp://www.cherishyourworld.com
The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura Staley passionately helps people thrive by guiding them to a holistic transformation of space, heart, mind, body, and soul. Laura knows that there’s a relationship between the conditions of our homes or workplaces and the quality of our lives. Trained and certified with the Western School of Feng Shui and seasoned by almost two decades of working with a variety of clients, Laura uses her intuition and expertise to empower her clients to produce remarkable results in their lives. Her trifecta of serving people includes speaking, writing, and compassionate listening. As a columnist, Laura writes personal essays focused on self-discovery, feng shui, emotional health, and transformations from the inside out. Laura is the published author of three books: Live Inspired, Let Go Courageously and Live with Love: Transform Your Life with Feng Shui, and the Cherish Your World Gift Book of 100 Tips to Enhance Your Home and Life. Prior to creating her company, Laura worked as a fulltime parent and an assistant professor at Ohio Wesleyan University. She earned a Ph.D. in political science from The Ohio State University. Her joys in life include laughing with loved ones, dancing, reading, meditating, running, being in nature, and listening to music she loves. She resides in Black Mountain, NC with lovable dog, Layla. Laura is a contributing author to the inspiring book Crappy to Happy: Sacred Stories of Transformational Joy

9 COMMENTS

  1. Laura,
    This powerful share made me pause inside the question “What have you been learning about yourself”.
    You asked the question first to yourself and gained this amazing insight into your own way of being in the world.
    In turn you shared your personal learnings and then asked the question to your readers.
    Inside this vulnerability is how we grow and learn from one another. Thank you for being just one of my many teachers. #livinginthequestions

    • Carolyn, You are so welcome. I realize that people I’ve met are learning so many different things right now. I find personal growth and introspection, self-discovery to be a passion that others might share. I appreciate your insight–“Inside this vulnerability is how we grow and learn from one another.” Yes, indeed. We are students and teachers simultaneously guiding and learning, growing, and walking one another home. Thank you so much for #livinginthequestions and for taking time to share your thoughts. I appreciate you, your wisdom.

  2. My dear Laura, your vulnerability is an incredible offering that now helps others who are suffering. To only that awareness you describe is indeed transformational.

    “ To face your worst moments as a human being in word and deed means coming to grips with your humanity, that you are no worse or better than any human being that walks the planet. Staring at your humanity-that you most likely have experienced a loneliness, a rejection, a betrayal, and/or abandonment that takes your breath away in its fierce pain and that you have rejected, betrayed, and abandoned yourself and other people in small, medium, or large ways in word and/or deed becomes an incredibly brave witnessing of your life without makeup, gloves, sunglasses, deflector shield, or photoshopping.”

    Meeting yourself in that deep conversation within, your mind, body, heart brain and soul, need to be there and discuss the real reasons we act as we do. We cannot expect this is happening in anyone else but just ourselves. When we accept this and deal with it, we are then the change we indeed need to see. That’s my thought at the moment after reading this🙏

    Thank you so much for sharing, caring and allowing us into your heart and soul. Truly love you sister! Big hug from me!

    • Thank you so much for your kind reflections as I value your feedback so very much, Paula. There’s something about looking at ourselves in the mirror that sometimes feels beyond brave as we consciously choose to do the slow, steady, daily inner work of healing and transformations. I realized a while ago that this path is not for the feint of heart, but rather incredibly courageous ones-a daring greatly-well worth the soul liberation that finally arrives and continues be humbling-an incredible gratitude-to see one’s life from the perspective of the True Self-the Freed Soul self you realize that no one and nothing can actually harm the Eternal radiant energy of the human spirit, of Awakened Awareness. This continues to keep me in utter awe! I’m grateful for you, and love you so very much. You are a treasure, my friend!

  3. Thank you for your amazing feedback on this essay. Knowing how deeply I respect you, your reflections mean a great deal to me. I’m grateful to know that paragraph especially leapt out for you. Duly noted. Grateful, always for you taking time to read and offer your thoughts, Melissa! There’s something about facing our humanity-each one of us who’s willing to do so-creates a beginning of the shift to heal, to build compassion, and choose the healthier response in a daily, lifelong practice (at least in my experience-this gets easier to feed the love, the compassionate response, the quiet).

  4. Laura, you always manage to blow me away with your honesty and vulnerability. This one is no different. As I was reading this, I kept stopping to re-read sentences… sometimes because reading them once didn’t do them justice and other times just to really let the words sink in. But this paragraph is the one that really resonates:

    “To face your worst moments as a human being in word and deed means coming to grips with your humanity, that you are no worse or better than any human being that walks the planet. Staring at your humanity-that you most likely have experienced a loneliness, a rejection, a betrayal, and/or abandonment that takes your breath away in its fierce pain and that you have rejected, betrayed, and abandoned yourself and other people in small, medium, or large ways in word and/or deed becomes an incredibly brave witnessing of your life without makeup, gloves, sunglasses, deflector shield, or photoshopping.”

    That, my friend, is gold… pure gold. Thank you.

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