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Awareness, Acceptance, Action

Cognitive blind spots present a significant roadblock to the full realization of individual human potential.  There are many kinds of blind spots including those that are common to all humans  such as the  Bandwagon Effect , where individuals become attracted to popular trends, or the Restraint Bias where individuals overestimate their capacity to resist temptation.    There are also other types of blind spots that are common to individuals who have suffered neurological damage.   The term reduced deficit awareness refers to an individual’s lack of awareness of a cognitive problem and it’s impact on his functional capabilities.  For example, a patient may be certain he can drive despite deep paralysis and a visual field cut!   Even our normal dominant psychological preferences for sensing versus intuition and thinking versus feeling as defined by our MBTI personality type set the stage for cognitive blind spots and biases.

Interestingly, the process to overcome these challenges is  similar.. First there is an awareness that our personal effectiveness is limited in some way. Next  is an acceptance that  a mindset or an existing way of approaching a problem is the reason we are coming up short of our goals.   Finally,  an action plan is generated to bring about change.

For instance, in neurological rehabilitation, one of the most important indicators for significant recovery after a stroke or brain injury is awareness of deficits. Realistically, how can improvements be made if one is blind to the need for change?  Moreover, there are several levels of awareness that must be achieved in order to change:

7 Levels of  Self- Awareness That Can Lead to Change:

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Spontaneity and It’s Evil Twin Impulsivity

prefrontal cortex

If you were to look in a thesaurus, you would probably find the words spontaneity and impulsivity listed as synonyms for each other.  Both states are unplanned,unconstrained, and governed by natural impulses.  To be impulsive or spontaneous is to be flexible, able to bend in a new direction at a moment’s notice.  However, they really aren’t the same when examined more closely.  Impulsivity is actually the evil twin of spontanaeity.

It’s a sunny day and your best friend calls you in the morning to see if you can take the day off to go on a picnic.  If you’re spontaneous, you consider the offer, take stock of what work is mission critical, and decide if your co-workers can cover for you.  If all of these variables check out, then you clear it with your boss and you enjoy the day.  On the other hand, if you are impulsive,  you say “yes” immediately, call in sick, and head off for  a day of fun giving no consideration to the long range consequences or who is affected by your actions, including yourself.

Impulsivity is seldom a good thing. It is one of the variables that lead people toward high risk behavior. It sabotages follow-through and leaves good ideas unfinished.  It is rash, erratic, and unpredictable.  It is frequently present in individuals who have had damage to the pre-frontal cortex area of the brain by way of head injury or stroke.  However even without a neurological event,  impulsivity is commonly seen in children, adolescents and many adults.  There are impulsive  shoppers (compulsive shoppers are driven by a different psychological force), people who say whatever comes to mind,  or those who find it difficult to stay on task when a new possibility presents itself . Just because one has reached a certain age does not guarantee that impulse control has been mastered.  Impulse control takes physical maturity, self-awareness, and often strategies to bring it under control.   The brain develops in response to the demands one places upon it. For some, this is requires great effort but the pay-off is well worth it.

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MBTI Step III Day 3 of Training: Case Studies, Practicing Interpretation, Q & A

Today was the final day of training for the MBTI Step III. After 2 days of studying the theoretical underpinnings of the instrument as well as the construction and validity, today we practiced interprettingusing it under the watchful eye of our esteemed instructors.  We examined 3 different cases  of people who had donated their Step III report for the purposes of training.  Therefore, these were real people who had answered inventory questions and received a report that was based on the rules they triggered resulting in specific statements about their current behavior and accompanying suggestions for personal growth.  Everyone had the opportunity to play the role of the client, the coach and/or counselor, and the observer.  Final questions and answers about our own reports or any other topic were also discussed.

The first thing I noticed about using the Step III report in a real life setting was even though it was rich with information and feedback,  there was infinite flexibility in how this information could be used to promote a discussion. Because the report is not a diagnosis or a final rendering of an individual’s personality, a statement contained in the report could be discussed in any number of ways.  For example, a statement might read: “You seem to be indifferent to or ignore logical consequences in matters that are of immediate concern to you, perhaps because other things are more important to you at the time.”  From there, a client might say, “Well yes. I don’t tend to worry too much about what I consider small stuff.”  Or, “You know, I am just not myself these days. I usually pay my bills on time but lately, they have been piling up on my desk.   My mother broke her hip 3 months ago and it seems all I do is tend to her needs.”  For one individual, ignoring certain things that are of immediate concern is simply a reflection of their laid back attitude. For another, it is recognized as an important problem that requires further discussion.

Another observation I had about the report is that it is important to keep an individual’s known type  as well as dominant function in mind when evaluating the data.  For example, an INFP  and an ENTJ might both receive the following statement in his Step III report:  “You find it hard to deal with situations that require you to take a detached and logical approach in making a decision.”  Well, for INFP who is a dominant introverted feeler (and whose inferior or least preferred function is logical, detached thinking, this statement might no raise any special concerns only to point out that many INFP’s do not tend to use “detached, logical thinking” when approaching a situation.  They are more likely to think of people or values first.  They may add logical thinking into their cognitive mix but it is likely to require a little extra mental energy.  An ENTJ, on the other hand, IS a dominant thinker and should therefore be using detached, logical thinking competently and with relative ease.  If this is not the case, it may be important to probe for some sort of stress that might be compromising optimal functioning which is often the case when someone is not using his dominant function well.

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