I’ve had several conversations with my boys lately about the stress of school and pressure to “put on a happy face” at school even if they are feeling tired, overwhelmed, or otherwise no cheerful. This leads to a discussion of self, who are you?, do you think your friends what you to be?, do YOU want to be?
I thought back to my group counseling practice and used one of my favorite self-awareness exercises to help them navigate the constant internal questions we have when interacting with others. The Johari Window.
The Johari Window is an excellent tool for individuals and groups to learn more about their relationships with themselves and with others.
The exercise is simple: choose a handful of words (from a given list, or a list you create with participants) that describe you, then ask your family, friends, or colleagues to do the same. Once you have your lists you can place them in their respective locations in one of four “rooms” in the Window.
The Arena this is what you and others see in you The Blind Spot this is how others would describe you, but you don’t see in yourself The Facade or Hidden room you see this in yourself, but others don’t see you this way The Unknown everything else is here - it could be unconscious behaviors, traits you haven’t yet experienced or needed, or things that simply don’t apply
Growth and strength comes when you become self aware and are able to choose to reveal (or not to) the parts of yourself that you keep hidden, this is a way of establishing boundaries and protecting them. You may reveal some things to family but not friends. It’s ok to keep some things hidden from some people, this doesn’t make you a phony or fake, you are actually choosing healthy ways of interacting with others in different scenarios.