For almost four years, I’ve been guided by my friend and spiritual counselor Tricia Barrett, who I first met when she was running the green juice detox cleanse at the integrative medicine practice where I worked. With a boatload of life experience, hard earned wisdom, and a masters in intuitive medicine, Tricia has gently and relentlessly refused to let me stay blind to how I create and recreate my own suffering.

You know those scenarios you repeat in your life? The same abusive, alcoholic boyfriends who take all you have to give, give little in return, and then walk out on you? The same co-workers who steal your brilliant ideas without crediting you and then get the promotion you deserve? The same way you attract mentors who help out, and then when you succeed, reject you and break your heart? The same way you set a goal, get excited about achieving it, start going after it, and then give up before you go there?

You get the picture.

Meet Your Blind Spot

Any time something happens repetitively, chronically, over and over again, you can bet there’s a blind spot underneath it. You may be tempted to fall into victim mode. (“There he goes again – another asshole who just uses people!” “There they go again, my lying, cheating, stealing co-workers who lack integrity!” “There it is, happening again, those mentors who get so jealous of my success that they can’t be excited and then have to reject me.”)

You may blame everyone else and think “Poor me! Why do all these crappy things keep happening to me?”

But the only thing those scenarios all have in common… is YOU and something you don’t see – your blind spot.

My Separation Story

One of my own blind spots revolved around a story I had recreated in my life over and over and over again. In fact, I’ve blogged a lot about it, because it taps into one of my core childhood wounds, the feeling of being rejected because I was “too smart,” “too pretty,” “too whatever.” (You can read about the loneliness of leadership and the poem dedicated to the outsiders that I wrote when I was 14.)

Over and over in my life, I have played out the same story. I get shut out when I succeed. Others got jealous if I make straight A’s, got the guy, won the award. Then in med school, I got chastised for being too vigilant with the care of my patients and making the med students look bad. (They have a term for it – “gunner”- which always hurt my feelings because I never set out to make someone else look bad, only to do a good job and care for the patients.)

The pattern continued until I played this separation story in my mind like a record. If you want anything done right, you have to do it yourself. Nobody else cares about doing exceptional work as much as I do.  And most painfully – unless I dim my light and dumb myself down, I’ll wind up rejected.

Sheesh! OLD STORY!

How We Create Our Own Suffering

With Tricia’s guidance, I was able to finally see how this story is only true because I keep calling in evidence to prove my separation story right. The truth is that I’m surrounded by bright, sparkly lights that are unapologetically radiating and attracting people like moths to the flame. My tribe is full of people who don’t have a jealous bone in their body and want nothing more than for me and everyone else to succeed.

The separation story is a figment of my ego, who I lovingly call Victoria Rochester and who you can read about here.  Victoria likes to make herself superior, convince herself that nobody can do as good a job as she can, and assert that she can’t shine her light around others because they can’t be trusted. Because of Victoria’s often unconscious behaviors, she recreates her own suffering, since those who feel like they’re inferior to her have no interest in sticking around! Rejection follows, and BOOM. She’s just proven the story right – again.

The Solution Is Simple

The minute you see the blind spot, it’s like this glaring, gaping wound, red and raw and impossible to miss. But until you see it, it festers, inflaming your life and creating repetitive suffering. Once the blind spot is illuminated, you can’t help but to change your behavior. You realize the stories you’ve been telling yourself simply aren’t true. You’re no longer the victim, but rather the creator of your life. It’s all about taking personal responsibility for what happens to you, rather than blaming everybody else.

Ever since I saw mine, evidence that my separation story was true disappeared. Beautiful new people appeared in the void it left behind. I am surrounded by people I admire, who are happy to teach me, as we share space as equal sparks of divinity walking around in flawed human bodies. I have eased my own suffering because my dear friend Tricia showed me a blind spot.

What’s Your Blind Spot?

What is repetitive, chronic, and hurtful in your life? What keeps happening – over and over and over? Do you keep attracting the same screwed up relationship patterns? Do you continue to overgive and wind up feeling like a victim? Do you keep making yourself less than or better than?  Do you continue to get passed over for promotions at work?

