When Response Does Not Match Intentions

I hate getting caught in that Known to Others/Blind to Self part of Johari’s window. As someone who prides herself on her self awareness, growing wisdom, and improving emotional self-management, it really sucks to get caught there again.

But, then again, this is the human condition and none of us are immune to it. And just because I’ve made a lot of progress in the last 15 years, doesn’t mean that I’ve completed the work. After all, it’s all relative: going from 10% to 25% self-awareness is a huge improvement but still reflects a long way to go.

My lesson this month had to do with my schema. Remember, schema are the assumptions and beliefs (often a deep and unconscious fear) through which we filter our view of the world. When someone pushes our hot buttons – get us really pissed or upset – usually it means they’ve triggered our schema and confirmed our deepest and worse fear. I’ve gotten really good at managing that part of my schema. My pissed off phase is so much shorter and milder than in the past.

The part of my schema reaction that I am still terrible at accounting for is that low level simmer that flies just below my radar. When I haven’t adequately acknowledged or dealt with a hot button issue, I feel a tightness in my chest and the feelings reflecting my underlying sadness, anger, or resentment seep out in almost everything I do.

In addition to the tightness in my chest, I can tell I have unresolved emotions because the tension tends to run higher than expected in my interpersonal interactions. If I’m feeling disproportionately annoyed by small things, others react to me with the same impatience that I’m trying to hide.

In short, I’m receiving what I’m putting out. If I don’t like what I’m receiving, I need to revise what I’m transmitting, especially if I think I’m being an angel. Yes my intentions may be good, but that’s no excuse for telegraphing my unresolved crap.

I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to learn to understand those Known to Others/Unknown to Self elements of myself. I know those elements will be ever-present and continually represent an opportunity to improve and grow. Indeed, I’m feeling much better now having uncovered some unprocessed emotion, and others are responding to me once again in ways that match my intentions. Yes, looking in can be scary and is usually humbling, but it so beats the alternative.

Self-Awareness and Johari's Window

Self-Awareness and Johari’s Window

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