I have messed up some relationships recently. And I have needed to apologize. The great irony is that I teach others how to have successful relationships.
As I was enjoying my humble pie, I began wondering… How do you see your blind spots?
First things first. I apologize as soon as I understand that I have wronged someone. Seems simple enough to just take responsibility, right? But somehow I still struggle with this part because I usually add to my apology. I try to offer more than a simple “I’m sorry” and try to explain how things got to the point where I messed up. Even though I own my own screw up, it seems that anything I say after “I’m sorry” is heard as an excuse, diminishing the value of the apology. I understand this easily when someone apologizes to me. But somehow I forget it when I’m the one apologizing.
The thing that I had to relearn is that I need to shut up after the apology. No one wants to hear anything else after that. Why? I believe it’s because everyone wants to be “right”. And when I apologize I’m saying, “I was wrong and you were right.” Period. But when I go on about how I got to that point, and all the analytical junk that my mind does as it tries to figure everything out… no one wants that. OK, lesson learned.
Or maybe not. If read with a critical eye, that last paragraph could sound like one elaborate excuse! See how easily our minds go there?
A Tool For Blind Spots
This lead me to think about my blind spots. I walk around confidently engaging with everyone around me, but what if I’m like the emperor with no clothes? How does a person dig into the mind and heart to do some much needed repair?
The single most important tool I have used to get under the hood and see what’s going on with my internal processes is a simple paper journal.
When you get ready for work in the morning, do you use a mirror or do you just get ready in your room or closet without the tool of a mirror? No, you need that tool to see yourself, fix your hair, shave your beard, even brush your teeth, which you’ve done a thousand times. In a similar way, digging up what’s inside requires certain tools and a simple paper journal and a pen are the primary tools for the task. They give you a mirror to work with.
I suggest that you go buy one if you don’t have one.
Now, let’s pause for a second. How did that make you feel when I suggested that? Did you feel like I am adding another thing for you to do? Or that I’m going to saddle you with some new obligation with rules to follow?
Here’s the good news. There are no rules. And the better news is that even sporadic use of this tool can be very helpful and even help you arrive at life changing realizations.
You simply use this tool when you feel like you need to. I go through periods of weeks, even months without journaling. But when I get some time to myself and my mind is pondering things that have been going on, I need a place to dump out those thoughts, and like legos pick them up, look at them, and try to figure out what to do with them. A journal is the best tool I know to help with this.
In my journal, I have been writing about my goals, what I want to achieve, some ideas on how to get there. I write out my hopes and prayers. I also write about frustrating situations and process how I handled them. Once I reach some sort of clarity on what to do, or how to proceed, I set it down, take a deep breath, and move on.
One of the best benefits of a journal is the ability to set it down. It allows me to get all my emotions, confused thoughts, or creativity out on the page, and then walk away and live my life fully, rather than be thinking about my life all the time. It’s like an emotional and mental thought bin.
So whatever your current burdens you are carrying, or ideas you are pondering, I recommend some sort of place that you can deposit that information so that you can take some weight off your mind and leave it somewhere. It will be there when you come back and are ready to look further into it.
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Joel is a husband, father, musician, and lover of life; especially life that is shared with the wealth of amazing friends and family he is blessed to have near.