How to find your blind spots in life and turn them into strengths

This section describes how you might be perceived when the shadow side of your talent is showing. Carl Jung is the psychologist famous for introducing the idea of “shadow sides” or “dark sides” to your natural patterns, yet many people never identify them because there are few how-to guides. In corporate life, we often call them blind spots. It’s stuff that others can see in you, yet you are not aware of the impact on others – which can negatively impact how you’re perceived at work.

Your shadow sides often show up when you’re overusing, misapplying, or squashing down one of your natural talents rather than investing in it to turn it into a strength. That’s right – sometimes your dark side is not your weakness zone. We actually call these blind spot strengths.

You may have had feedback in your career about these blind spots, and you left thinking that they’re things you’re bad at. We often see people starve, squash, or ignore their talents when they assume that way of thinking or acting is not valued on their team. Imagine: if you could take these strong patterns in you and refine them, you could turn them into one of your greatest strengths.

Check out this list and pick 1-2 that may represent you when you’re at your worst. Think of those moments when your patience is low, you’re feeling grumpy, or you’re triggered by something that drives you crazy. That’s when the shadow side of your talents is most likely to show up. If you’ve done StrengthsFinder with your team, you can skip to the bottom to see a list of possible blind spots for each of the 34 talent themes.

How to find your blind spots in life and turn them into strengths

By: Vicki Haverson

We all know that forgetting to check our mirrors and ignoring our Blind Spots when changing lanes on the motorway is dangerous. What is equally dangerous is ignoring our individual Blind Spots which can lead to destructive behaviour and the potential breakdown of relationships.

Every single one of us has Blind Spots. This is when our mind can’t take in information and, like a Blind Spot in your car review mirror, you can’t see it.

A Blind Spot can be defined as an ‘area where you lack awareness of your weaknesses.’ If you consider this from the perspective of your strengths, when we are in our Blind Spot we feel frustrated and confused. It can feel draining and frustrating – rather like the person in front of us is talking a foreign language that we can’t understand. We can’t see their perspective or meet our own needs, which is when our strengths can show up as weaknesses to those around us as we overuse them to compensate.

If you consider for a moment that there are 34 strengths in the ​Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment, and that we typically play to 8 to 10 of our strengths most of the time, it means we are completely blind to around 40 to 50% of the perspectives of other people around us who don’t share the same strengths as us. On the basis it would take 170 years to get good at all 34 strengths, every single one of us has Blind Spots. More importantly, because we all have Blind Spots, we all need to work with other people to gain a 360-degree view of a problem or situation.

A study by Korn Ferry Institute highlighted that in the workplace, our Blind Spots, which are also referred to as weaknesses, can become hugely problematic when they are ignored or tolerated. Leaders who ignore their Blind Spots can fail to inspire or build talent and instead under-leverage their team’s ability and undermine other’s contributions. They spend the majority of their time working independently or with other like minded people, ignoring the perspectives of others who are in their Blind Spot.

Imagine for a moment a Leader with the Clifton StrengthsFinder talents of Activator, Significance, Command and Communication, all influencing strengths. These strengths are more than comfortable in taking the leading and being centre of attention and bring a huge energy and momentum to projects. They also like to win, have lots of passion and are driven to be their best.

This particular Leader needs recognition and to know they have been seen and heard. They also need autonomy and without it have a tendency to go off on their own if they don’t feel fully utilized. When they don’t feel understood they can become more forceful and tell people what to do which to others might be discouraging, confusing and frustrating.

So how do you become Blind Spot aware? The first step is to understand what your strengths are and recognize your areas of non-strength – your Blind Spots. Learning about your Blind Spots helps you make intentional choices to be productive and flexible in new ways – to listen to others and understand their perspective by being curious about their assessment of an issue or situation.

