How Much do You Know About Yourself?
It might surprise you to know that no matter how much self exploration you have done, there are still parts of yourself that remain hidden. And as you will see in the next few minutes, those areas are ripe with information that can help you grow and change the ways you relate to yourself and to others.
In 1955, psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham created a model to show the internal workings of the self. Combining their names, they called it The Johari Window. In the decades since, it has been a helpful model for understanding our internal workings and their impact on how we relate to others.
They divided the human mind into 4 regions:
1. Open/Free Area: What you know about yourself and what others know about you.
This is the part of yourself that you consider acceptable. This is where your “good self” lives. When you expand this area, it helps you communicate and minimizes distortions and misunderstandings. As you develop this area, it encroaches on the blind and hidden areas, making them smaller and less troublesome.
2. Blind Area: What others know about you but you do not know about yourself.
No matter how hard you work to know yourself, there are areas that are unknown. This material comes out in your behavior, attitudes and feelings. Others can see these parts of you even though you cannot.
When you get feedback from people you trust, it is usually about this part of you. Many times, the people around you can see your abilities and potential when you cannot.
3. Hidden Area: What you know about yourself and do not let others know.
This is where your secrets live. This is also where shame resides. Shame is the belief that you are so bad that nothing can be done about it. It is the part of you that parents, teacher and society told you was wrong and bad.
4. Unknown Area: What you do not know about yourself and what others do not know.
This is the unconscious mind. Within it lives the information that you do not or cannot know about yourself. The information here influences what you think, feel and do without you being aware of it.
In childhood, we all had experiences that made us feel bad about ourselves. These experiences felt so overwhelming that they were tucked away in our unconscious mind where we didn't have to deal with them. This is where those painful memories reside. The shadow self contains all the unmet needs, unacceptable feelings, thoughts and behaviors.
This is also where your greatest potential resides. In learning more about what is in that shadow self, you can find the clues that will lead you to healing.
The good/bad split
To survive any overwhelming experience, you split yourself into “good” and “bad.” When you do this, you remove vital parts of your emotional life and store them deep inside of yourself. You can hide away your creativity, passions, sexuality, ability to have deep feelings, energy, spontaneity, desires, enthusiasms, dreams, and whatever else defined as frivolous. Those are stored in the Unknown Area.
A belief that you are not good enough, smart enough, funny enough or good-looking enough developed inside of you. This belief drives everything you do and say. You work constantly to hide your unacceptable parts. Out of this need to hide, develops a false self that tells you not to have needs.
As a result, you over-identify with your False-self. In an attempt to get your needs met, you work hard to look acceptable to others. You lose your True-self in the process. You keep hoping that if you are good enough, you will receive the respect, love and recognition you always wanted.
It does not work.
Instead, you find yourself working hard and doing as much as possible to look good to others. No matter how hard you work, you feel empty inside.
The path to healing is to know your True-self.
Looking at your hurt, fear, insecurity and hidden self is the path to healing. The next step is to learn to accept yourself and love the parts of you that are imperfect and wounded. As you do this, you will be able to reclaim the hidden parts of yourself and bring them into the open. This leads to a fuller and happier life.
Next week I will talk about some ways that you can discover some of those hidden and unknown parts of yourself.