4 Common 'Emotional Blind Spots' That Surface As Red Flags

Learning about your "blindspots" enables you to have healthier and happier relationships.

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We all have blind spots. These are those pesky places where you don’t see yourself with clarity. Alas, these are also often areas that others see quite well and are what we call red flags in relationships when we notice them in a person we're dating.

Our blind spots often emerge from our relationships with our parents and observing their relationship with each other. They go on to influence how we connect and interact with others.


And it is often these blind spots that go on to ruin relationships.

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So, what’s an ever-evolving human being to do? Well, the research says, develop your emotional intelligence. Get comfortable with the mindset that the only way to greater awareness comes in the form of listening to how you interact with the world around you.

Everyone's blind spots are different and yet, the blind spot (or spots) that’s yours may negatively impact your ability to lead an agile team, raise healthy human beings, or be in long-term relationships.


Here are 4 common emotional blind spots that surface as red flags:

1. Believing that you can tell people what to do and they will change

When you talk with people, and they share an issue that they are wrangling with, the seduction of wisdom is strong. It’s easy to have the clarity of distance when you have zero emotional attachment to the outcome.

Yet, if you believe that you have the answers and that when you tell people what to do, they'll change, you’re missing some vital intel. People don’t make inside-out connections from being told something. It’s the reason that very few of us learn by watching others.

2. Not spending enough time making healthy relationships

Most people have a lot of superficial relationships. The depth of your connectedness tends to fly right over the surface, never dipping very deeply into the realm of "realness."


You go to work, where you spend time with people, and they may or may not really know you, and you may or may not really know them. Only to come home, press rewind, and play the same story there, too.

Healthy relationships take time and energy. They take asking questions about the landscape of another person’s life. You have to connect on multiple levels and reciprocate interest.

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3. Not communicating clearly when you're stressed out or upset

Have you ever tried to have a conversation with a drunk person? Unless you’re drunk also, it tends to be pointless.

Well, there's a similar thing that happens when your brain is hopped up on stress or anger. When the fight, flight, freeze, or freakout sets in, your brain shuts down your ability to think clearly and becomes hyper-reactive.


This is fabulous if you're attempting to outrun a tiger, or at least alert all the other people running away with you. It’s not great to try to have a meaningful conversation with your thinking center turned off.

4. Avoiding difficult conversations

Not many are excited about diving into a hard conversation. Finding the words to navigate serious concerns or outright problems with the skill to have a productive and empowering conversation, often feels beyond you.

So you tend to default to a) ignoring the issue. "Let me just put my head in the sand over here. Don’t you worry about me…" Or, you stuff it down until an explosion is near.

I'm not saying you need to jump into a difficult conversation rather than avoid it, but taking the time to determine what is really important to be addressed can save you time and hurt in the long run.


In a nutshell, emotional intelligence (EQ) is the capacity to regulate your own emotions, while at the same time reading other people's emotional fields. Mental intelligence isn’t enough. Lots of very smart people have blind spots and mess up their lives.

EQ is probably an antidote to most human concerns, but it certainly plays a large part in helping you avoid the pitfalls of not being self-aware of your own downfalls.

How to combat your 'blind spots' with emotional intelligence:

1. Practice becoming self-aware

Starting with self-awareness, the willingness to stretch your understanding of yourself, your motives, biases, and reactions, is the largest portion of your emotional intelligence. It's what will help you from falling into your blind spots in the future since you'll know where you need help.

Own both aspects of yourself and then make choices about how you want to show up in the world.


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2. Learn how to self-regulate your feelings

Self-regulation of your emotions is the capacity to notice when you're heading off the rails and recognize what tools you need to bring yourself back to emotional balance.

For years, I taught anger management for the Air Force, and people in my group would say, “I just snap, I am fine and then snap, I am not fine.”

I would often walk over to a light switch and ask, flipping the lights off, then flipping them on, “Is it like this?” and they agreed that it was.

Well, in that demonstration, you need to look at all the steps that took me over to the light switch, to begin with. The ability to recognize signs, name them, and then choose to do something different is all part of developing emotional maturity.


3. Become more aware of social Intelligence

Social intelligence is your capacity for reading the lay of the land in social situations. It's fundamentally based on your ability to read the emotional landscape of those around you.

Noticing energetic shifts in conversations, the subtle signs that someone is feeling overwhelmed, or upset, and even if they are still having a good time. In short, it's the ability to read the verbal and non-verbal language of relationships.

The better you are at this, the more likely you can notice problems before they reach the “Houston, we have a problem,” stage.

There is a deeper dive to take on EQ, yet, these qualities all serve as an antidote to your blind spots. As you develop self-awareness and expand your ability to read the world and the people around you, greater capacity to avoid these common blind spots.


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Lyssa deHart, LICSW, MCC is a clinical social worker, executive coach, and the author of StoryJacking: Change Your Inner Dialogue, Transform Your Life