“Encourage all your friends and loved ones to seek out your… blind spots… Note that the benefits of success are most unlikely to be confined to one’s relationships with children.”
– David Deutsch
From the archives: Posted on 1st March 1997
“[M]ost of us are working hard to find solutions, my failures seem (to me) to have far less to do with creativity than with recognizing those times when I make a mistake….
To me, that is the greatest challenge—the fact that my failures seem to lie in ‘blind spots’—things that I don’t even recognize as coercion (until someone—my children, or friends (such as those on this list)—points them out to me). Even when these blind spots have been pointed out, I have a tendency to deny them, to splutter and bluster and claim that whoever is criticizing me doesn’t understand … but, as often as I can manage, I stop, take stock, and can realize that whoops I have been being (or about to be) coercive. Having realized it—any non-coercive change is an improvement. I needn’t wait to be terribly creative about it. I don’t have to have the ‘best’ theory—simply any better theory.
This thought that blind spots are the greatest challenge was reflected in the practical exercises I mentioned in an earlier post: the thought experiment (What if my child’s wishes were the most important thing?)(rather like the TV commercial where the highway belongs to ‘Bob’); and the reflection exercise—whenever someone challenges me as being coercive/etc.—to (try to) avoid a defensive response and closely examine my actions and intentions.
Can anyone think of similar, concrete, approaches to attacking the challenge of blind spots? (Or is this not a problem for others?) These things are a tremendous challenge, as we are most likely entrenched in various irrationalities in exactly those areas where we have blind spots. So ways of getting past our own irrationalities are important.”
One idea: Encourage all your friends and loved ones to seek out your irrationalities, including “blind spots” (often not too difficult) and conjecture ways of curing them (usually very difficult)—or ameliorating them or working around them. Note that the benefits of success are most unlikely to be confined to one’s relationships with children. It is liberating across the board because “blind spots” are primarily one’s own problem.
- Great change of mind without self-sacrifice
- The right to refuse medical treatment
- Blind obedience, thoughtful obedience, ‘cooperation’