Have you ever been told that you were funny or ambitious or confident and you were surprised about it? Because you never considered yourself to be that kind of person.
Often, we are not good at seeing ourselves clearly. We watch our personality through the glasses of our past and perceived insecurities. We believe that we are a certain way because certain things have happened to us. But we fail to see the change along the way.
Knowing who you are is an essential part of achieving a meaningful life. Once you know what kind of person you are and can be, you can set the tracks to become your best self and find the career and lifestyle that is fit for you.
To understand the difference between how we view ourselves and how others look at us, my coach recommended me to try out the Johari window.
What is the Johari Window?
The Johari window was created in 1955 by the two psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham. It is a precise exercise that helps people to understand their relationship with themselves and others better.
The outline is simple: There are four quadrants, named the arena, the facade, the blind spot and the unknown. You can use the Johari window in different ways, but I will show you how I used it with my coach.
In the first cell “known to self & known to others” you can list adjectives and characteristics that describe you. These are the characteristics that you recognize in yourself but that also others mention when they talk with you. This cell is called the arena, and it describes the attributes that we usually feel most confident about. We can express them openly, and others perceive them clearly.
If you need help with getting ideas for adjectives, check out this list under Johari Adjectives.
The second cell is “known to self & unknown to others". Here you can write down attributes that are a part of you but that you do not show to others. This cell is called the facade because these are attributes you prefer to hide from others unknowingly or on purpose. For example, you might hide a strong will to compete but keep it to yourself in favor of pleasing others.
In the third cell, things get a bit challenging. In the blind spot, you want to think of attributes that others have said you have, but you do not agree with that perception. Often you feel like these characteristics are not like you at all. Here you can spot distorted beliefs about yourself like feeling introverted or antisocial even though people always seem to enjoy your company. You might find motivating surprises in this cell.
To get a clear answer to this cell, you can ask your friends, family, and co-workers about the characteristics they see in you. Some questions could be: “What do you value about our relationship?”: “What do you think my top three qualities are?” or “What would you say I’m passionate about?”
I will tell you more about gathering feedback from others in a later blog post.
Finally, the only thing left is the unknown. But how can we list anything that we do not know about and others do not either? Ask yourself, what kind of attributes would you like to express? What characteristics are hidden inside you that your meaningful lifestyle requires? The answer can be found in the vision of the person you want to become. Remember you are not fixed a set of characteristics for your entire life. You keep evolving all the time and develop new attributes, skills, and strengths for as long as you live.
I hope the Johari window can help you with finding your true self and discovering what you want to do in your life. I would love to hear your insights, your feedback or any questions related to this post in the comments.
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