family

There’s something spectacular about the first fully formed words which a child is able to piece together.

We all know the classics. My sister’s first (and still favourite) word was ‘No’. My partner’s first word was ‘Dad’, which she swears was a deliberate effort on her Mum’s part to make him feel specially requested by his little girl when her cries woke them in the night.

Mine were odd. At the time, I was obsessed with a little picture book full of animals and colours. My first words were from my favourite page, ‘Grey duck.’

If you, your children or anyone you know had an interesting first word, or were well trained to say something strategic, I want to hear it.

Moments like these are worth savouring.

Pursuits are meaningful when they allow you to grow towards serving those you care about.

You could spend all your days and nights becoming the world’s best potato peeler, but unless you’re peeling potatoes to feed people you love, what’s the point?

How often do you have moments when you look at someone and think,

“They’re just not aware, are they?”

Like when someone’s staring at you but they don’t realise. Or domineering a conversation, totally unaware that they’re denying you the chance to speak because they’re so focussed on what they need to say.

We all have these blind spots.

I especially struggle with identifying when I’m getting close to overwhelm.

The people around me can usually tell when I’m trending towards overcommitting myself.

Even when they warn me, I rarely act on their advice before it’s too late.

Our minds are tricky that way. We reinforce our own defaults.

Even when told outright that I’m doing something stupid which is bothering those I care about, my mind finds a way to trick itself.

I’m okay. I can manage. They don’t understand. It’s not that bad.

But of course they understand. And if they’ve mustered the courage to initiate that awkward conversation, it is that bad.

We’re hardwired to trust our own thoughts almost blindly, while scrutinising the observations of others at every step. Even those we trust.

This process functions as a form of self defence, protecting us from the deceptions of others.

Unfortunately, it also insulates our own self deceptions; the things we tell ourselves are true not because they are, but because they’re less painful than what’s actually true.

Self deception is a viscous, malignant thing.

We must become aware of what we choose not to see.

Maybe your boss wasn’t being totally unreasonable when she called you out on your performance.

Maybe you’re not too tired to get the exercise you need.

Maybe you haven’t earned that break yet.

And maybe I ought to listen to the people closest to me more often.

If multiple people are shining a light on something which you can’t see, and it also makes you uncomfortable, you’re probably the one with the blind spot.

Ask yourself: Do these people have reason to deceive me?

If, like with my overwhelm, the people shining lights are those who love and care, how does tricking you benefit them?

It doesn’t.

Statistically speaking, they probably aren’t conspiring against you. If it feels like they are, perhaps you’re conspiring against yourself.

When the people who love you rally together to shine a light and you’re the only one who can’t see it, chances are you’re looking in the wrong direction.

Fail to turn around for long enough, and the lights might stop shining.

Try not to risk it.