This story captured my interests because my wife Becky and I are currently helping a good friend survive a bitter divorce and come to grips with the emotional abuse she has suffered—mostly in lonely silence—over many years. Her soon-to-be-ex-husband’s almost constant put-downs and criticism have left her scarred and beaten down. Family, friends and neighbors have had glimpse of instances of his abuse, yet didn’t understand the frequency and severity until recently when our friend has opened up. Despite all this, he continues to claim he is innocent and she is making it all up.
I have come to believe that there is a good chance he really believes in his innocence—as apparently Jerry Sandusky does. This leads to questions: How can one be in such extreme self-denial? How can they not see and take responsibility for the obvious? Why such big blind spots with cruel consequences? Is there anything that can be done to help people like this?
There are more sobering and importantly questions: Do I have blind spots that hurt other people? How do I know if I do? What can I do to ensure that I can see into them and do something about them?
While we may be limited in what we can do to help others see into their blind spots—as frustrating as it may be, I believe there are things we can do about our own situations:
1. Develop and maintain close relationship with close family and friends where we are our true, unguarded selves and they feel free to communicate openly with us about anything.
2. Really listen to these close friends and with profound self-honesty and really think about an analyze input we receive about ourselves.
3. Develop a strong relationship with God through prayer and ask Him for help in seeing ourselves. There is a scripture that states, “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” (Ether 12:27)
4. Get help from mental health professionals and others when appropriate to us help change dysfunctional thinking patterns that lead us do things that hurt others.
I believe in these steps because I have lived through them, and they have helped me—and others around me. More than two decades ago, my dear wife told me I had become a workaholic and aloof from her and our children. She said this was hurting our family. Frankly, I didn’t see it. It was a big blind spot for me. She suggested I get counseling. I did, which began a difficult but wonderful journey of understanding myself better, and how some of my habits were hurting those who I loved the very most. I chose to change. I may have other problematic blind spots I should see into and deal with.
Seeing into our own blind spots and then seeking to change our unbecoming behaviors are critical to our personal happiness and that of those around us.