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Mindful : October 2018
I was sitting in a session with a therapist named Paul on a well-used couch in the trendy Mission District of San Francisco, staring at the antique toy fire trucks placed along his window- sill and balancing a glass of water in my lap. A friend had suggested that...just maybe...therapy would be a helpful thing for me to do. I was out of work and ending a relationship, and although I trusted that things were going to turn out okay, Iwasabitatsea. Paul listened to a synopsis of my entire life, including a short foray into my Ohio child- hood, my marriage at 18 and divorce at 21, and a quick trip through 20 years in Germany, Japan, Canada, and England culminating in the Sausalito, California, café where I thought I was ABOUT THE AUTHOR Kelly Boys is a trainer with the United Nations Foundation, where she helped create a mindfulness and well-being program for UN aid workers. She is also host of “Mindfulness Monthly” on Soundstrue.com. When you’ve been on the receiving end of random, difficult, or sometimes horrible life events, you develop a bullshit detector for people who blame the victim. This was not that. This was an honest and genuine question pointing out my own participation in my life patterns. I was undefended and ready to learn something new, ready to grow. I trusted that shining a light on my blind spots would be good and produc- tive, although probably painful. Up until that moment I had taken a random and fateful approach to the happenings and events in my life—shit happens, good stuff hap- pens, and it’s how you navigate it all that mat- ters. I had never thought of my hidden traits in this way before: so pointedly, urgently, and glob- ally. I’d done plenty of work on my emotional life, like setting free self-limiting beliefs and get- ting in touch with self-compassion and self-trust through mindfulness meditation, but none of this had revealed Paul’s insight that something I wasn’t seeing at all—a blind spot—was driving my behavior. He helped me recognize that what I was missing was just past the edge of my own perceptual horizon. Realizing that this stuff was obvious to someone I’d just met, stuff that had been entirely out of view to me, woke me up. What had I been missing? What I discovered, with Paul’s gentle nudg- ing, was that my biggest blind spot had to do with accommodating other people’s blind spots. I had “protected” certain important people in my life from the impact of their own uncon- scious behavior—that is, until I finally couldn’t take it anymore and blurted out their blind spots. That’s where the trouble happened; my unexpected and uncharacteristic speaking of the truth rarely went over well. In fact, it’s how I ended up in that coffee shop in Sausalito, shocked when I was let go from my job. Survival of the biased I know I’m not alone. Why is it that so many of us often suffer for no clear reason? What are the patterns (especially those we can’t perceive) that interrupt our healthy and sane functioning? Why are we all trying so darn hard to defend → “Do you want to look at your blind spot, or do you want to let these patterns repeat?” That was it—that was the question that changed everything for me. going out for a coffee and ended up getting fired. Then Paul studied me through his tortoise shell- framed glasses and asked, “Do you want to look at your blind spot, or do you want to let these patterns repeat?” Boom! That was it—that was the question that changed everything for me. I spoke from the depths of my being, and with trepidation and an unsuppressed laugh, when I replied, “ Yes. Hell, yes.” In that moment, I was ready to hear my therapist’s words. October 2018 mindful 71 psychology