My daughter was home from college for winter break and brought her boyfriend for his first visit to Pittsburgh. They are in art school together, and I had a painting I wanted to show him. It’s a painting I’ve had for 20 years or so and really love.
And I couldn’t remember where it was. We sat there at the dining table, the whole family, trying to figure out where that painting was hanging. We knew it was in the house. We all remembered where it used to be hanging and we remembered that I had moved it a couple of years ago.
But we couldn’t envision where it currently hung.
As we were clearing the table and taking dishes into the kitchen, we saw it. Literally. This beloved painting was hanging just outside the dining room on the way to the kitchen—in the main entry hall. We walk by it every day, multiple times a day and we had stopped seeing it.
It was funny, but it was also really startling. How could I simply stop seeing something that I loved—claimed to love—so much?
How could we all stop seeing something that we walked past every single day?
It’s normal, isn’t it? It happens to all of us. You go through your daily life on autopilot and just stop noticing things. Like the buildings on your way to work or school. Until one of them gets demolished. Then you notice that the building is gone, but you can’t actually remember what it looked like.
We notice change more than we notice the status quo. And even then we tend to notice change only when it directly affects us. We don’t notice that somebody moved the bottle opener until we reach for it in the drawer and discover it’s not there.
This “hidden in plain sight” painting experience got me wondering about what I wasn’t seeing in other areas of my life: in my relationships, in my health, in my business. It got me wondering how something could just disappear from my awareness like that. For upcoming events click here to see painters and decorators in london.
I started wondering what I could do to stay more aware—at least of the things that matter most to me.
I realized that things (and people) disappear from our awareness when we stop putting our attention on them. When my daughter was home from college, I realized how little I knew about what she is doing in college.
Since she’s out of state, I rarely see her. We both get caught up in our daily lives and don’t talk as often as we may like, and she’s not on Facebook (if you can believe that!). When she’s at school, we fade from each other’s awareness.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but we realized over her break how easy it is to let weeks go by without talking and that we had a lot of catching up to do.
In my business, I discovered that I was not seeing an untapped source of income. I was writing, blogging and doing some free introductory teleclasses and not seeing the opportunity to combine it all into paid teleclasses. I know, I know. Pretty obvious from the outside. (It took working with my coach to see it myself.)
I had just gotten so habituated to doing things a certain way that I wasn’t seeing other possibilities. I wasn’t seeing the goldmine because I was used to seeing all the dirt.
What was so frustrating to me was that I’m actually really good at seeing things from different perspectives. That’s what people hire me for. And yet here were areas where I wasn’t doing it for myself.
So now I’ve implemented some practices to help me see what’s hidden in plain sight and to prevent the things I really care about from disappearing in the first place.
- I get still and quiet:
Literally sitting down—without a computer, iPad or phone, without a book, magazine or agenda—helps me see things I was missing and remember things I had forgotten. I’ve been enjoying sitting quietly with a cup of tea in a different room every day. I drink my tea slowly and just look around the room. Yes, my mind starts going as I discover the hidden secrets of the room. But the point isn’t meditation. The point is discovery—re-discovery.
- I change my perspective:
Instead of changing my perspective just to solve a problem, I proactively change my perspective to prevent problems and to keep thing fresh.I ask myself questions such as, “How can I be a better mom today?” “What does my body need today?” “What could I try that I haven’t done before in my business?”
- I reassess my priorities:
Recognizing that it’s a normal function of the human brain to stop seeing what’s right in front of us, I ask myself “What’s important to me right now” as a way to put that thing (or person) back in focus for me.Are there things or people I forget? Of course. But this simple question has been more effective than my to-do list as getting me focused “on the right things.”
You may know the metaphor of putting golf balls in a jar, then adding pebbles, then adding sand, and finally adding beer (or other liquid) to fill the jar. The idea being that the golf bars are the big things in life: family, spirit, life purpose, friends. If you don’t put them in first, all the little things will take up space and you won’t have room for the big things that really matter. Following that metaphor, you could ask yourself every day, “What are my golf balls today?”
Steven Covey wrote about “putting first things first.” Put your golf balls in first. I accidentally typed “gold” balls, and I like that image better! Put your gold balls first.
About the Author, Kelly Eckert
Kelly Eckert is an author, professional speaker, and shamanic leadership coach. She is a graduate of Harvard College with a bachelor's degree in biological anthropology and Tufts Graduate School of Arts and Sciences with a master's degree in biology.
Kelly is a certified MentorCoach® and a certified coach member of the International Coach Federation. She is the creator of the Fear Releasing Method™ and Coaching with Animal Archetypes™. Kelly speaks nationally and internationally on the topics of fear and unleashing the animal within. Her latest book, What's Your Spirit Animal?, is now available. Find out more at kellyeckert.com.