Going back to our Leader, imagine for a moment they are managing someone with the strengths of Empathy, Relator, Individualization and Connectedness which are all Relationship Building strengths. People with relationship building strengths have the ability to see people for who they really are. They are also good at understanding how people feel and what they need and tune easily into the emotions of others of the situation. Often they are warm, smiley, genuine and caring. For Leaders with strong influencing strengths relationship builders can often come across as lacking in confidence and less effective in moving forward with the momentum they are looking for, particularly if their strengths sit in their Blind Spot. But what if the Leader understood what these strengths bring to the team and instead enrolled them to help pick up on the energy and emotion of others and provide meaningful acknowledgement and encouragement? Working together they would be able to achieve outstanding results.

Increased self awareness of our Blind Spots leads to higher performance and fulfilment, putting us in a better position to make decisions. If we refuse to see or acknowledge our Blind Spots there is a high price to pay, both personally and professionally.

This article previously appeared on ​LinkedIn.

Vicki Haverson is the Director of Strengths-Based Development at Sparks International Training. She’s passionate about helping change the landscape of the work place through understanding, developing and applying individual and team strengths.

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I checked my rearview mirror twice, and both side mirrors. Everything looked clear. I edged over to the next lane and was startled by the blaring horn from the car I was cutting off. Instantly I swerved back as the other car roared past, the driver giving me a bitter glare.

Even though I had been intentional about safety, I simply hadn’t seen the other car. It was in my blind spot — that area tucked in between the perspective of all my mirrors. Of course, if I had known the car was there, I would have stayed in my lane. But I didn’t know.

Acknowledge that we all have personal blind spots

Similarly, we all have blind spots — aspects of our personalities that we don’t know exist. They affect our performance, our success and our relationships. Because we’re unaware, we can’t do anything about them. Blind spots become the source of habits and patterns that leave us stuck. We can’t move forward or mature because something unknown is holding us back.

If you want to have a good marriage, you try to improve in every area possible. But if you don’t see your blind spots, they can hold you back from building a great relationship. After all, how can you fix something you don’t know about? However, if you see it, you can do something about it.

There are two ways to discover your blind spots:

  1. Wait until somebody honks at you.
  2. Look for blind spots intentionally.

The first option is more common. It’s also less effective. “Honking” often happens when your spouse has become frustrated and lets you know something you don’t see.

The second option of deliberately adjusting your personality mirrors is powerful, because it’s the foundation for personal relationship growth and change.

Seek the truth about your personal blind spots

So how do you figure out areas in which you need to grow if you can’t see them? Proverbs expresses the conundrum this way: “But who can know their own mistakes?” (Psalm 19:12, NIRV). The only way you’ll find your blind spots is if someone tells you about them.

Seeking feedback from your spouse might sound simple, but it can feel risky — for both of you:

  • You might be hesitant to ask because you don’t want to hear anything negative.
  • Your spouse might be afraid of hurting your feelings (if the feedback is negative), so he or she doesn’t share any observations.
  • When he or she has tried in the past, you’ve become defensive or made excuses.
  • It doesn’t feel safe if trust is low.
  • You haven’t taken action on things he or she has shared before.

These risks are especially present in marriage because the stakes are higher. If feedback isn’t well-received, the sharing spouse has to live with the discord that results. Sometimes it’s easier to just keep quiet.

The only way to get honest feedback is if you make it safe for your spouse to share. Here are some ideas to build an environment where honest dialogue can happen:

Recognize your personal weakness

It’s tough to recognize personal flaws. When you don’t see or admit to having them, you increase your chances of messing up. Accurately assessing your strengths and weaknesses is the best preventative for cutting into someone else’s relationship lane.

Trying to improve your relationship without examination (especially on your part) becomes a barrier to personal growth. It’s like a doctor writing a prescription without first doing a thorough exam.

Be intentional about seeking feedback

If you’re casual about asking for input, you’ll probably get a casual response. To get a well-thought-out response, plan your approach:

Pick a good time to ask your spouse about your personal blind spots

Don’t drop it into a heated discussion and don’t choose a time when either of you is distracted, hungry or tired.

