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The Blind Shot...


Paul MacCormack

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Within the game of golf there are few things more thrilling than the blind shot.  A close approach shot or a tee ball into a short par three can leave us clambering up and over a hillock or dune to see where we ended up. There is usually a good deal of luck or chance involved, along with a good dose of both joy and despair, but the anticipation that shots like these provide make for a lot of fun during a round.

But like anything in this life, too much of a good thing can be problematic. In the early history of the game, blind shots were more frequent because most courses were more simply laid out across the links' land. Early architects and green keepers didn’t have the ability to move much earth, so in order to connect the routing, the occasional blind shot was unavoidable.  The early players of the game were also not that plentiful, so traffic issues were not a problem. You can still find blind shots in more modern designs, but our notions of what is fair within the game have also changed dramatically. 

The quirkiness of too many blind shots quickly evaporates if people get hurt. They can also create longer than necessary rounds if people are spending too much time searching for their golf balls. It doesn’t mean that we need to necessarily bulldoze every hill into submission and remove all uncertainty, but the game has evolved and hence blindness has diminished over time.

The same principles can be applied to our personal lives. The occasional blind spot in our personalities can provide variety and quirk. If the blind spot is relatively harmless, then people can usually overlook the trait and our lives can proceed without much trouble. We are mere humans after all. But as with links courses of old, if we have too many “Dell Holes” within our personalities, the patterns that result can cause us a great deal of suffering.

The occasional blind spot in our personalities can provide variety and quirk...

For me personally, my introspection and mindfulness practice has allowed me to reflect on what others have recognized as "blind shots" in my personality. On the surface, two of the main culprits may seem fairly innocuous and are widely accepted as desirable human traits. I tend to be a very hard worker and I care a lot about other people. When these two things occur in proper proportion within my daily journey, they rarely cause too much trouble. In fact, when they are balanced with everything else in my life, they provide a great deal of good for many people (including myself).

You may be thinking to yourself, what in the world is wrong with working hard and caring for others? As I said, when these traits are operating within healthy boundaries in my life, then they are not problematic. It’s when they take over and bully their way in front of everything else, they become dangerous and very harmful.

With regards to work, we can all appreciate what happens when it goes too far. My health suffers; I am constantly exhausted, and more prone to effects of stress. I make poor decisions, eat takeout too often and I overuse alcohol or tech distractions to unwind.  As a result, my family life and relationships suffer and I struggle to do my job to the best of my ability. 

With regards to work, we can all appreciate what happens when it goes too far...

When it comes to helping others, the proportion issue is much the same. When my desire to help others supersedes my ability to create healthy boundaries, I can be prone to compassion fatigue. I can also put the perceived needs of others ahead of my own needs and those of my family. 

My meditative practice has helped me tremendously in confronting and realizing the effects these blind spots have on my life. It has helped me listen to my body and heed the cues it can offer forth. It has allowed me to open my mind and listen to those around me when they offer constructive criticism. Offering compassion inwardly has also helped in both my ability to work and help others in a more sustainable way. 

It’s not to say that I have fixed these life patterns completely; far from it at times. But my awareness of these habits has helped me to find more space within my life. It’s definitely hard work being this honest with yourself, but it’s so very worth it in the long run. 

I would encourage you to look inward and see if you can identify internal blind spots. See if there is anything in your life that others are gently nudging you to examine and maybe take a look with an open perspective. As I mentioned earlier, the occasional blind spot can be quirky and harmless. They can even add variety and spice to one’s life.  But there are definitely times in our lives that having things in plain view can be very helpful.  Proceed with self compassion as your anchor. Kindness to self is the oxygen mask we all need to put on as we navigate turbulence both within and in the greater world around us.

Thanks so much for reading.

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Beyond caring for or desiring to help others, a personality quirk commonly cited by mental health care professionals as one that can be even more problematic if taken to an extreme is trying to please other people all the time.

There's a big difference between striving to help others and seeking to please them. I fully align with the former, not so much with the latter, which more often than not leads to personal disappointment.

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