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The telltale signs you’ve got an emotional blind spot – and 7 steps to combat it

WE all like to think we’re in touch with our real feelings, but sometimes our subconscious has other ideas.

Avoiding messaging a friend back? Showing off on social media when an ex hasn’t returned your call? 


If you’re shutting down in certain areas of your life, it might be a sign of an emotional blind spot that needs your attention[/caption]

Becoming controlling at home because you feel powerless at work? 

These are all telltale signs you’ve got an emotional blind spot your unconscious is trying to protect you from.

“We cut off or distract ourselves to avoid dealing with our feelings,” says Heidi Hauer, holistic health expert and leadership coach (heidihauer.com). 

“We may even become so adept at burying difficult feelings or diverting ourselves from them, they barely register.”

That’s not good for us though. “The cost of brushing feelings under the carpet is huge, as unexpressed feelings of sadness, rejection, shame, fear, rage or disappointment impact us physically and mentally,” says Hauer.

So how do you clock your emotional blind spots and tackle your feelings head on?

1. Ask for 360 feedback

“Choose a handful of people you trust, who know you in different ways for some time,” Hauer says. 

“Ask them for their honest opinion on the emotions you display most, what you avoid and your personality traits. 

“Sometimes the emotional self that others see gives us a clue as to the ‘shadow’ side that characterises our blind spots. 

“So those who outwardly appear, for example, extremely organised, may feel terrified of feeling out of control.”

“We might get really busy with work to avoid feeling insecure, or behave submissively in relationships to protect ourselves from conflict,” adds Hauer.

A friend’s opinion can help you see yourself more objectively. 

2. Take baby steps

“If you’ve been avoiding checking emails or responding to messages, set yourself a timer for 10 minutes and tackle what you can. 

“If you are on a roll and still feel able to continue when it stops, then do,” says Dr Marianne Trent, clinical psychologist and founder of Good Thinking Psychological Services (goodthinkingpsychology.co.uk). 

3. Acknowledge your feelings

“Test how it feels to speak up about feelings you would normally ignore,” Hauer says. 

“Start in a safe space with a friend you trust, and go from there. 

“You don’t need to go into detail, but saying, ‘I’m good thanks,’ to a friend when you have had a really hard week is doing yourself and them a disservice.”

And long term, it can cause real damage. 

“Over time, the drip-feed of squashed-down emotion leads to disconnection – we feel out of touch with ourselves and we may also experience anxiety, depression, or physical problems such as chronic headaches and fatigue,” says Hauer. 

4. Check in

“Take a few moments each day to check in with yourself,” Trent suggests. 

“Drop your shoulders, lift your chin slightly, take a slow breath in through your nose, hold for a moment, exhale through your mouth, hold for a moment. 

“Repeat for three to four breath cycles. This will help to engage your ‘wise mind’ [your intuition and what you do deep emotional thinking with], which in turn will help you use more adaptive coping strategies.” 

Strategies like pausing to think before you react, or deciding to confront a feeling or situation rather than run away from it. 

“We are all just doing our best to get through each day with the resources we have,” says Trent. 

“Our ability to cope with challenging situations may differ day to day and even moment to moment.” 

And that can be affected by who you’re with, your health and how safe or accepted you feel. 

“When we are comfortably within our window of tolerance we are able to mindfully choose the most appropriate response to any given situation,” adds Trent. 

“When we are outside our window of tolerance, our brains are in fight or flight.”

5. Keep a blindspot journal

“Every day, spend five minutes jotting down a record of whatever felt like the most difficult or painful emotional experience of the day,” Hauer advises.

“Ask yourself: Did I do something to distract from this feeling? What was the feeling and what did I do?”

It’ll help you face up to your feelings, rather than retreat from them.

“If we emotionally retreat to cope with how we feel, those around us might feel we are unreachable or unreliable and this could lead to tensions within relationships and even sometimes, relationship breakdown, not to mention career jeopardy,” Trent warns. 

6. Embrace your inner child

“Think about what your younger self has to say about any given situation,” Trent says. 

“Make a list of how you respond to conflict and threat, what you do to celebrate, what you do to commiserate and identify what younger versions of yourself would likely have done in any situation. 

“Notice but don’t judge any patterns.”

7. Explore the past

“Often these strategies of avoidance will have developed from childhood when we were less able to speak up for ourselves and have our needs met,” says Trent. 

“Ask yourself: ‘What were the ‘unspoken rules’ in my family growing up?’” Hauer suggests.

“Most families have these, whether it’s ‘Dad knows best,’ or, ‘Don’t make a fuss.’ 

“How might your response to such unspoken rules have made you want to deny feeling a particular feeling?”

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