Have you ever watched a horse race? If you have, you may have noticed that each racehorse is fitted with “blinders.” These are protective of the horse–they prevent the horse from becoming distracted or being “spooked” into a crazed run that can harm them and the other horses and their riders. However, the blinders also prevent the horse from fully experiencing and learning from its surroundings. People can have “blinders” or “blindness” too. Even though we don’t wear physical blinders around our eyes, we have other blinders. These can be physical, emotional, intellectual or spiritual.
Physical blinders include limitations we place on ourselves because of our physical body. We might say “I wouldn’t have the strength for that,” or we might think: I’m too thin, too heavy, too short, too tall, etc., to do that. We can also limit ourselves with thoughts pertaining to our health conditions. Examples of this include: “I can’t take a trip because of my diabetes,” “I can’t exercise because of my fibromyalgia,” “I can’t walk regularly because of my old ankle injury,” etc.
Intellectual blinders are thought processes or belief systems that limit our insight or understanding. Examples include: “I’m not smart enough to do that,” “I don’t have enough education to do that,” “I don’t understand acupuncture so it won’t work for me,” “If it requires a prescription, it is bad.” Exposure to other cultures and belief systems can help us broaden our intellectual capacity to consider others’ ideas. We can then consider whether the others’ belief system has validity for us. An excellent example of this is Dr. Kumar’s discussion of open versus closed medical systems in her book, Becoming Real. If we remain entrenched in our thinking patterns, we will not be open to avenues of true healing. Spiritual blinders are tied to our religious or spiritual beliefs and practices. Examples include believing that our religion prevents us from using meditation for improving our health or that we must be in a certain facility, such as a church, to connect with our higher power. In actuality, however, all established religions have a form of meditation and access to our higher power is ever-available.
The most curious thing about blinders is that we are typically unaware we have them. We may see something so often that we lose the ability to truly see or we may be conditioned to ignore the cues and clues that are in front of us.
Here is a fun Internet link that points out very clearly how we can miss things, and yet be convinced that we have missed nothing. It pertains to a physical phenomenon of motion-induced blindness, which is similar to visual obsolescence [reference: http://www.msf-usa.org/motion.html].
Emotional blinders are rooted in prior experiences or events that are tied to strong emotions. They keep us stuck and prevent us from reaching our full potential. They include repressed, suppressed, unexpressed, or overexpressed emotions. An example of this is grief and anger that we do not acknowledge exist, that we have “stuffed down,” or that we choose not to discuss with anyone. Or, we may overexpress our emotions by lashing out at everyone and everything. Secrets in our life can fall into this category. Secrets include prior emotional or sexual abuses, addictions (drugs, gambling, pornography), or events that left us feeling a failure. Our secrets can make us very ill, because it takes an enormous amount of energy to keep our secrets hidden. The Betty Ford Center for Chemical Dependency has a saying: “You are only as sick as your secrets.” During my training at the Center we were taught to help people share their secrets so they could begin to heal from them. An important thing to remember is that everyone has “stuff” that they believe is too awful to share with anyone.
I and my trusted practitioners have a strong desire to help you discover and remove your blinders. In doing so, we know you will enjoy improved health.
© Trinity Integrative Family Medicine, Inc, glkocourek, August 2013, revised 09-May-2021