No person is immune to the difficulties of life. Everyone at one time or another suffers deep loss, feelings of disillusionment, meaninglessness, and painful choices that can bring you to your knees. There is good news, however. We can find meaning in these events, leading us not only to overall health and well-being, but to change, transformation, and what psychologist Abraham Maslow called self-actualization.
We ALL have an inherent built-in propensity towards self-actualization; becoming our best selves and living a creative, independent, and spontaneous life that leads us to healthy fulfilling relationships, personal authenticity, and our dreams. But sometimes, we get stuck–landlocked–with no navigable route to sea.
But there is hope. When we are able to locate our blind spots that keep us stuck–when we identify and remove obstacles that are keeping us from living fully–we not only heal from past pain and trauma, we overcome self-sabotaging patterns, and we grow and mature, just as an acorn develops into an oak tree.
Blind spots are certain personality traits that are hidden from our view. Maybe you have a tendency to avoid conflict or rationalize controversial behaviors to make them more consciously tolerable. Maybe you use sarcasm to deal with hurt, or you overact to particular behaviors or comments by your coworkers. Maybe you try to control certain situations or withdraw when you are not in control. Maybe you are in denial that any of these blind spots even exist.
These psychological defense mechanisms—mostly unknown to us—are acquired over the years as children and protect us from some of the unpleasant feelings we experienced growing up. They also get in the way of current relationships with others, our personal growth, and our health and well-being.
But don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t recognize these blind spots. That is why they are called blind spots. As Steven Stosny, PhD., writes in Psychology Today, “Our brains are simply not wired for accurate self-evaluation [especially] during emotional arousal, which keeps us hyper-focused on possible threats in the environment.” Instead, we are wired to survive.
Being hyper-focused can save us from harm, but it can also keep us from ourselves.
There is good news! There are things you can do to help recognize your blind spots that keep you from being the person you want to be and living the life you want to live. Here are a few of them:
- Notice your strong reaction to comments, behaviors, and certain situations. Our reaction such as getting defensive after a colleague offers constructive criticism, for example, is a good indicator that a blind spot exists.
- Start to recognize patterns in your life. When you begin to recognize certain patterns that have been cycling over and over again throughout your life, you not only gain clarity, you can begin to change your behavior.
- Avoid confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek certain information that confirms already existing beliefs which keeps us stuck in our blind spots. Step out of your box and make sure you have an accurate picture of things when dealing with others or making important decisions.
- Ask people that you trust to give you honest constructive feedback about your strengths and weaknesses. The funny thing about blind spots is that they are not always blind to other people. They are only blind to ourselves.
- See a therapist or take advantage of your compay's EAP. A well-trained therapist can help you identify certain blind spots as well as work through the emotions that these blind spots are attempting to protect in the first place.
Remember, blind spots are a defense mechanism that protected us from certain unpleasant feelings and emotions as children. But as we grow and mature, these blind spots act as obstacles from growth and transformation. As you work on uncovering certain hidden aspects of your personality, remember emotions that make you feel uncomfortable may arise. Be patient and kind to yourself. Delving into uncovering your blind spots can be a complex and sensitive process, but the outcome means a stronger and healthier you.