Give your spouse advance notice of your intent

Say something like, “I’ve been thinking about something I’m doing where I feel stuck. Could we find some time to talk in the next couple of days?” If your spouse asks what it is, it’s OK to share the topic — but save the actual discussion for later: “Here’s what I’m thinking, but I want you to think about it for a while before we talk. I’ll do the same, so we can get together with our ideas. When would be a good time to connect?”

Be specific and singular

Don’t say, “So, am I doing OK?” Instead say, “When we get together with friends, I feel like people don’t listen to me. I want to know if there’s something I’m doing that I’m not aware of that might be shutting people down. I’d love to hear your perspective — can you think about that?” Make it a single issue, not an overall critique.

Listen without defensiveness

Don’t make excuses or give reasons for your actions, or your spouse won’t share anything else. Listen carefully without interrupting, explaining or minimizing his or her words. Turn off the television and leave your phone in another room as a signal that you’re completely focused. Only ask questions to clarify what your spouse has said, since your goal is to understand. Maintain good eye contact. You might even take notes: “What you’re saying is really important to me, so I want to capture it so I can think more about it later.” You don’t have to agree with everything your spouse says, but this isn’t the time to disagree. It’s a time to understand.

Schedule your response

This conversation will be a lot stronger if you can listen without sharing your immediate responses. Thank your spouse for what he or she has shared and agree to come back together after you’ve had a chance to process. “This is so interesting, because you’re telling me things I hadn’t recognized. Let me sit on this for a couple of days to think through it and I’ll share my thoughts then, OK?” If you can do that, you’ve set the stage for future input because you’ve made it safe — and shown that you value your spouse’s perspective on your personal blind spots.

Take action

After you’ve explored your personal blind spot, decide on one simple step you could take to change. If you take action, your spouse will keep sharing.

Adjust your personal “mirrors” to improve your marriage

Scripture says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6). Your spouse can be a mirror, showing you something you don’t know. It’s not his or her job to fix you — it’s yours. Your spouse’s job is simply to reflect as accurately as possible what he or she sees.

Explore this process with your spouse; then try it out. You’ll create a place of safety for growing together and make it something you look forward to. No one else knows you the way your spouse does, so communicating with each other to discover personal blind spots and work on them can change your relationship.

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How to find your blind spots in life and turn them into strengths

When we talk of `blind spots’, we always think of driving with an area of the road not visible through the rear-view or side-view mirrors. But there is another kind of `blind spot’ that all humans have in each eye. These blind spots are natural, and we are not even aware of them because the brain fills in the gaps in our vision, based on whatever information it has about what our eyes are looking at.

If you’re interested in the science behind this phenomenon, it is this:

Light enters the eye by passing through the pupil and hitting the retina at the back. The retina is encased in light-sensing proteins, which transmit what they sense to the optic nerve. The optic nerve, in turn, relays that message to the brain. The blind spots occur because the optic nerve ends in the field of the retina itself. Whatever shortfall there is about visual information, the brain fills in by looking at the surrounding picture, and as a result, we are never conscious of the existence of blind spots as we go about our day-to-day lives.

But they’re there alright, and you can test your own blind spot by looking at the images below:

  • Look at the image above with the plus sign and the circle.
  • Look straight at the image, with your nose positioned somewhere between the plus and the circle.
  • Close your left eye, and focus your eyes on the plus sign with your right eye. Do not look deliberately at the circle.
  • Now move closer to the image, slowly. Don’t take your focus off the plus sign while you are doing this.
  • At some point between 10”-14”, the circle will disappear from your peripheral vision. And the brain will read the surrounding white color to fill up the empty space.
  • This exact spot is your blind spot.

Now let’s try the same exercise with the new image above.

  • Position your head to look straight at the image.
  • Cover your left eye, and look at the plus in the middle of the green background with your right eye.
  • Move closer to the screen as before. When you hit your blind spot, the circle will disappear and the brain will fill the gap with the surrounding yellow color.

The brain’s habit of using surrounding visual information to make up for a missing piece in the picture is even more apparent with this third image.