Here comes the part that requires fearless living. What might you be doing to create your own suffering? If you step out of victim mode, what’s your part in creating these stories? Are you brave enough to illuminate your blind spot and take ownership of it?

Please, my dear, be so brave. While it may feel painful to have your blind spots illuminated, the freedom you feel coming out the end is worth every zinger.

Here with a flashlight,

Lissa

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34 Comments

  1. Michele

    I read your lbog today and I don’t understand. If these things have happened in your life that how do you say now that it didn’t

    Reply
    • MS

      The line is amended in my own post below. It is incomplete I feel. The idea is not that the trauma was not true. It was, otherwise you wouldn’t be suffering and have a blind spot. Something triggered the trauma and these triggers can be mild to apocalyptic in personal human value. I believe it should read: “You realize the stories you’ve been telling yourself simply aren’t true [anymore]”.

      Although caution should be noted. A person may still be forced to have contact with the original trauma experience/person that triggered the destructive patterns in the first place. A destructive trigger is much more than a habitual attitude problem. It links to a complex perception of self. It is our insecurity however introvert or overt which affects our daily lives and those around us.

      The liberation of this post is in the idea of renewal, that the stories (perhaps ‘memories as today’s truth’ may be a better description) of our own weakness, hurt, sadness and inability to effect change are not true — anymore. Today is made your own way. I would encourage you to read Lisa’s post again with this in mind. It is brilliant and I hope it can bring you comfort.

      Reply
  2. Bob Moyers

    Self-righteousness is the trigger that sets off the blind spot cycle. We must remove the self-righteousness blind spot from our eye so we can remove the self-righteousness blind spot from the eyes of others. My “trigger” – the “how dare you do that” button was also rejection. I have no control over rejections. Jesus says to be happy when we are rejected instead of letting the negative trigger go off and anger, resentment, bitterness, hurt, hatred and rage set in. Jesus said happy are you when you will be rejected falsely, have joy and be exceedingly glad because great is your reward. Last winter, I had the opportunity to give God something. I got down on my knees and gave him the negative emotions I received when I am rejected. He did it. I know live in the positive since I have no control over what the other person does in reacting and responding to my request. Keep up the wonderful work. Have you read our Be Healthy Plan For Positive People?

    Reply
  3. Bob Moyers

    Self-righteousness is the trigger that sets off the blind spot cycle. We must remove the self-righteousness blind spot from our eye so we can remove the self-righteousness blind spot from the eyes of others. My “trigger” – the “how dare you do that” button was also rejection. I have no control over rejections. Jesus says to be happy when we are rejected instead of letting the negative trigger go off and anger, resentment, bitterness, hurt, hatred and rage set in. Jesus said happy are you when you will be rejected falsely, have joy and be exceedingly glad because great is your reward. Last winter, I had the opportunity to give God something. I got down on my knees and gave him the negative emotions I received when I am rejected. He did it. I now live in the positive since I have no control over what the other person does in reacting and responding to my request. Keep up the wonderful work. Have you read our Be Healthy Plan For Positive People?

    Reply
    • MS

      The dictionary definition of SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS (adjective) is: confident of one’s own righteousness, especially when smugly moralistic and intolerant of the opinions and behavior of others.

      “We must remove the self-righteousness blind spot from our eye so we can remove the self-righteousness blind spot from the eyes of others.” Yet surely a group of people removing the self-righteous blind spot from another group of people in the way you suggest – is an act of self-righteousness? And it is impossible in an absolute sense. You suggest you can do it for them (se we can remove the blind spot from the eyes of others). But only they can do it for themselves. The truth in my view is a 180 degree turn on your statement. You can offer help, support and guidance but nothing more. But this passive form of support is not in any way at all, self-righteousness. Kindness or patience as someone undergoes their own pathway of self discovery is not a dominant act of moral self superiority.

      I love the energy in your post, and I’m not being picky. I love the good nature and human interest in your post but to use one of the most damaging terms of dogmatism and superiority in the English language, overshadows the interesting concepts you then go on to offer. I posted my observation because of your interest in helping others. Some people would throw everything you offer in the bin, just for the use of this term and its implications. Blessings 🙂

      Reply
  4. Nanette

    Oh, the gut wrenching truth of your words is stinging a bit. But I had to smile when I read your closing “Here with a flashlight”. Love that. Thank you.

