A few months ago, I wrote an article on Creating Your Life Handbook. In the article, I mentioned several things to list in your handbook, such as your strengths and weaknesses, your core values, and in particular, your blind spots. One of the readers, Darren, asked me what blind spots are and requested an article on it. That inspired me to write this article.
Every time we open our eyes, light enters our pupils and shines onto our retina. Inside our retina are photoreceptors – nerve cells that interpret light, transmits the information to the brain. That’s actually how we see things.
It’s pretty straight forward, except there is a small area on our retina is where there are no photoreceptors. This is known as our blind spot.
Refer to cross-sectional diagram below, circled in red. Since there are no photoreceptors here, we’re not able to interpret any light shone in the section, hence referred to as “blind” spot.
By right, our blind spot areas should appear as black areas in our field of vision. But they are obviously not – we’re able to see our surroundings, read all the words in a book, see everything on our laptop screen, etc just fine. Why is that the case?
That’s because our brain is able to assess our surroundings, estimate the missing spot and project it in place of the blank space. Thanks to that, we get a complete field vision of what’s before us like we do now.
The past few paragraphs may sound like mambo-jumbo if you’re a visual learner, so I’m going to show you an example. For the next few minutes, try the free Blind Spot exercise at this link. It shows you how our brain is able to project the background and fill up the empty space in the blind spot. The same applies regardless of how complicated the background is. It just takes 2 minutes max, so return when you are done. I’ll be here waiting
What Does The Exercise Show?
How was the exercise for you? What does it show?
This exercise shows that the mental projection by our brain isn’t an accurate reflection of the reality, even though it may look right and be right most of the time. While we may think we can see everything, what we see before us may not be what’s really there.
This ties in precisely with the concept of blind spots in personal development.
Blind Spots in Personal Development
Blind spots (defined in the context of personal development) refer to the aspects of ourselves we aren’t fully conscious of. This can refer to a broad spectrum of different things – our traits, values, actions, idiosyncrasies, habits, feelings, thoughts, etc.
For example, let’s say you dislike people who are arrogant. Why so? Your immediate response may be that they make you feel uncomfortable or they are overbearing. But these are just surface level reasons. What is the deeper reason why arrogant people affect you?
This reason is usually beyond our immediate observation – we can only identify them when we probe deeper. Blind spots aren’t as immediately observable to us compared to people around us, such as friends who have known us for a while or someone who is trained to identify them, like a life coach.
Blind spots also includes our physiological behaviors. For example, I have always talked really fast since I was young. Everyone I have met before kept pointing this out, especially during my secondary school years, junior college years and university years. It was typical to have people comment my rate of speech with “a bullet train”. Some often asked if I was in the debating team. One of my friends in particular suggested that I become a rap leader, which I thought was hilarious! Even then, while I have heard their comments and acknowledged their opinions, I never fully registered it as true. Because in my head, my rate of speech didn’t seem fast at all.
That was, until I saw videos of my presentations and audios of my voice. I still remember the first time I played back an audio recording of my voice a few years ago. My immediate reaction was – Why on earth was this person talking so fast for? It was quite hilarious because that thought popped into my mind the instant I heard my voice. Despite knowing I should be listening to my voice, I couldn’t identify with it. The rate of speech was beyond what I had heard before!
Even after this incident, I continued to be unconscious of my rate of speech for a large majority of the time, until people (usually new acquaintances) commented. Today, it still happens, though I’m much more aware of it than in the past. It’s something I’ve become more conscious of since I speak at events and conferences. I try to slow down during my presentations and speeches, but beyond that I stick to my original talking speed when with friends.
Why Uncover Blind Spots?
Why is it important to know your blind spots? Because it is a necessary part of your personal growth. Blind spots are things you are unaware of. Identifying our blind spots and understanding them heightens our level of self-awareness. When we develop a greater self-awareness, it puts us in greater alignment with our higher selves and who we are meant to be. The net result is a speedier progression toward achieving your own level of greatness Getting a personal coach is an excellent way to uncover your own blind spots so that you can become better.
Blind spots aren’t necessarily negative traits or weaknesses, though they usually are. When you are oblivious to something, there is a high likelihood that (1) you have never worked on it before, which leaves an opportunity for improvement (2) it is acting as an invisible boundary that limits your experience in your life. When you uncover your blind spots and actively work on them, you start becoming more conscious as an individual, of your strengths and opportunity areas, the boundaries you operate within. If you don’t uncover these blind spots, you will never be able to work on them, simply because you aren’t aware of their existence.
In my pursuit toward my highest level of personal growth, uncovering my blind spots is a constant interest of mine. I’m always on the lookout of situations when I feel resistance or when my consciousness is lowered. On my blog, I open myself to all feedback I receive from readers, whether positive or negative (if any). During my 1-1 coaching in the past, I would encourage my coachees to provide feedback to help improve the experience of the coaching sessions and enable me be a better coach to them. Even by myself, I frequently apply my own techniques to myself so I can become a better person.
Whenever I discover a blind spot (it can be as frequent as a few times a day when I’m consciously looking out for them or once every few days) and actively address on them, it evolves me into a better person. Over the years, I’ve constantly sought to uncover and iron out blind spots within me. The person I’ve become today and the person I was in the past are quite different, and it wasn’t through luck or accident. It was through conscious desire and work. For example, in the past, my neurotic perfectionism often resulted in myopia and ineffectiveness, which hindered me from achieving greater results. It also led me to become an aggressive person who was domineering and bossy. My emotional stinginess also made me an unpleasant and selfish person. All these blocked me from being the person I saw myself to be. It was through conscious work on these blind spots that made me a better person today.
Just like growth is a life long journey, the process of uncovering blind spots never ends too. With every blind spot we identify and tackle, there is always a next blind spot to uncover. Due to the infinite vastness of our mind, it is impossible to identify every single blind spot within us at this current moment. The only day that can happen is when we fully unlock our subconsciousness and operate at full 100% of our brain – this is likely to be a while in the future since most people are still operating at under <1% of the full potential of our brains.