  • Cover the left eye and look at the plus sign with your right eye.
  • When you the hit the blind spot, the yellow circle will disappear and the brain will fill the gap with another red circle – information it picked up by assessing all the red circles that make up the surrounding area.

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How to find your blind spots in life and turn them into strengths

We all have blind spots. No one would question the existence of them when driving. Yet people are often oblivious or in denial about their blind spots in relationships, conversations, even projects and tasks.

Blind spots are how you are deceiving yourself. You may say you want one thing, but in the moment, your actions do not reflect this wish. Like my client who said she doesn’t have enough time to “get it all done”…but spends an hour in the morning and more than an hour at night on social media and watching the news. Or the client who wants to lose weight…but never makes time for movement or eating healthy. I’m the first person to say adults are free to live their lives in any way they want as long as it doesn’t harm others but make it a deliberate choice.

Avoid the emotional dissonance that comes up when you say you want one thing, but your actions don’t reflect it. That can lead to frustration, anger, disappointment, resignation. Maybe you can relate to one or more of those emotions. One reason for this dissonance is your blind spots. It’s like a part of your brain doesn’t want anything to change, so it hides these sabotaging behaviors, habits, beliefs, and ways of being from your awareness.

What’s scary is that generally everyone around you knows your blind spots – everyone that is, except you!

So the question is, how do you find your blind spots?

1. Ask Those Around You:

One of the most direct routes to finding your blind spots is to ask people what they are. Yes you will feel vulnerable, and yes that conversation will take courage. What’s ironic is that people will probably respect you more for inquiring, but in the words of Brené Brown, “People hate to feel vulnerable themselves, but they easily connect with others who show vulnerability..”

Not many people take a leap of faith and ask others in their world, “I want XYZ but am failing. What is my blind spot about this?” For example, “I want to be more patient, but am still angry all the time. What am I missing?” Know that your initial reaction to the input may be denial or defensiveness. That’s normal, but don’t act on it. Instead respond “Thank you for sharing that with me.

2. Take an Assessment

There are a number of online assessment tools you can capitalize on. At Ama La Vida we use many internal questionnaires to help clients take a macro look at all the areas of their life. We’ve recently added a leadership assessment to the list of tools. Even if you aren’t a leader it’s a great way to take stock in how you approach things and to pinpoint what some potential blind spots may be. It takes about 15 minutes to complete and produces one of two leadership styles. You’ll receive an email with your results upon completion that outlines your style, strengths and blind spots. This is a great tool to identify what you may need to draw attention to that perhaps you weren’t aware of.

How to find your blind spots in life and turn them into strengths

3. Focus on Your Strengths

This may seem counterintuitive but thinking about your strengths is often the quickest way to to identify your blind spots.

Let us give you a couple of examples:

  • Strength: Highly Strategic
  • Blind spot might be: unable to execute, avoids details, doesn’t see the impact at the lower level.
  • Strength: Love developing others
  • Blind spot might be: too focused on people and not on tasks, doesn’t develop self well.
  • Strength: Highly empathetic
  • Blind spot might be: easily drained in conversation, not direct with others, concerned about what others think of me.

These are just a few possible examples, but you can see how knowing what you are good at might give you an indication of what your blind spots may be.

4. Work with a Coach

A skilled coach can be helpful to highlight blind spots and patterns when you know something is getting in the way of reaching your goals, but you cannot quite put your finger on it.

A coach will ask deep questions that will help you to take a macro view of your life. What is so dear to you that you are not including in your life? What goal do you have that is getting no love? What are you not facing in your life that needs attention? What do you value that gets no energy? What is your purpose and are you living it out? Your answers will be pointers to your blind spots. Schedule a complimentary consult to work with a coach to find your blind spots!

Examples of Blind Spots:

Here are common blind spots we hear from clients: problems making decisions, talking too much, not listening enough, controlling others, rigidity, overly task (vs. relationship) oriented, working excessively to avoid difficult conversations at home, resistance to change, overcommitting, impatience, tendency to be melodramatic, and many more.

