What are you trying to get away with? Who are you hiding from? Hidden behaviours, hidden feelings, hidden thoughts? What is your drug of choice? Chocoholic? Breadaholic? Alcoholic, sexaholic, workaholic, shopaholic or anotheraholic? Or are you just a creature of habit?
Do you keep things hidden from others? Could your friends possibly know things about you that you don’t even know? The answer is most definitely yes.
There is a simple, but powerful, tool to understand your relationship with yourself and others. The Johari Window was created by two American psychologists and is widely used in both the business and therapeutic communities.
The Johari Window is a tool for exploring the different types of knowledge that you and others have about you. There’s the knowledge that’s ‘out there’ – the things you know and everyone else knows about you: you ride a bicycle and you’re vegetarian. Then there’s the stuff that you know about yourself but you keep hidden: you smoke occasionally and you were once done for drink driving. Then there are some things that other people recognise in you that you’re not aware of, such as the fact you snore. There will also be some sides to you that no-one know, not even yourself: such as a hidden potential to paint great artwork.
Understanding that you are multi-faceted and not always aware of your different ‘windows’ can help you to explore your pattens of behaviour and discover more about the reasons why you make the choices you do.
Here’s an example of the four windows for Beth, an obese woman:
Open Self (information known to Beth and others)
- She is fat
- She has a good sense of humour
- She always tries to dress well
- She always uses the lift
- She’s in the process of getting divorced
- She’s always willing to help others.
Blind self (information known to others but not to Beth)
- In meetings, she eats more biscuits than anyone else
- Some people in the office call her ‘lard arse’ behind her back
- Beth’s colleague Jane won’t sit on the same chair she’s used
- Her husband had affairs.
Secret self (information known only to Beth and which she is unwilling to share with others)
- I often turn down social invitations
- My life is on hold until I lose weight (again)
- I hate myself
- No-one has hugged me for ten years
- I hide food in the car boot and eat it secretly
- I think I am disgusting.
Unknown self (information known to no-one)
- Most of the weight Beth has gained has been through quick-t0-grab finger foods
- Beth thinks she’s hungry when she’s just tired
- Beth has undiagnosed type 2 diabetes
- Beth has addictive reactions to white flour and white sugar
- Beth is the one who eats all the cheese in the fridge
- Beth has a good singing voice.
What does this mean for the treatment of obesity? Research suggests that using cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) tools such as the Johari Window illuminates key aspects of the subconscious, unknown self. Combining CBT with small group work provides a safe space in which others help you to see things you were previously unaware of. Working with the Johari Window will help you to increase the size of your open window and reduce the size of the others.