We took my mom’s car when we went up north a few weeks ago; it is a classic “low mileage, only driven to church and shopping” elderly person’s car. As I adjusted the mirrors, I was aware that the blind spot on the driver’s side was a bit different from the blind spot in my car, and I made a note to pay attention.
A few days after that trip, the idea of blind spots came back to me—not the car kind but the psychological sort. I had been reflecting on a conversation from earlier that day; I had been criticizing someone’s behavior. In replaying my words, though, I realized I was actually envious.
It was an epiphany.
I pride myself on being able to accept life as it is, on being content with what I have. But, I now see that this has been a blind spot, and I am not as content as I like to think—at least in some parts of my life.Our brains are predisposed toward patterns (or so says the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon) so once our brains register something new, we are naturally more inclined to see this thing again.
My first awareness of being envious happened a few months ago, and I was surprised to recognize this trait in myself. But now, a few months later, I can see much more clearly that envy has long been part of my life. It was probably there all along, but I was blind to it.
Now that my eyes have been opened, though, I am quite aware of how often I think and say things that betray my idealized self-portrayal.
And upon reflection, I see past times when I thought I was merely being observational, but really I was envious.
I remember one incident from college that I now see in a different light. I went to a Catholic college run by Augustinian Friars who take a vow of poverty. Fr. John was my confessor. He was smart, kind and compassionate. And he was a frequent traveler—to Florida over Christmas break or Rome on spring break or someone’s shore house in the summer or….
“My goal,” I told him, “is to be as poor as you are so I can see the world on someone else’s dime.” He laughed. At the time, I thought I was merely being observational (and perhaps witty); now I can see that I was envious.
Ironically, I have traveled the world on other people’s money. I have been showered with an abundance of opportunity, generosity and kindness. And I am deeply grateful.
Yet, here I was the other day, grousing about someone getting a workshop paid for—even though a month earlier, I had attended a workshop that someone else paid for. Talk about a blind spot!
Now that this blind spot have been revealed, I can be more attentive to the insecurity that causes me to be envious and take steps toward being more grateful and content.