Once you identify your blind spots, name it to tame it. Naming the blind spot is critical. It’s through awareness that intentional change happens. Once you’ve named your blind spots you can work on taking the steps necessary to overcome them.

No matter how hard we try to be self-aware, everyone—including the best leaders—has unproductive behaviors that are invisible to us but glaring to everyone else.

Our behavioral blind spots create unintended consequences: They distort judgment, corrupt decision-making, reduce our awareness, create enemies and silos, destroy careers and sabotage business results.

A blind spot is a performance-hindering mindset or behavior of which you’re unaware or have chosen to overlook. A recent Business Week article cites some important research:

  • A Hay Group study shows that an organization’s senior leaders are more likely to overrate themselves and develop blind spots that can hinder their effectiveness.
  • A study by Development Dimensions International, Inc., found that 89 percent of front-line leaders have at least one skills-related blind spot.

The Hay research suggests that, as executives rise within an organization, the less likely they are to see themselves as others perceive them. They often lose touch with those they lead—not surprising, given their increased isolation and the executive suite’s “rarified” atmosphere. As they reach the pinnacle of their profession, they have fewer peers and greater power. Honest feedback and open dialogue often become rare commodities. This poses a serious problem, as researchers have found a direct correlation between high performance and inaccurate self-awareness.

We can group the most common blind spots into five key categories:

  1. Experience
  2. Personality
  3. Values
  4. Strategy
  5. Conflict

“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”

Microsoft Founder Bill Gates, The Road Ahead

The Experience Blind Spot

We rarely examine or analyze what led to a successful outcome, including luck’s role in the process. We automatically assume we were right on the money. And when we encounter a new situation, we spontaneously draw on our memories of success, without questioning whether prior strategies fit current circumstances.

Thus, a long history of accolades and achievements can potentially produce troublesome blind spots. There is danger in assuming that past results will guarantee future successes.

The Personality Blind Spot

Each personality type has strengths and weaknesses. But when carried to the extreme or inflamed by stressful situations, even our core strengths can become career-damaging weaknesses.

For example, if you’re naturally optimistic, your thinking is biased toward the positive. This is usually good if you’re charged with inspiring others. But there are times when optimism backfires and leaves you blindsided by negative realities—something you miss until it’s too late.

Personality blind spots are often hard to discover because we value our strengths so highly. We often fail to see the downside of what works so well for us. But with increased awareness, you can train yourself to detect emerging blind spots. Ask yourself:

  • Am I playing to the downside of my strengths?
  • How will I know when my strengths blind me to my inherent weaknesses?
  • Who can be a sounding board as I work toward increasing self-awareness?

Blind spots restrict our options. Soliciting diverse perspectives helps expand our awareness.

The Values Blind Spot

When your attitude and emotions are out of sync with your values, you become uncomfortable and unbalanced. What we say and do is incongruent with what we believe and who we are.

Values blind spots can occur on a personal or group level. They are particularly insidious when you’re somewhat aware of them, but fail to take appropriate corrective action.

In business situations, a values blind spot can affect large groups. Can you think of a time when an implicit incentive to maintain the status quo conflicted with a change initiative? That’s a typical values blind spot in action.

Strategy Blind Spots

Organizations often reward conformity and punish critical or questioning voices.

When a collective worldview becomes self-reinforcing around a set of practices, assumptions or beliefs, there is potential for groupthink. Creativity and agility suffer because conformance is valued above change, and risk is discouraged.

Strategy blind spots can occur in any organizational area. Unfortunately, they’re often spotted in hindsight, after an important opportunity is missed.

Leaders who prize openness and transparency have the best chance of spotting strategy blind spots. They encourage input at all levels, fostering a culture of trust where ideas are honestly debated.

The Conflict Blind Spot

Conflict can be healthy in relationships and organizations where trust has been established. Diverse perspectives challenge tunnel vision and the status quo, while promoting learning and innovation. When issues are constructively debated, new solutions emerge.

