A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Saturday, 4 February 2012

The Aim Of Self-Awareness

KNOWN TO OTHERS the public self the blind self
UNKNOWN TO OTHERS the secret self the unconscious self

The  public self is that part of ourselves which is available for all of us to see. The  secret self, we admit to ourselves but keep from others. The blind self is seen by others but not known by ourselves and the unconscious self is unavailable to both ourselves and others, but may continue to influence our emotions and behaviour.

The aim of self-awareness is to increase the open, public self and decrease the other areas. We can reduce the blind self by feedback from others, and reduce the secret self by being more open. There are various ways we can work on our unconscious self, including counselling, through hypnosis or by examining our dreams.

From Counselling Skills In Context by SALLY ALDRIDGE and SALLY RIGBY


Susan Scheid said...

Well, this is interesting indeed. I'm actually finding something a little worrisome about this idea: "The aim of self-awareness is to increase the open, public self and decrease the other areas." I'd never thought of the "secret self" as a negative, but more I think about keeping the public and secret (or I would say "private") selves in balance. Will be interested in yours and others thoughts on this.

Kleine Motte said...

for many of us with visual impairments the yellow colour in a blog is very hard to read. Perhaps awareness of this could result in a darker colour choice?

Bonnie said...

While the Jo-Hari Window illuminates basic ways one can become more self-aware, it was designed mainly to shine a light on our level of self-awareness and our resulting behaviors in each of our different relationships.

If you look at the window in terms of different relationships in your life you will see that the "window" changes depending on the particular relationship. E.g. You keep more "unknown to others" in one relationship than another - you receive more "feedback" (indicating that you have more of a blind area than you were aware of) in another relationship.

Our Jo-Hari window is alway in flux and changes dynamically according to who we are with. (The unconscious area remains pretty much the same even in different relationships.) When you just meet someone, there is much less in the "public" area between the two of you. With appropriate disclosure and some feedback - each person's public arena in that relationship will enlarge. If it doesn't, it is a good hint that it is not a relationship that will endure.

All that to say that as one becomes more self-aware you don't bring all of that self-awareness into the public area in every relationship. You choose appropriately according to your awareness of self and other what you will bring into the public domain.

The Solitary Walker said...

I agree completely with your more subtle and detailed explanation of the Jo-Hari Window, Bonnie. Like Susan, the idea of increasing the open, public self, and decreasing the secret self, struck me at first as something I may not actually want to do. Then I realised that, pretty much unconsciously, we maintain this balance between public and private all the time, and that it's a subtly different balance in each of our relationships — as you say in your comment. I don't think the suggestion is that the 'secret self' is 'a negative', Susan. (In my view the private self is essential.) But I think the idea may be that, the more open/honest/transparent/revealing we can be with those with whom we feel safe to be like this, the better it is for our psychic health. Would that be right, Bonnie? I think you're absolutely right, Susan, about that concept of 'balance'.

I feel I'm pretty ok about opening myself up to others, and find no problems in the one-to-one and group role plays etc. on the course. But, at the same time, I treasure my more private, inner world too — though, once again, I'm pretty easy about sharing some of it, as this blog may demonstrate? I think it's exciting, and valuable to do this. It's that honest feedback about oneself from others — casting light on the 'blind self' — that I think I may find more challenging!

Kleine Motte, I'll try to do something about this. I know you've mentioned it before. I did experiment with a few darker colours, but they didn't seem quite right. I'll have another go.

Anonymous said...

Oh SW this post take me years ago (15). I learned about this too. This morning I searched my notes and found this diagram it calls Johari's Window ! My old notes was...."To develop this self-awarness we have to identify our own desires, needs, believes and check their application in the day-to-day life. Speaking with itself find the link between what we speak and what we really want. And identify what we hide to the others like feelings, desires." Yes, before we can help other we may help itself...a long way, in any case for me 15 years was not absolutely enough...! Mick

Susan Scheid said...

I'm particularly glad I stopped back over to see what the responses had been after I'd written. The concepts are indeed more subtle than at first appeared to me. I think you're off to a roaring start with this subject, no question.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, Mick, for your contribution ... and Susan, for your further comment!

Bonnie said...

I so agree with what you have added in the comment section Robert. The private self is essential and if you have ever been around anyone with self-revealing diarrhea ... well it is so off-putting.

Opening up the private area of the imaginary quadrant requries self-awareness to know how much to reveal, and when. This is called appropriate disclosure. Someone telling you every detail about themselves is divulging rather than disclosing.

It is a subtle process and as you note we make assessments in every relationship as to what we will disclose which are often based on trust and safety.

It should also be said that it is not our job to open someone's blind area with feedback. This too should only be done appropriately and with compassion - and the timing must be right. Self-awareness will hopefully tune us in to "other awareness" and we will not demolish a fragile ego with harsh, ill-timed feedback.

Ingram and Luft used to call the "open" or "public" (I disagree with the use of public, btw) area, the "intimate" area. Perhaps they should have kept that word because feedback and disclosure are delicate behaviors that should build intimacy in relationships.

Sorry for going on so ... I used to teach this stuff. It is very easy to co-opt a symbolic formula and use it in a superficial way. As you and Susan said, there is much more to it than one might think at first glance.

Thanks for creating a forum for this interesting topic Robert.

George said...

I know that we have moved on from this post, but I will throw in my two-cents worth nonetheless. When I first read the post, I delayed my comments because the subject matter raised more questions than answers for me.

Initially, I was perplexed by the notion of reducing the secret self in order to increase the public self, for I strongly believe that it is both appropriate and psychologically healthy to have a private dimension to one's life. However, now that I have re-read the post and the comments, I realize that the idea is not to completely surrender the secret self, but to move toward more openness in those circumstances in which it would enhance a relationship. I like Bonnie's idea that "you don't bring all of that self-awareness into the public area in every relationship," but, instead, "you choose appropriately according to your awareness of self and other what you will bring into the public domain."

Like you—if I understand your own comments correctly—I continue to be troubled by the suggestion that we should also be willing to modify our behavior in response to the feedback we receive from others about our "blind self." First, with something as important as our psychological well-being, how can we ever trust the views of others about who we are? Perhaps those views are the individual projections of those people, projections that have more do do with their selves than our self. Second, at what point do we begin to compromise our authenticity by tailoring our behavior based upon the feedback of others? At a visceral level, this brings up the larger issue of self-realization. After all of the years of struggling against the grain of one's family and culture to find and express one's true self, should we now suggest that we have been "blind" to who we are, and that we now need feedback from others as to who we really are?

As you can see, there are thousands of facets to this whole discussion. I thank you, however, for raising these issues, for they cause all of us to reconsider the multiple dimensions of the self. As you can see, however, all of my reservations are related to having the others define who we are. From your comments, I suspect you have the same reservations.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks so much, George, for this long and thoughtful comment. Re. the feedback thing, both you and Bonnie have helped me with some of my own concerns about it. As Bonnie says, I think we have to be very sensitive how we do this — and, as you say, the quality and nature of the feedback depends very much on the authenticity of the person giving it, and may indeed in some cases reflect more of his/her own issues than those of the recipient.

The giving and receiving of feedback, and the role of observers in particular counselling situations, is very much part of the counselling ethos; and, from my extremely limited practice and understanding so far, it can serve a useful role — if properly and sensitively performed.

I've heard that it may be useful to consider the giving and receiving of feedback as a 'gift'. Don't know what you think about that!

George said...

Thanks for the follow-up, Robert. Given my tardiness in commenting, I really didn't expect a response, but it's much appreciated nonetheless. Good luck in your course!