Do you ever feel like a horse with its blinders on, to keep it from panicking? I think we all have at some time or another. I love the horse analogy because I think that analogy is one most of us can relate to and also because we can see what the blinders do for the horse. They actively keep the horse's attention straight in front of him/her so that he won't get distracted or panicked by something going on around him. That is what we do to ourselves. We put blinders on so that we won't see something that we are unconsciously afraid of. The blind fear here is that if I see this it will upset me or panic me or embarrass me or disappoint me. It is better not to see.
If we were aware we were doing this, then the blinders would be taken off. This is another example of how we protect ourselves from hurt or perceived hurt. I love how these protective mechanisms work for us. And I also love how when we become aware of what we are doing, often we are able, even with the fear, to take the blinders off.
I see as a patient someone who was experiencing this very phenomenon. She was describing how her sister was doing something which was against their father's wishes. The way she described her sister was as having a co-dependent victim mentality. Their father who was ill didn't want any visitors and asked that his children give him space. Her sister decided that she knew better than he did, and so made plans to go anyway and to help her stepmother, her father's wife, who didn't ask for help. In fact, she actively didn't want help. The stepmother had asked my patient to please intercede and talk her sister into not coming.
As my patient was describing what was occurring, it was clear she saw her sister as an enabler and controlling, yes, but also as a helper and wanting to do this for her parents. She really wanted to see her sister in this light. As I was listening to her, all I could think of was that her sister was doing this for herself, and it had nothing to do with co-dependency, but was all about her. I saw this as a very selfish act, and not in the best sense of the word.
I then proceeded to suggest that her sister was, in fact, doing this only for herself and that it was a very narcissistic act and also suggested that she look at her sister with different eyes, with eyes clear and without blinders. This sister is the oldest child and felt very disappointed by her parents. Her mother was a teenage mother who had her own growing up to do, and her parents divorced when she was a teenager and her father at first kept some distance from his children. She felt victimized and felt that she didn't get what she needed. And she didn't get what she needed. So now she hijacks situations so that she can have her needs met when it has nothing to do with the others but has all to do with herself. Thankfully my patient was able to hear this and was able to see that she was the enabler, the one who wanted harmony above all costs and that her sister was, in fact, acting in a very controlling and selfish manner without their father in mind or their stepmother in mind at all. These blinders helped her to keep the harmony she so desired and desired her whole life. Disharmony and confrontation are very difficult for her. It is important that she please others and that everybody gets along. This is an experience she didn't have with her parents and so she craved it. The blinders helped her to create the illusion in her that her sister has the best interests of others, in this case, her father and stepmother.
We all do this. Yet, by taking off the blinders, we can see something that was always there but beyond our consciousness. When we can allow us to see certain situations and people and dynamics clearly, we can then open us to seeing a greater truth and our own souls growth to blossom.
Shift Your Story/Shift Your Life:
Let's take a moment and think about a time or situation where we had blinders on and couldn't see something that was right in front of us. This could be a partner, a child, a friend, and sibling, a parent, a colleague, and so on. Maybe because of our blinders we got hurt or felt betrayed or got caught in old family dynamics or felt stuck and stagnant. What comes to mind when this happened; you felt betrayed or frightened by something or got hurt, etc?
What red light did you not see that would be a warning sign as to keep your eyes open? This happens a lot with falling in love. The warning signs are there but we close our eyes and our feelings to them at the time. Breathe, and go back in time to that place and person or situation. What did you not want to see that became apparent later? Now, having located that time, slow down your thinking and pay attention to what you didn't want to see. Now look at it with compassionate eyes. What was it about this person or situation or place where you didn't want to see something? What did it remind you of, from maybe when you were small? What would you have seen which would have upset you or challenged a dream or illusion? Now, imagine you seeing it with open eyes and taking this moment into the present. With this clear-eyed vision, does this in any way remind you of something or someone in your life in the present, or of someone you know? Just notice and breathe it in.
Everything we are doing here is without judgment, but just stepping away and noticing. Now you brought it close to your vision and you can apply this awareness today in something in your life. Take a moment or two or three and write down what you noticed and became aware of so you can make it yours.