But it’s human nature to want to defend and win an argument. Conflict becomes destructive when positive energy turns negative and erodes trust. Empathy and insight are tossed aside when we filter incoming information through the lens of what we believe and want. We categorize others as the enemy, who must be wrong.

Instead of debate, conflict becomes a power struggle that prevents you from seeing any solution (other than winning your point).

You must reactivate your higher intelligence to find your way out of a conflict blind spot. Slow the discussion; perhaps even take a break. Breathe deeply and re-center yourself. When you return to discussions, acknowledge common ground instead of focusing on gaps.

“Only in acknowledging our own flaws and vulnerabilities can we become authentic leaders who empower people to perform to the best of their abilities.”

Overcoming Blind Spots

A blind spot’s effects may not show up right away. Without paying careful attention, you may miss the warning signs. It’s therefore critical for you to proactively work toward discovering them, before you feel the effects.

Consider working with a professional coach. Also take a look at past or current struggles to determine whether blind spots have hindered your performance. What can you learn from your mistakes? What would you do differently in the future? Reframe situations from others’ perspectives.

When you have a vague awareness of a blind spot, fight against the normal psychological inclination to remain anchored in safe, established patterns.

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Are You Stuck? Find Your Blind Spots

Are you self-aware? Can you speak about your strengths and weaknesses with ease? I know the danger of this position firsthand; self-knowledge seems useful initially but ends up creating a surplus of certainty. Certainty is the cement in which we get stuck. Our known weaknesses don’t take us down, it’s our blind spots. If you don’t believe that you have any, then you have just located your first one.

I learned about blind spots at The Landmark Forum a few years ago. The Forum leader drew a Venn diagram on a whiteboard in front of the room. Inside the first circle on the left, he wrote: What I Know I Know. He then told us to write down an example of something we know we know so I wrote addiction and nutrition. In the circle at the end, he wrote: What I Know I Don’t Know. Most of us borrowed his example, to fly a plane, to complete the exercise. He finished the diagram by writing What I Don’t Know I Don’t Know aka Blind Spots in the middle circle.

The forum leader told us that the majority of what stopped us in life was housed here. A blind spot is a hidden area that you can’t see about yourself which can cause minor and severe accidents as you change lanes in life. Although blind spots are unconscious, we often go to great lengths to keep them concealed.

The irony of blind spots is that they are glaring to many of your friends and colleagues, like a strand of spinach wedged in between your two front teeth. Uncovering blind spots is the secret to becoming unstuck in any area. The inspiration that becomes available in the breakthrough moment when you come face to face with a blind spot is electric. It provides energy to take massive action and action will always move you forward.

A powerful way to uncover blind spots is to interview your friends and family. I did this exercise in my 3rd Landmark course, Self-Expression and Leadership Program, four years ago. The feedback was invaluable. I chose three conscious friends and asked how I occurred to them. Trusting they would speak out of love, I listened carefully, not liking everything I heard. One friend said that many people saw me as a combination of “aloof, hard to get close to, intense and confrontational.” Another friend asked me who else I planned to interview “nobody’s going to tell you the truth.” When I asked her why they wouldn’t, she responded, “because you scare people.” Ouch.

These conversations changed me. The disconnect between who I wanted to be and how I occurred to people was face up on the table now. My deepest desire was to connect with people in a meaningful way, but my delivery and mannerisms were sabotaging this possibility. When I couldn’t find an access point with someone or felt awkward in a situation, I became aloof, the cool girl act from my teen years. Of course, not everyone is available to connect deeply, so I also had to address why I kept going to the hardware store for oranges, which has always been one of my favorite Al-Anon sayings.

Here are three tips on how to locate blind spots:

  1. When you complain about being powerless in a re-occurring situation. Being a victim. “She makes me feel X all the time.”
  2. When you make excuses about people or situations that keep you from looking at your part. “He acts the way he does because he had a rough childhood.”
  3. When you believe that an external event is causing a problem instead of taking a closer look at your behavior. “Everyone was gossiping at the dinner.”