    Reply
  5. Erika Leal

    Hello Lissa;
    First, I want to say thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond to your post. I started subscribing to your posts, and daily inspirations a while ago. On occasion there were posts that I wanted to respond to, but didn’t know how. This one comes at a very relevant time in my life. My Blind Spot? Well, it’s something I have been struggling with all my life. I have sought and wanted a family for a very long time. In my mind I was always convinced that it had to be of blood relation. I am the only person in my family born in Canada. Most relatives are either in Europe, South America or Australia. My father, who I believe for good reason (in my opinion) left my mother when I was very young. I struggled for 30 years to have a relationship with my mother that became so personally destructive, I had to end it. Meanwhile, my father left and started a new family in the United States. After I had failed at having a relationship with my mother, I moved to the U.S. (at great personal expense to myself and my partner) to try to have a relationship with my father and his other family. Once again, this was also not successful. What I failed to see all along was that I had friends and a partner here, right in front of me, who have been there for me through thick and thin. My problem has been that I seemed to always be pursuing what I could not have, thinking that if we are not related by blood, we’re not really family. But I think I have finally come to understand that blood has very little if anything to do with “Family”. Family does not have to be a genetically determined entity. It is an idea. Just like a house is not a home.

    So I wanted to thank you today for your words. I hope that my Blind Spot has been erased from my conscience and I can now dedicate my life, my time and my efforts to more productive pursuits.
    Regards,
    Erika

    Reply
  6. Michele

    For years (from childhood on) my blindspot had to do w/ friendships. I would give my all to them and in the end something would happen that would leave me hurt, betrayed and devastated. Each time, the healing process/recovery became more and more difficult.

    Finally, when I saw that I was passing this particular blindspot onto my kids, I decided to take stock of this situation, and figure out why this issue kept cropping up in my life. It took a great deal of soul searching and even more courage to accept the responsibility for my role in this.

    Once I faced the uncomfortable truth that I had unwittingly perpetuated this harmful pattern in my life, I was finally able to break the cylcle and move forward with my life.

    Since then, I have set healthy boundaries and have developed some very dear friendships that I was unable to do before.

    Life has a way of testing us and when we fail to better ourselves through them we will keep repeating it until we pass it….and then something else will crop up and we start all over again. Thats the beauty of it, we are constantly offered new chances to do it right, whether we do or not is up to us.

    Reply
  7. Millie Bee

    Thanks for sharing this with the world, Lissa!

    Do you view Victoria Rochester in a different light now?

    Reply
  8. Lissa Rankin, MD

    Wow. Thank you all for sharing your blind spots. And Millie, yes, I do view Victoria differently these days. I actually appreciate her. She has taught me much, and instead of beating myself up over her, I’m able to be much more compassionate with her…

    Reply
    • Millie Bee

      I think it’s safe to say she’s taught many more people, too. In your blogging, for example: all-Lissa-nanda no-Victoria-Rochester would make for something beautiful, inspiring, hopeful, and largely unrelatable. Arguably, she’s been essential in this way. (And likely several other ways.) I’d like to send her, and all of you, my sincerest gratitude! Thank you for letting us in, and pulling us up.

      Reply
  9. Michelle

    Wow Lissa! I am so glad to have discovered you. Thank you for sharing all of who you are with the world! And like Nanette above I also smiled when I read the “here with the flashlight” bit. You have just the right balance of seriousness and lightheartedness for me xx.

    Reply
  10. Gwen

    Hi Lissa,
    I learned this several years ago, as well, when negativity in my life was a repetitive cycle. You are so right, the common denominator in this, is ‘you’.
    I was lucky enough to find a friend that gave messages like yourself. This is what attracted me to your site.
    I now have frequent discussions with others about what are they doing that brings up these issues over and over again. They usually blame others they meet, until I say, ‘have you ever thought that you are the common denominator in this? And what are you going to do to change this?’
    I too now can say “My tribe is full of people who don’t have a jealous bone in their body and want nothing more than for me and everyone else to succeed.”
    I am so thrilled, that you took it upon yourself to share this message around the world.
    Thank you Lissa
    xox

