"Do not believe everything you think. Thoughts are just that - thoughts, ”said Allan Lokos. But many times we assume that our thoughts are reality, that our values are the highest and our beliefs the absolute truth. It is our way of thinking, the only one possible. We believe - or like to believe - that our ideas are rational and those of others inconsistent. These immovable "certainties" usually come from our psychological blind spots, and do not add points in our favor. On the contrary, they take away.
What are psychological blind spots?
Like the blind spots on the road when we drive and look through the rearview mirror, we also have blind spots in our personality that are hidden, not only from others, but from ourselves as well.
It could be due to intense fear of recognizing them, to hidden desires that we do not want to accept because they go against our system of values or incipient ideas that contradict our seemingly perfect logic. In fact, often psychological blind spots are traits of our personality that we consider shameful or unacceptable and that we do not want to recognize.
In 2002, a group of social psychologists at Princeton University referred to the blind spot bias. It is our inability to recognize the impact of our biases and limitations on our judgments, behaviors and decisions. Although we have no problem recognizing them in others, which indicates that it is not a question of lack of knowledge, but rather of ignorance motivated to protect the image we have made of ourselves.
The problem with psychological blind spots is that we take these biases as reliable, thinking we are immune to them, so we deceive ourselves. Labeling others as biased while we believe we are objective and impartial is an illusion. Everything we deny about ourselves weakens us because it prevents us from growing, making us assume a more immature and maladjusted posture.
How to find out about our psychological blind spots?
We are usually not aware of our unconscious processes, so we cannot notice their influence on our decisions. Nor are we aware of all the factors that influence our behavior. For example, holding a hot cup makes us more collaborative, while wearing sunglasses makes us more likely to lie. Our behavior and decisions are constantly influenced by hundreds of stimuli, many of which escape the radar of our consciousness.
Psychological blind spots are those personal characteristics that we don't want to recognize. A good starting point for discovering them is to focus on our most intense reactions. A very intense emotional reaction, an unusually strong opinion expressed, may indicate that deep down there is an unacceptable or undesirable inner urge. In fact, we usually react intensely to the undesirable characteristics we see in others. It is what psychologists Hal and Sidra Stone called "repudiated me".
This theory was confirmed by a study developed at the University of Rhode Island and a second carried out at the University of Georgia. In both it was appreciated that the people who classified erotic images as unacceptable, because they carried enormous sexual guilt with them, were the very ones who experienced the most arousal in response to those images. In other words: what we most vehemently deny can hide a psychological blind spot.
Obviously, this trend is not limited to sexuality, but applies to any area of life. Rough judgments about the behavior of others usually reveal personal insecurity resulting from certain traits that we don't want to accept.
Psychological blind spots are not limited to negative reactions, but can also express themselves through extremely positive attitudes or behaviors, which suggest the lack of a desired trait. A study conducted at Case Western Reserve University, for example, found that people try to make an effort to appear unprejudiced and to show overly positive attitudes towards a stigmatized group when their "me", as a person without prejudice, is threatened.
Another sign that we don't recognize our psychological blind spots is to relate to different people in the same way. If you always complain that your partners or friends behave the same way, it is likely that you are choosing similar psychological profiles that lead you to replicate the relationship you want to get out of. Until you find out what psychological blind spots are that perpetuate those relationships, you won't be able to get out of that vicious circle.
If you think your lot will never change, this is also a sign that you need to bring out these blind spots. Ultimately, your life doesn't change because you are repeating some emotional and cognitive patterns that continually bring you back to square one. Therefore, instead of complaining about our "bad luck", we should ask ourselves how we are contributing to it.
3 questions to ask yourself to discover psychological blind spots
Many blind spots hide truths about us that we are not willing to accept easily. Therefore, to do this exercise it is advisable to first practice transcendental meditation or breathing exercises that help us reduce our psychological barriers. If we are relaxed and comfortable with ourselves, we can better tolerate certain truths coming to light. The questions you should ask yourself are:
1. What am I afraid to know?
2. What am I unable to accept?
3. How do I feel about myself?
You don't have to do anything with the answers that come to your mind. If there are answers that shake you up, it is good, because it indicates that you have discovered a psychological blind spot. You just need to get used to this new truth.
Neurologist Oliver Sacks related the case of a man blind from birth who was able to see when he reached middle age. Although his eyes captured visual information, his brain didn't know how to make sense of it. He couldn't tell the difference between a man and a gorilla, until he touched a nearby statue of a gorilla, then the difference was evident.
When you spot your psychological blind spots you are likely to experience a similar state of confusion, because you are not used to the new eyes through which it sees your "I". The first reaction is denial. We must overcome it by understanding that we all have lights and shadows and that the better we know each other, the closer we get to the person we want to be, the real person, not the deceptive image we have built.
Simply observing the truth about yourself without judging it will start to change you. You will see yourself in a clearer way, with all those contradictions that enrich you and make you human. It is a difficult journey, but it is worth it.