Identifying And Coping With Emotional Blindspots Can Make You Your Best Self

It's easy to hear that other people are the problem, not you. But as comforting and validating as it is to recognize the flaws in those around you, it may be time to take a hard look at your own habits. Analyzing and working on your own behaviors that aren't enhancing your life is one of the most powerful ways to take control of your wellbeing and happiness again. 

"Emotional blindspot" might sound like an empty buzzword used by an expensive life coach — it does pop up in a lot of self-help workshops, after all — but there's valuable truth behind it. When we don't pay attention to our emotional behavior, especially the traits that are less than pleasant, we end up repeating the same mistakes over and over again. By identifying and addressing your emotional blindspots, you will find a much clearer path to living your best life. Read on to find out exactly what emotional blindspots are, and how to deal with them. 

What are emotional blindspots?

Self-awareness is tough, and most people have negative behaviors or attitudes that they tend to brush under the subconscious rug. This coping mechanism is so common that there's a name for it: emotional blindspots.

Emotional blindspots are difficult emotions or behaviors that we don't consciously notice. Much like a physical blindspot, an emotional blindspot is a matter of perspective. Through your eyes, you aren't aware of a self-destructive habit, but the people in your life can be extremely aware of it. For example, a person might wonder why they can't form deep connections with people while also withdrawing when someone invites them to open up. Emotional blindspots can lead to horrible cycles of disappointment, with people trying to fix problems without seeing what causes them in the first place.

Keep in mind that emotional blindspots aren't just the result of cluelessness. Even someone with a high level of self-awareness probably has a few blindspots they need to address. As sociologist Martha Beck writes, "We only 'go blind' to information that is so troubling, so frightening, or so opposed to what we believe that to absorb it would shatter our view of ourselves and the world." In other words, our brains have carefully constructed blindspots to protect us from unpleasant things, and bursting that bubble can be pretty painful.

How to identify your emotional blindspots

Identifying emotional blindspots is more complicated than doing a basic mindfulness exercise. Mindfulness is an important skill, but when it comes to your emotional blindspots, it usually takes an outside perspective for you to recognize them.

To start looking for your emotional blindspots, try talking with your partner or a close friend. This should be someone that you're very intimate with, and whose opinion you trust. Ask them to describe any habits you have that they feel are harmful to yourself or others. Don't immediately reject their opinion if you don't like what you hear — if it doesn't make sense, ask them to say more and then reflect on it by yourself before deciding how accurate it is. You can also consult with a counselor or therapist to get a more objective opinion on your possible blindspots.

Aside from talking with others, you can keep a daily record of your joys and challenges. This can be a journal, but it can also be voice memos or quick notes to yourself. After a few weeks, you might see patterns in your behavior or mental state that you haven't noticed before. Still, if you are looking for blindspots on your own, it's a good idea to bring your findings to a friend or counselor so you can get an outside perspective before moving forward with correcting your emotional blindspots.

Removing your emotional blindspots

Clearing up your emotional blindspots takes work. After all, you were avoiding those emotions for a reason. But once you can engage with those tough feelings, you'll open yourself up to a lot more peace and happiness.

Once you identify your emotional blindspots, you need to reflect on why you've filed that feeling or situation into the "do not open" drawer of your brain. Was it something you picked up in your childhood? Is it an insecurity that you're afraid to acknowledge? If it's a minor blindspot, you may be able to figure it out on your own, but bigger issues usually require advice from someone else. Your loved ones are a wonderful source of support, but if you're struggling with the far corners of your psyche, it might be time to reach out to a counselor or therapist.

Removing your emotional blindspots can also require reassessing your values. We often take our values for granted, but every person has unique beliefs and priorities about how we should live our lives. As life coach Jim Rees shares with Glamour, "... taking stock of our values versus someone else is a really useful way of identifying blindspots."

When you have a shift in values, you can develop a new, healthier relationship with emotions that are painful or undesirable.

Emotional blindspots are scary

When we were little kids, we had monsters under the bed or in our closets. As adults, we keep our monsters safely hidden in our mental landscape. Confronting our emotional blindspots can be really scary, which is why we try to avoid it when working on self-improvement. Unlike other forms of self-care — who doesn't love a mental health spa day? — dealing with your emotional blindspots rarely feels good.

Identifying emotional blindspots calls attention to some of your biggest fears and insecurities, and that can be immensely upsetting. Dealing with your blindspots can also bring up a lot of shame as you realize the damaging effects of some of your habits. Rather than letting all those yucky feelings of fear and shame prevent you from confronting your emotional blindspots, try to embrace it as an opportunity to practice self-compassion. Having a higher level of self-compassion will help decrease your anxiety and depression and make you more hopeful for future changes (via Attuned Psychology).

As frightening as those emotional blindspots are, identifying them and learning how to get past them will help you get to a much better place of self-acceptance and positive engagement with others.