    Reply
  11. Cherish

    It took a lot for me to be able to face my blind spot. After almost two decades as a successful counsellor and mentor, I hit the wall, last August, with a serious medical crisis, which is only, just now, coming under some control. It was my blind spot that caused the majority of my suffering and, likely, my illness and, boy, was it a struggle to work through. I had to learn to trust, how to ask for help and how to let go of control. I was, actually, rendered helpless for several months. Scariest time of my life.
    Ever since my parent’s sudden and completely unexpected split, when I was nine, I became the adult, the one who held it all together, made sure everyone else was okay and who’s personal needs always came last. That was a beginning of four decades of being “the strong one”, “the one to talk to”, “the one who was always uplifting”. Problem with that was, I wasn’t allowed to be weak, to want or need anything, to ever be mad or sad. And who made those rules? I did.
    I just turned 50 a cpl weeks ago. The second half of my life is going to be very different than the first half, I can assure you of that 🙂
    If there’s anyone reading this who’s afraid to let go, please, please, please DO IT. I promise, you’ll be so glad you did. You can quote me, afterward: On the other side of fear you will always find freedom, but you have to go through it to find it. It’s so worth the journey 🙂

    Reply
  12. Lissa Rankin, MD

    I love this Cherish “If there’s anyone reading this who’s afraid to let go, please, please, please DO IT. I promise, you’ll be so glad you did.” I TOTALLY second this! The only to it is through it, but it’s worth the discomfort.

    May you all find the courage to face your blind spots (and may you all be lucky enough to have friends like Tricia!

    Much love
    Lissa

    Reply
  13. Ellyn

    Hey Lissa,

    I have been wrestling with this for quite a while, and your words just reached right out and smacked me. And then I had this lightbulb pop in my head…. I realize that I have been making myself the perfect victim. I go out of my way to “be” there for people without regard for my own plans or happiness, and then I feel so bad when I end up getting my feelings hurt or my bank account is empty. I

    I know now that I need to start saying no, but I am SO scared. I will be working on this for the time being and trying to stay strong now that I am aware of what has been happening and how others have used my buttons to get what they want.

    As always, you are my heroine – and you are helping me and so many others to gain new clarity and hopefully a better life.

    Blessings

    Ellyn

    Reply
  14. Lissa Rankin, MD

    You can do it Ellyn! And yes, I know it stings to hear this stuff. It stung when Tricia first told me. But better to be unblinded and hurt than blind and consistently recreating our own suffering, right? I feel super grateful to Tricia for helping me see my blind spots and if what I’ve written has helped illuminate yours, I’m grateful to that too. Even more so, I bow to you for the courage it takes to pull out the flashlight. You go girl!

    Much love
    Lissa

    Reply
  15. catherine

    Hi Dr. Lissa, I just love you so much and have been following you for awhile now from Owning Pink. This information is hitting home! I do feel I’ve made some significant progress in my healing journey but…. It (blind spot) definately revolves around relationships and oh yes, this one I am in now is teaching me a lot. So ” taking responsibility for what happens to me ” is my goal. I really want to leave this old victim role behind for once and for all and grow into who i am becoming!
    Thanks for everything xxx

    Reply
  16. Lissa Rankin, MD

    Oh good Catherine. Good luck with your journey! And good point Millie! (Thanks Victoria for making me blessedly screwed up and perfectly human.)

    May we all make peace with the fact that really, we’re doing the best we can…

    Reply
  17. Cassie

    Hi Lissa,

    I found your post very intriguing and had to take a moment to read it. At first I thought “I don’t have one” but then I realized it is what I have been giving my self permission to do very recently–to not be a therapist to my friend who is constantly depressed. I work in the mental health field and provide support to people all day long. In the past year I have developed a chronic illness that drains my energy and forces me to prioritize my health, which is a blessing. I no longer have the energy to listen to my friend’s unrelenting troubles with no solutions. I have set limits with her, which felt uncomfortable at first but now feels very freeing. I have made new friends who are happy and joyful like me, and lift me up when I need the support. I don’t know if my condition will shorten my life, so I want to make the most of every day.

    Is this what you are talking about?

    Thanks, you are awesome!!

