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. They may even be ways that the world embraces and welcomes, that look great, but do nothing to nourish our soul.
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
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. It may be our own beauty that we don’t recognize or it may be again, 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.
Years ago, I arrived to dreamwork believing I was a thoughtful, generous giver, a good listener, a hostess with the mostess. To 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 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…actually a place of a deep wound. 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 while it can still arise, it is no longer a piece of my Unknown Self. I see it rising, know it for what it is and in that moment know I have a choice. For me the Johari Window offers a visual to our wholeness, whether is part of our consciousness or still lies in the Unknown Self…waiting to be revealed.
Mary Jo Heyen is a Natural Dreamwork Practitioner working with clients throughout the country and abroad in person, phone or Skype. Learn more about her work with dreams at www.maryjoheyen.com.