I had an old boss who constantly complained about everyone being an asshole: the garage attendant, the barista, and most of our clients. He believed wholeheartedly in his interpretation, and the stories he would relay were convincing. I fall into this rut too and the words of a wise friend always pull me out, “You see one or two assholes in a day, maybe it’s them. If you see more than three, consider that you are the asshole.”

It takes guts to locate a blind spot, but the breakthrough awaiting is worth the initial discomfort.

Why we repeat our key mistakes

Posted Apr 30, 2018

We all fail thousands of times in small and large ways. However, we don’t make thousands of different mistakes–we make a handful of similar errors and we repeat them in endless variety. This happens because we all have our individual blind spots and thinking errors and it is those that usually trip us up in life.

But if we only have a few characteristic errors why don’t we correct them?

Most of us would like to correct our mistakes as we are not purposefully sabotaging our goals. However, in order to correct a mistake we first have to see it as such and recognize the element that went awry. The problem is we do not see the real mistake because we have competing ideas about what the ‘problem’ was that direct our attention away from our characteristic errors and toward other culprits such as ‘luck’, ‘timing’, and other external causes, or we focus on justifications and explanations that do not promote further inquiry such as “I guess it just wasn’t meant to be” or “I’ll just have to try harder next time” (when we should try going about things differently). This is the definition of a ‘blind spot’.

Many of us are unaware that we have these kinds of blind spots. Even when we do recognize their theoretical existence, the reason we struggle to correct them, despite the grief they cause us, is that we are indeed blind to them. These kinds of errors in thinking and self-sabotaging behaviors simply do not register as such in our minds when we perform them.

Another reason we have a hard time identifying cognitive errors is that doing so requires us to dive into our failures and disappointments and examine them like a detective searching for a key clue at a crime scene–which given we are both the perpetrator and the victim, makes for an emotionally unpleasant task for sure. That said, as unappealing as it is to spend time and effort analyzing painful, embarrassing, and disappointing experiences, if we could figure out what was making us stuck or how we contributed to a negative outcome, we can then figure out how to avoid that kind of key error going forward. By doing so we can correct not just one negative outcome but many.

How to find your blind spots in life and turn them into strengths

Now, a new book by popular PT blogger Dr. Alice Boyes, titledThe Healthy Mind Toolkit: Simple Strategies to Get Out of Your Own Way and Enjoy Your Life (Tarcher/Perigee, 2018) aims to do just that. A hybrid book/workbook, The Healthy Mind Toolkit provides questionnaires and self-assessment tools to help readers catch and correct self-sabotaging behaviors, thinking errors, stuck points, and self-defeating habits. Addressing both our personal and work lives, Boyes covers areas such as relationships, financial decisions, and a large array of other domains of daily living in which habitual cognitive errors typically manifest.

Using a science-based approach (there is an extensive reference section), The Healthy Mind Toolkit breaks down complicated concepts into easy-to-understand and easy-to-implement explanations and suggestions so readers understand how to correct the behavior as well as gain insight into why they were doing it to begin with. For example, when discussing the confirmation bias—which asserts we are far more likely to notice evidence that confirms our initial assumptions than ones that contradict them—Boyes uses examples from parenting (you make an assumption about your child’s personality and then ignore contradicting evidence thus pigeon holing them), medicine (doctors can become attached to their initial diagnosis even when contradicting evidence is present and thus miss the real problem), or finance (you fall in love with a house and decide to buy it even if the inspection finds reasons for concerns–and end up with a money pit).

Recognizing the complexity of human behavior, Boyes also acknowledges that really beneficial traits can also have a downside (e.g., being very detail oriented can be useful in certain jobs and lead to time management issues in others, or that giving up too quickly is problematic but so is persisting for too long). The book’s most active ingredient—the solutions—are well explained and laid out in clear, easy-to-understand and implement steps.