    Reply
  18. Tamara Epps

    My problem is that I can see the symptom but not the blind spot. I come up with ideas that I get really excited about and start doing. But then, at some point, for no apparent reason I stop with my plans and goals (sometimes to move on to another great idea) and so end up with lots of starting and no finishing. It is beginning to wear me down but I can’t work out how to change this pattern.

    How do you find your blind spot when you are too close to your own picture?

    Reply
    • lizzire

      This is where I am. I see the pattern, but not the blind spot!

      Reply
  19. Marta

    Thanks Lissa, and Thanks to ALL for the courage I see in all your posts. I am moved by so many people facing their fears, asking the questions, going for LIFE! I’m inspired… Your post popped on my email precisely at the right time (no surprises here): within 10 minutes of waking up my blind spot flared up in 3 occasions!!!! (it’s raining and my laundry was out getting wet, and two housemates didn’t do what they SHOULD have done according to MY rules and standards…INDIGNATION!! How dare they?? And how dare God make it rain when I’ve got my laundy out!!!??? Every time I feel a “should” come up, my alarm bells will go off now. It is I and my self righteousness, my urge to control what is not in my power, my anger when it doesn’t work, that create the suffering and deplete me of the energy I so need to live my life to the best of my ability. So with your help, I am today not letting myself ruin my day!!! And let it rain, is good for the plants!!! Have a loving day everybody!!

    Reply
  20. LindaLouiseReiki

    All of you, esp. Dr. Lissa, are so AWESOME. Your stories are so heart-warming and encouraging.
    A blind spot may the missing piece that could answer what I have been dealing with recently–“Holy cow, not THAT, again?!”
    Thanks… I think!!! 😉
    LL

    Reply
  21. Lissa Rankin, MD

    I love you all for being so brave! Tamara, if you’re looking for help identifying your blind spot, you might consider doing a session with Tricia. You can reach her at Tricia@GreenResurrection.com. Tell her I sent you and I know she’ll take very good care of you.

    For others who have identified a repeating pattern but not the blind spot that likely underlies it, perhaps you can find a trusted friend, not one who will project their own blind spots onto you but someone who you know with 100% certainty wants nothing but the best for you, and tell that person you’ve identified a pattern and are seeking a cause. Sometimes it’s so much easier for us to see our friend’s blind spots than it is our own. Just start looking- not judging and not preaching- but just noticing how you friends create their own suffering. And invite your friends to help you…

    Or seek out a spiritual counselor, therapist, or coach who is skilled at such things…

    Much love
    Lissa

    Reply
  22. Donna Workman

    Lisa
    Wow, did that hit a nerve. I was always the one who had to give the most, do the most no matter the cost and lack of appreciation to all to whom i was giving. i put new meaning to martyr. I suffered in silence for the lack of return of all my good deed. Now this thought pattern makes me a little sick at my stomach. I studied, re-evaluated, prayed, talked until my light bulb came on and burned me, quite effectively dissovling my blind spot. It is exhilirating to think how good that realization was for my well being. Amazingly I can still reach out, love , and give while refusing to be absorved by any subconscious need for affirmation. This disected life surely takes a lot of energy, but I have no words for how much better it feels. Here’s to a lot of self love, a little selfishness, and a whole lot of freedom
    Donna

    Reply
  23. Michelle Medina

    OUCH!! I’ve got the blindspot of thinking only I can do for myself. . . The more I read what you wrote the more it sank in. One of my friends was just saying I should start a foundation for myself, for my future and I said I didn’t know anything about the business aspect of it and wouldn’t trust anyone else to run it. Wow. . . It falls right in line with the I want what I “DESERVE”! Interestingly enough, it also falls in line with it’s polar opposite, I won’t ever get because I don’t “DESERVE”! Sheesh! It’s a miracle I’ve encountered new people at all!
    Thank you for this Lissa!!

    Reply
  24. MS

    This is something I wrote about my relationship with my mother in third person. “She feared she was a watercolour shadow in the noonday sun. She had never been enough. Not beautiful, not smart, not rich, not educated, not tall, not talented, not submissive, enough. Not anything, enough. She was never the glory girl for anyone. She thought with a broken glint in her eye about the inscription her mother would carve with pride on her gravestone: “They found her dead… enough.”

