Knowing yourself is a vital part of change

Counsellor Anna Dallavalle, of Stepping Stones.

Counsellor Anna Dallavalle, of Stepping Stones.

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We usually identify ourselves according to our position in society, our friends and family.

We may say “I am a mother of two, I work part-time and I live in Morpeth”. This is a good description of our social role, but does not answer the question “who am I?”.

Self-awareness is about understanding why we feel what we do and what drives our behaviour. Once we understand what makes us tick, we are better placed to make changes to our life that are long lasting and satisfactory. Changing without knowing who we are is almost impossible.

I often ask clients to describe themselves without mentioning any external defining aspects, maybe even mentioning their strengths and weaknesses. This can be hard in our competitive culture where we can feel that we should appear to know everything.

In 1955 American psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham developed a tool called Johari window, which provides a clear view of our awareness.

The window is divided into four quadrants. The first, Known Self, represents aspects of yourself which are known to you and others. These are areas that you are happy to share. The second, the Hidden Self, is what you know, but do not share. The third is called Blind Spot and includes aspects of yourself that others can see, but are hidden from you. It could be that you see yourself as open-minded, while others do not agree. The last quadrant, the Unknown Self, is the part which you and others cannot see. This includes potential for development, unconscious desires and triggers for certain behaviour.

The size of each quadrant is different for all of us. A broad Known Self quadrant means that our relationships will be more transparent and fulfilling and others will be clearer about who we are.

Anna Dallavalle is a counsellor working with individuals and couples and has a private practice in Morpeth. Visit www.steppingstonesne.co.uk