While our dreams may show us ways we are in the world that we can readily identify with, they more often bring up material of which we are unaware. They want to reveal to us parts of ourselves we are blind to, or what we call in dreamwork, the Blind Spot. These are ways we are in the world that we understand from one perspective and the world may view from another, ways we are that the world may embrace or reject. They are usually behaviors and beliefs that do nothing to nourish our soul…and our true self through our dreams will want to turn all this on its head!
Something that always stayed with me from Psychology 101 was the Johari window. American psychologists, Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham (ergo the JoHari) created a technique used to help people better understand their relationship with self and others.
The Johari Window
Things we know about ourselves and others know about us.
Things we know about ourselves that others do no know about us.
Things others know about us that we do not know.
Things neither we or others know about us.
The Known Self and the Hidden Self are parts of our self we are aware of and recognize…“yeah, that’s me.” They may be qualities that enrich our life or detract from it, ways we may want to work to change. Either way, this is who we know ourselves to be.
Our dreams want to take us beneath that surface and help us to become aware of the Blind Self and especially the Unknown Self. This may be our own beauty that we don’t recognize or, may again be parts of ourselves that deplete that beauty. How can there be a part of ourselves of which we are unaware? I can offer a painful example from my early dream work to show how my dreams revealed a piece of my Unknown Self. There are behaviors and beliefs that I carry (we all do) that are not nourishing my true self, my soul. I arrived to dreamwork believing I was a thoughtful, generous giver, a good listener, a hostess with the mostess. To many of the outside world, I was…but something of me was missing…there was an emptiness…and I didn’t know it. The dreams immediately challenged this caretaking persona. In an early dream, I’m shown cooking elaborate meals for others. Isn’t that a kind and generous thing? And it can be…if it’s coming from my true heart and my true desire. The dreams were taking me under the surface and showing me what I was doing instead of being in my feelings, feeling connection and being in true relationship. The choice of food here is perfect. I started to cook at age 16, and it is a passion of mine to this day. And in working this dream, I understood how that passion was hijacked for many years by my fear that I needed to cook for others. I didn’t believe I had any of my own needs, that to be a good person I had to meet the needs of others; from that place I could earn my way in, feel I belonged…and it was a place of emptiness. It got so bad that one time someone asked me to prepare dishes for a party that I wasn’t even invited to! I declined but I still didn’t see that my caretaking was a way of being accepted. I once heard another dream teacher say, “Caretaking is the neediest giving.”
This caretaking has been acknowledged and worked with and is no longer a piece of my Unknown Self. Now, moments of generousity and giving to others, come more from my heart and my desire to be in true relationship. For me the Johari Window offers a visual to our wholeness, whether it is part of our consciousness or still lies in the Unknown Self…waiting to be revealed.
Mary Jo Heyen
Archetypal Dreamwork Practitioner
Dream sessions in person, via Skype or on the phone