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WINDOW INTO OURSELVES-Dimensions of our Facets

WINDOW INTO OURSELVES-Dimensions of our Facets

Two months ago, we talked about the facets in each one of us in The Blind Men and the Elephant ; we tried to see what others see when they look at us or think of us. We are trying to unveil the blindness from our eyes. 

In life, we are each the elephant and also the blind men!

This month we go deeper into the universe that each of us represents, in isolation and in relation to the people we constantly encounter.

First, let us clear ourselves: take three deep breaths out and in, and bring in the white light to clear out all thoughts. As we do so, we find the material that we read goes even deeper and draws out a profound response from within.

As we encounter another person, a window opens: into the other person and also into ourselves. This happens whether the encounter is face-to-face, or not. Whether or not we are conscious of it, we learn something about ourselves and the other. Those of us who live in the world of people can take solace in the fact that there is a way of knowing ourselves even in times when we cannot meditate!Many years ago, two psychologists JOseph Luft and HARry Ingham described this metaphorical window. We can think of a window opening for each person we encounter. The JOHARI Window, as it is called after its founders, is a model that helps us to put a framework on our understanding of ourselves better, in relation to people that we meet and who know us. Though it is commonly used for interactions between people, we can choose to extend it as deep as we would like to.

The windowpanes divide the window into four parts. The wonderful thing about them is that the panes can move in any direction; so each part or “quadrant” of the window can- and does- become smaller or bigger as we get to know ourselves and the other person better.



Let us examine this very useful model that describes the process of human interaction. In this model, each person is represented by their own window. Let’s simplify this as you and me- the members of our exclusive holistic-life group.1. The “open” quadrant represents things that are known to both – you and me. For example, my name, the things I have written and spoken to you about me. Those who know me personally, know other things about me, and vice versa. If we get to know each other better, the window shade will move, making this first quadrant bigger. As it becomes bigger, quadrant 2 or 3 may become smaller How much of this openness do I enjoy? What do I like in my relationships with people? Whom am I open with? What do I like to share with people in general?.

2. The “blind” quadrant represents things that you know about me, but that I am unaware of. For example some of you have seen what I look like when I talk, and I do not. You’ve seen my back and I have not! You see my body language when we’re face to face, and I do not. Whether or not you have met me, based on my behavior, and my writing, you have made inferences about me. [To give an example, you may have thought that the “holistic-life moderator” was a male]. Why is it important for this quadrant to be smaller? Because this is the part of me that influences other people’s behavior towards me, but I am unaware of it.

For example, do you feel that I know what I’m writing about? Am I honest in my writing? Frivolous? Disconnected? In the same way, I make inferences based on my experience with each of you- what you write and whether or not you write. [Now what am I to infer about the “not replying to any of my exhortations to share? Hmmmm…;-) ]

The point here is not whether or not these inferences are right or wrong, but that people’s behavior towards us depends on what they know or think they know about us; and if we are unaware of what they think they know, then we are perplexed by their behavior, and can do little to change it if we wanted to. If you choose to share any of this information with me, the shades between the “open” and “blind” quadrants move to the right, making this a smaller quadrant.

How can we find out what people think about us? When someone behaves inexplicably to us, what do we attribute their behavior to: their lack of knowledge about us, or our lack of knowledge about them?

3. The “hidden” quadrant represents things that I know about me that you do not know: ones that I may be unable or unwilling to share. This is typically the area of motives and private thoughts. What did I do today? What do I plan to do? What am I reading? What do I think about you? What is my opinion about the world today? As soon as I tell you any of this, I move the information in my hidden quadrant and enlarge the open quadrant. We decide what to share and keep hidden about ourselves from others. Sometimes, some things that we hide may actually harm us or others [e.g. a child hiding an abusive person from his parents as we are now reading so much about in the news]; but at other times, we are probably wise in not boring the other with details about ourselves! How can I know what to hide and what to disclose to another?

4. The “unknown” quadrant represents things that neither I know about myself, nor you know about me. Our dreams, repressed memories, forgotten events, fall into this category. Why is it important? Because it comes up in surprising ways- dreams, inexplicable emotions, gut-feels, intuition, visions. Opening up this quadrant is a matter for each of us to decide for ourselves. But it is something to keep in mind: that we don’t know everything about ourselves.

How do I view the parts of me that are unknown? A Pandora’s Box of memories and painful incidents that I am scared to open? Something unimportant best left unknown? Or a mystery worth unveiling?

Some events in our lives cause parts of the unknown to become known: it could be a major event like marriage or becoming a parent or a death of a close person; or an unusual one like talking in public for the first time, being forced to do something we’ve never wanted to try before; it could be meditation, or sometimes feedback from a wise one. We discover hidden strengths, surprising weaknesses, unimagined qualities in ourselves. And if we’re really lucky, we begin to discover the dimensions within ourselves and our connections with each other.

This intriguing quadrant is like a black hole in the universe- who knows what it contains and where it leads!

Each person we meet, is different from the other. In our dealing with each person, we uncover things we didn’t know about them and what we didn’t know about ourselves: there may be a tenderness we discover only if we have a child; or a nasty temper that is uncovered only when we meet someone who lives with rules completely different from ours.

No one is static- so we not only uncover, we also change as we meet people. But that is a story for another day.

Question: Is more better? The more people we meet, the more we learn about ourselves?

Enjoy and share.That’s the way to become aware!


© Meenakshi Suri 2002

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