    ‘Hellish people create a hell around them’, is the best description of my mother. An example is that I was sexually abused between the ages of 2 and 7 by a cousin. When I told her at age 15 as I didn’t have anyone else because she had forcefully isolated me from everyone with dogmatism and distain, she told me that I was responsible for his sexual misconduct, that I was responsible for him going to hell, and that I would have to be put in to care – along with my sister because of the trauma I’d caused to her. Bear in mind please that I had nowhere else to go and no other family or friends to turn to. It turns out she knew he had started doing it but turned a self delusion eye to it. She made me confront his mother, who called me a liar. It turns out she knew too. The impact of my only care giver rejecting and controlling me in this manner has had a catastrophic effect on my whole life.

    For me the brilliance of this post is in this statement: “You realize the stories you’ve been telling yourself simply aren’t true [anymore]. You’re no longer the victim, but rather the creator of your life.’ Equally I would add that this knowledge will make it easier to start eradicating the perpetuation of the original trauma (the blind spot). I without doubt fled my mother, into the arms of two successive men who were/are like her in many ways. The blind spot is a negative comfort zone and should not be dismissed lightly. But it can be understood and with clarity, overcome.

    Thank you for this great post and the daily flames which always make me smile.

    Reply
  25. Michelle

    This post made me very uncomfortable but I realize that my discomfort is about my own blind spot. I pride myself on knowing myself pretty well — and I generally do — so I don’t like the feeling that this is out of my control right now. I will have to do some more hard work to make the next changes I need to in my life. Thanks for pointing this out to me.

    Reply
  26. Lissa Rankin, MD

    Michelle, I feel you. Illuminating blind spots is uncomfortable but crucial. Thank you for being brave enough to see.
    Much love
    Lissa

    Reply
  27. kitrona

    I had a hard time getting past the “blaming” part of “what are you doing to make this happen?” It hurt, y’know? And I got immediately defensive, which means I wasn’t listening because it hurt and I had to make that /stoooooop/ (ugh, whatever part of me that is is so whiny…) and so I missed the entire point.

    I’m in a position now to actually absorb this lesson and not let my ego get in the way, so I thank you. I think I’m so convinced that I’m not worthy of people actually caring about me that I jump into things way too soon and don’t set boundaries, which allows people to walk all over me. Then I avoid talking about the hard stuff because it’s scary and it hurts and they might not actually like me if I tell them I’m mad at them for walking all over me, until it all explodes and takes out the relationship and any innocent bystanders.

    Time to do the hard work and discover the rest of my blind spots and how to fix them… scary — no, terrifying! — and difficult, but if I can change this pattern, so totally, utterly worth it. I think I’ll start the conversation with my therapist by showing her this post…

    Reply
  28. Lissa Rankin, MD

    I know this is hard, painful work Kitrona, but I swear it’s worth it. Great idea to discuss this with your therapist. May you find transformation and liberation through truth. And may you be EXCEEDINGLY kind to yourself in the process.

    WIth love
    Lissa

    Reply
  29. Marija Attard

    This is so very me right now! I am aware that as a child I created a cocoon around myself for protection against a fundamentally religious family. I also feel that because I am a very emotionally intense person, when I allow myself to be I have a very deep impact on the people around me, and so I feel I have to filter out my light to be able to interact with the people at work etc. I also feel as if I have not connected with my tribe yet. So thank you for writing this! I found it at the right time and I see this pattern clearly. I see it as an important opportunity to grow and I reach out more playfully and with joy. Much love and light. Would be great to read about what you’ve experienced in the past three years as a result of this insight.

    Reply
  30. lizzire

    I am desperate to find my tribe and have been in a deep depression for over three years, because I thought I found it, then found out I was very, very wrong. I see a pattern of things that have happened to me over and over, but I don’t know what my blind spot is. I’d love to start “calling in” my tribe, but don’t have the first clue as to how to do it. I’m willing to take responsibility for creating my own demise, but don’t know what action to take or STOP taking to stop tripping myself up. It is maddening. I have spent years, tens of thousands of therapy dollars and thousands of tears trying to heal, and feel like I’m right back where I was years ago when my tribe kicked me to the curb.

    Reply

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