Seeing Your Blindspots

You have blindspots in your life. Admit it. Deal with it. No one is immune.

But why do we have blindspots? Part of the reason was to do with a portion of our brains known as the superior temporal sulcus. Great name, I know, but according to Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen in Thanks for the Feedback, it is one of the most important parts of our anatomy to understand to help us more appropriately address our blindspots. Here’s how they explain it:

     Infants sort what they hear through the superior temporal sulcus (STS), located just above the ear. At four months all auditory information–whether their mother’s voice or a car horn–is attended to by the STS. But by seven months, babies start singling out human voices as the only sounds that trigger attention from the STS, and the STS shows especially heightened activity when that voice carries emotion. This little piece of our brain is dedicated to taking in language and reading tone and meaning.

But get this: When we ourselves speak, the STS turns off. We don’t hear our own voice, at least not the same way we hear everyone else. This explains why we are so often surprised when we get feedback based on how we said something. (“Tone? I’m not using some kind of tone!”) It also helps explain why our voice sounds so unfamiliar when we hear ourselves on an audio recording.

You don’t see some of your blindspots (at least those related to your tone of voice) because your brain literally tunes you out. Of course you also don’t see your own facial expressions or body language because of your vantage point.

When you are driving, there are blindspots because you can’t see around certain visual obstacles in your own vehicle. In your life, you have blindspots because you are looking from the wrong vantage point. Just as you can’t see how badly the exterior of your house needs to be painted from inside, you can’t know the way you are perceived in the world from your own eyes and ears, it must be perceived from outside.

As you seek to grow in grace and holiness. As you work to be more like Christ, know this, others can help you to identify areas of weakness or even sin that you don’t even know you have. It turns out that the log in your own eye is not the only problem, the very placement of your eyes and the intricate work of your brain keeps you from perceiving yourself as the world sees you.

Someone’s perception of you may not be the you that you hope to convey, but perception is reality. The Proverbs teach us, “As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.” You need mirrors to see what your face looks like, and you need others to tell you about you. The irony is that others will often diagnose the condition of your heart better than you can.

You have blind spots. Find faithful saints who can not only help you to identify them, but can walk with you to heal your heart.