Automotive technology has produced several lifesaving innovations in the past decade, including revamped side mirrors, back-up cameras, and blind-spot monitoring systems. Our cars now beep when backing up to alert us of obstacles. Lights flash in your side mirrors when another vehicle is in your blind spot. These features are now invaluable as means to notify us of potential hazards, otherwise undetectable.

Blind spots exist beyond automobiles. Personal blind spots affect our interactions, because they limit the way we act, react, behave, and believe. Unchecked, these blind spots can be hazardous and may derail our relationships.

Lest you think you are immune, we all have points of view and hidden assumptions that prevent us from seeing other people and, just as importantly, from seeing ourselves. Our preferences in how we think and behave have been developing since birth. Most of us are contentedly blind to the fact that our predispositions exist.

Personal growth requires that we probe deeper and discover our blind spots so we can avoid hazards in our relationships. Hear this: the first step is to acknowledge you have blind spots, and that they can influence your interactions. Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher credited with founding the philosophical system of Taoism, said it this way: “He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.”

For many years, I was oblivious to my habit of asking questions—too many questions, in rapid-fire—when meeting someone new. What I thought was expressing genuine interest in the person was easily misconstrued as nosiness, too personal, and crossing a line that I could not perceive. Finally, someone had the courage (and found a moment between queries) to suggest that my inquisitiveness needed a governor. A light bulb went on, and I finally saw myself through the eyes of the victims of my unwelcome, though well-intentioned, interrogations. A change was needed.

While I may continue to hold my reputation as someone who gets the scoop, I am more self-aware. In conversations, I am more mindful of the way I come across. Fingers crossed, I have learned to pause and allow warmth and graciousness to accompany my genuine interest in the person under my spotlight. 

It would be lovely to have flashing lights and beeping sounds to alert us when we are about to put our foot in our mouths or inadvertently reveal a hidden bias. Instead, it’s up to us to figure how to outsmart our brains to prevent them from filling in an automatic response.

When personal growth is the goal, we need to be open to looking back in our own rearview mirror to discover our blind spots. Then, adjust accordingly.

I’m here if you need me. Until then, y’all behave.