Do you find yourself ghosting all of your friends when you’re going through a rough time?
Or maybe you find it impossible to apologise when you know you’re in the wrong.
Defence mechanisms like these, that we develop over time, can become habitual, driving a wedge between ourselves and others.
We don’t realise it at the time, but our subconscious is leading us to act in a certain way to avoid feeling a certain way – like vulnerable or guilty.
This is what is known as an emotional blind spot.
‘Put simply, they are emotions that we haven’t completely felt before, because we are afraid of where this may take us,’ says life coach and author of Vicious Cycle, Jim Rees.
‘Our minds work as a protector and allow us to avoid these feelings, so our behaviours become normalised – we do not always know we are acting in a certain way, but to others, it can be obvious.’
Becoming avoidant instead of apologising when you know you’re in the wrong, for example, can be obvious to a friend or partner, but you may not even realise you’re doing it – which is when it becomes a blind spot.
This can stop us from fully processing our emotions, says Rees; ‘which is vital in learning how to deal with, and detach from them healthily.’
‘This obliviousness is due to our cognitive biases,’ he continues. ‘As we know, our brains are prone to decision making due to being constantly filled with huge amounts of information.
‘If someone suffers with a blind spot, their brain will use decision making shortcuts based on emotions and memories, rather than taking the time to make a rational decision.’
This cognitive dissonance can impact our personal lives, work lives as well as our loved ones’ lives.
‘Unravelling a blind spot is extremely important as it can often feel like a revelation,’ says Rees. ‘Once it becomes apparent and they can see how they are suffering, they automatically want to fix it.’
So, how can we start to acknowledge our blind spots?
How to recognise your emotional blind spots:
Ask your close friends/family to describe you
There are a number of ways we can start to acknowledge and address our emotional blindspots.
One, is by listening to how your friends and family describe you.
‘Many people will fear this, and will believe any type of feedback on themselves is negative,’ says Rees. ‘But actually, this is one of the best ways to acknowledge a blind spot.’
Keep a journal
‘Keeping a journal is another amazing way of noticing a blind spot instantly,’ says Rees.
He recommends using the “win, learn, change” approach to journaling, to keep track of everything you have done that day.
‘Over a period of time of writing in this way, you will be able to acknowledge improvements, spot behaviours, and notice if there is an apparent blind spot due to not helping yourself,’ he says.
‘For “win”; write down what’s worked well today, what are my wins?
‘For “learn”; what did I learn in the process, did I need to seek more clarity?
‘For “change”; what will I change for next time, what could I have changed?’
Analyse your own values compared to others
‘Another way of noticing a blind spot is by looking at your values versus someone else’s,’ says Rees.
You can do this in your relationships, friendships or even in the workplace.
If you find you have opposing values to someone, it could mean that these are your blind spots.
Therefore, empathising with other people’s values can help you to see your own blind spots.
Seek professional help
There are many professional avenues you can take to begin to recognise your own blind spots.
One is via Rees’ book, Vicious Cycle, which contains a values exercise.
‘This offers a thought-provoking examination of our patterns of behaviour and how these recurring habits can shape our entire lives,’ Rees says.
‘You can also seek help from a therapist or life coach, or take an emotional intelligence questionnaire, which will help you to see 16 different scales that measure emotional intelligence.’
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