I was teaching in an elementary school recently and having a discussion with a young boy about his homework assignment. I noticed he was looking intently at my face. He suddenly blurted out, “Ewwwww….you have HAIR in your nose!” LOL. It is a good thing I was not drinking my coffee because we both would have been drenched at that point. I said, “Buddy, you do too. Everyone has hair in their nose.” He shook his head in disbelief. I am sure he was going to have a chat with Mom about that one when he got home. Hope she was not drinking coffee when he told her.
Isn’t that just human nature? We tend to see flaws in others and never think it might apply to ourselves. I know for me because I am a writer it is very easy to pick out grammatical errors in the writing of others. However, I know for a fact that I often don’t see the same mistakes in my own writing. I can’t explain it, but I guess that is why most writers require an editor before publishing. We know what we are saying and somehow overlook the structure or grammar problems in our own work.
I think it must be a defense mechanism that is built in naturally, but it is not necessarily a good thing. We can’t seem to see ourselves as others see us. That explains how people can struggle with things like anorexia. They see themselves as overweight and yet they are thin as rails.
To really “see” yourself clearly, there are a few things you can do to clear your vision:
- First and foremost, you have to admit you have blind spots. If you can’t admit that, then don’t read any further. If you don’t think you have any, ask someone who loves you to tell you the truth. I have a feeling you will be surprised.
- Ask people who know and love you to let you know when you are getting off the right path. It does not matter what it is, you just need someone who will speak the truth to you in love, not just tell you what you want to hear.
- When you find yourself focusing on the faults of others, it is time to rewind and look in the mirror. Find the beam in your own eye before you start removing the spec from your brother’s eye. It is a lot less hypocritical if a huge beam is not sticking out of your own eye. Right?
Clearly seeing yourself can be both enlightening and disheartening at the same time. Sometimes we have faults that are toxic to ourselves as well as to others. You have probably known people who struggle with addictions. If they can’t break the addiction on their own, they need professional help. If you have a friend or a loved-one who is an addict, the worst thing you can do is ignore the problem. The second worst thing that hurts is when you enable them.
If you have a tender heart, I know how hard it is hard to confront and how easy it is to enable, but I guess that is what is needed: “tough love.” True love is willing to say no. It is willing to intervene. It makes the difficult decision that goes against your heart’s cry and the cries of those you are enabling. Really loving someone is making a decision for them that they can’t make for themselves.
P.S. Now that I am painfully aware of my nose hair, I have purchased a trim kit. It is the least thing I can do to minimize the trauma on the kids I encounter.