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What Do Your Spotters Say?

I’ve got blind spots. We all do. And one of my consistent blind spots is being aware of when I’m doing too much. It’s often not until I awaken in the middle of the night with a list of ‘to’-do’s in my head that I realize I might need to slow down. By the time that happens, chances are I’ve missed at least a few opportunities for joy, relaxation, and being fully present.

But what can we do to notice when we are heads down and busy DOING? Sometimes we have to turn to others in our lives who have a better vantage point than we do. These are our spotters. Now, if you aren’t a weightlifter or a gymnast (and I’m not), you may not know what a spotter is. And looking in the online Free Dictionary will not immediately help. When I did a search there, the first definition of spotter was “one that applies spots.” That’s not the kind of spotter I mean.

The subsequent definitions were more helpful: “one that looks for, locates, and reports something,” and “one who is responsible for watching and guarding a performer during practice to prevent injury.” When we choose to invite trusted people in our lives to be this kind of spotter for us, we access a source of awareness and wisdom that can keep us healthy and grounded. Two essential elements:

• invite your spotters so they feel welcome, and

• listen to them when they report what they are observing that might be costing you your health, well-being, or your relationships.

Having spotters has been important to me throughout my life, and maybe especially these past couple of years as our world became even more uncertain. Some of my spotters ask “what are you doing to keep your work day from becoming a work evening and night?” and “are you checking the web site regularly for vaccine appointments?” They also say things like “is that something you really need to do?”, “who could help you with that?”, and “weren’t you going to schedule a few days off?” My spotters, in case you haven’t noticed, seem particularly attentive to my tendency to work too much. But I also appreciate when they notice and point out that I’ve inadvertently left someone out, or failed to highlight another’s contribution. When I get that spotting awareness, I get to choose how to make it right. Your spotter might be vigilant for entirely different things. Every spotting gig is unique to the person, and spotting is always about giving the spottee (is that a word?) awareness and choice. Otherwise it could be seen as nagging or nosiness.

And all that may make you wonder, “well, if I need spotters, shouldn’t others have them too?” Yes, we all need spotters, and it’s a position of both honor and responsibility. We don’t always get invited to play this role, and it’s not always met with an appreciative “thank you” when we do (possibly more like a “back off, Mom”). And yet, being a spotter to those we care about can help them to see choice points in their lives and course-correct in the moment. Even if you aren’t specifically invited, being someone’s spotter is an offer you can make. What’s surprising to me is how often the offer is gratefully accepted. And how much it can deepen our connections with others when we willingly spot for them.

Sometimes the best approach to heading off stress and trauma is to have a spotter, focus on what’s within your power to do, and stop worrying about what you don’t control. There are lots of energy drains that we can and should close, many opportunities we may be missing if our heads are down. Your Spotter says so. ❤️


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