However, readers should be cautioned that despite the user friendliness of the book, changing any habit, especially one that involves our default and ingrained way of thinking, requires commitment, emotional effort, and persistence. In other words, The Healthy Mind Toolkit is just that—a toolkit—it can help you get out of your own way but you have to take it seriously and make the emotional effort and commitment to confront your previous errors, if you want to get the result you want.

Why we repeat our key mistakes

Posted Apr 30, 2018

We all fail thousands of times in small and large ways. However, we don’t make thousands of different mistakes–we make a handful of similar errors and we repeat them in endless variety. This happens because we all have our individual blind spots and thinking errors and it is those that usually trip us up in life.

But if we only have a few characteristic errors why don’t we correct them?

Most of us would like to correct our mistakes as we are not purposefully sabotaging our goals. However, in order to correct a mistake we first have to see it as such and recognize the element that went awry. The problem is we do not see the real mistake because we have competing ideas about what the ‘problem’ was that direct our attention away from our characteristic errors and toward other culprits such as ‘luck’, ‘timing’, and other external causes, or we focus on justifications and explanations that do not promote further inquiry such as “I guess it just wasn’t meant to be” or “I’ll just have to try harder next time” (when we should try going about things differently). This is the definition of a ‘blind spot’.

Many of us are unaware that we have these kinds of blind spots. Even when we do recognize their theoretical existence, the reason we struggle to correct them, despite the grief they cause us, is that we are indeed blind to them. These kinds of errors in thinking and self-sabotaging behaviors simply do not register as such in our minds when we perform them.

Another reason we have a hard time identifying cognitive errors is that doing so requires us to dive into our failures and disappointments and examine them like a detective searching for a key clue at a crime scene–which given we are both the perpetrator and the victim, makes for an emotionally unpleasant task for sure. That said, as unappealing as it is to spend time and effort analyzing painful, embarrassing, and disappointing experiences, if we could figure out what was making us stuck or how we contributed to a negative outcome, we can then figure out how to avoid that kind of key error going forward. By doing so we can correct not just one negative outcome but many.

How to find your blind spots in life and turn them into strengths

Now, a new book by popular PT blogger Dr. Alice Boyes, titledThe Healthy Mind Toolkit: Simple Strategies to Get Out of Your Own Way and Enjoy Your Life (Tarcher/Perigee, 2018) aims to do just that. A hybrid book/workbook, The Healthy Mind Toolkit provides questionnaires and self-assessment tools to help readers catch and correct self-sabotaging behaviors, thinking errors, stuck points, and self-defeating habits. Addressing both our personal and work lives, Boyes covers areas such as relationships, financial decisions, and a large array of other domains of daily living in which habitual cognitive errors typically manifest.

Using a science-based approach (there is an extensive reference section), The Healthy Mind Toolkit breaks down complicated concepts into easy-to-understand and easy-to-implement explanations and suggestions so readers understand how to correct the behavior as well as gain insight into why they were doing it to begin with. For example, when discussing the confirmation bias—which asserts we are far more likely to notice evidence that confirms our initial assumptions than ones that contradict them—Boyes uses examples from parenting (you make an assumption about your child’s personality and then ignore contradicting evidence thus pigeon holing them), medicine (doctors can become attached to their initial diagnosis even when contradicting evidence is present and thus miss the real problem), or finance (you fall in love with a house and decide to buy it even if the inspection finds reasons for concerns–and end up with a money pit).

Recognizing the complexity of human behavior, Boyes also acknowledges that really beneficial traits can also have a downside (e.g., being very detail oriented can be useful in certain jobs and lead to time management issues in others, or that giving up too quickly is problematic but so is persisting for too long). The book’s most active ingredient—the solutions—are well explained and laid out in clear, easy-to-understand and implement steps.

However, readers should be cautioned that despite the user friendliness of the book, changing any habit, especially one that involves our default and ingrained way of thinking, requires commitment, emotional effort, and persistence. In other words, The Healthy Mind Toolkit is just that—a toolkit—it can help you get out of your own way but you have to take it seriously and make the emotional effort and commitment to confront your previous errors, if you want to get the result you want.