• Jenn Tomko

Relationship Blind Spots, A Bowl of Spaghetti, and Nancy Drew

Updated: Apr 28

As a licensed mental health therapist, I am often confronted with blind spots in nearly every case that comes my way; they present in several areas like anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and anger. In my personal life, where friends and family often approach me with life problems, relationship issues tend to be the most prominent. I must be honest with you too; even though I am a psychotherapist, I’ve dealt with my share of personal blind-spots that have got me into some frightening relationships and have cut the ties with relationships that were good for me. You are not alone here, and there is no shame in concluding that we all have varying issues that affect our relationship outcomes. So, let’s take a deeper look at a few things that could help you conceptualize your possible blind spots. 

  1. You Gotta be Brave to Start the Process of Self Awareness

Asking the question, “How do I recognize blind spots in my relationships?”, is a courageous first step in building awareness that something may be off. “Do I find myself in relationships with similar people who all have similar problems?” “Do arguments seem to pop up more frequently after I’ve been with someone for six months or longer- maybe after just a couple of weeks or even days?” “Is it them?”  Have you asked yourself, “Holy sh@#, is it me,”? Developing the bravery to ask these grueling questions is a great way to start identifying and working on the issues that could be getting in the way of cultivating healthy relationships. 

  1. Thoughts, Feelings, and Throwing the Bowl of Spaghetti Across the Room Because They Pissed You Off

Now we are getting into the more therapeutic approach of understanding those pesky blind spots. When you find yourself in new relationships quickly, fixing your partners, staying with that person when you know they aren’t right for you, dropping relationships quickly after they begin, or angry after hearing your partner/spouse say they don’t like your spaghetti, continue to ask questions to support self-awareness. As you continue to ask questions, consider something called the Cognitive Triangle to tackle blind spots. It goes like this: Something in our environment happens; we see it/hear it 🡪 We think something about it 🡪 We feel something because of that thought 🡪 We throw a bowl of spaghetti. 

As you begin to investigate those questions of self-awareness, take some time to ponder the following: what happened, what did I think about it, what did I feel about it, and what did I do about it. You may end up cleaning a lot of sauce and pasta off the floor and walls, but you will be more prepared to deal with similar issues in the future. You will begin understanding what you were thinking and feeling prior to launching a bowl across the dining room table.

  1. Nancy Drew Tracked Patterns; You Should Too

As you continue to work on self-awareness and those cognitive triangles, begin to identify possible themes or similarities between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Journaling or charting can be a great way to get those aspects out of your head so you can take a fresh look at them on paper. You can even begin this process with the first step. It may seem like a chore to have to write something when you know it’s in your head, but trust me, journaling and charting places everything in perspective for you to investigate. 

Consider also that apps exist that track thoughts and moods if you fear someone may pick up your journal when you aren’t around. When you begin to see patterns between the cognitive triangles, they may help you understand where some of the blind-spots are coming from and provide a hint to why you were so angry about the spaghetti in the first place.  

  1. Be Kind to Yourself, and Ask for Help

The spaghetti mess is trivial in comparison to what you may discover when you are Nancy-Drew-ing it. You may discover a giant conglomeration of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that leave you feeling more confused than when you started. For as difficult as it is, there is no shame in seeking help to deal with what you discover through use of the steps above. Seeking out the services of a trained therapist may allow you to find the deeper meanings of what came up through journaling and tracking. 

This can be the most difficult part of building a greater degree of self-awareness. A therapist will be able to provide you safety and a nonjudgmental atmosphere to explore you as a person, your needs, and your wants. A professional will help you identify cognitive schemas and early experiences that may be reinforcing your blind spots. With hope, you’ll eventually discover that it wasn’t the spaghetti that was hitting the floor and wall, but yourself. 

#blindspots #relationship

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