Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: #A-Z Challenge
“The best way is to understand yourself, and then you will understand everything. So when you try hard to make your own way, you will help others, and you will be helped by others. Before you make your own way you cannot help anyone, and no one can help you.”
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice by Shunryu Suzuki
I won’t go so far as to suggest that you have multiple personalities, but there is certainly more to you than meets the eye!
The Johari Window
This simple little graphic was developed back in 1955 by two psychologists, first names Joe and Harry, who were studying group dynamics.
There are four quadrants, all the same size. The labels in the quadrants differ a little depending on how the model is used but essentially they are:
Your Public Self
What you know about yourself
Your Private Self
What you know about yourself
Your Blind Self
What others know about you that
Your Unknown Self
What no one knows about you,
The Johari Window is used primarily to think about relationships in a group or between groups. The goal in a group setting is to expand the quadrant of Your Public Self so that the group can function most effectively.
But for our purposes, for the goal of self-understanding, it is the Blind Self and the Unknown Self that need to be brought into the light.
Why Not Leave Well Enough Alone?
This entire A-Z series of blog posts has been a mini-curriculum in self-understanding. It has been validating, I hope, but maybe also a bit challenging? When we start mucking about with trying to figure out what stories we are telling ourselves, or why we resist the changes that we claim to want, it is reasonable to ask ourselves if it wouldn’t be better to focus on our Public and Private selves and forget the rest.
I can’t do that and, if you’re a member of the Profound Journey tribe, neither can you. The alternative to an intentional life is a life lived on autopilot. When we are unaware of the thoughts and feelings behind our behaviours, we’re never fully present in our own lives or in our relationships. Self-improvement goals are impossible to achieve, and denial and blame take the place of meaningful conversations and positive, forward motion.
The Many Benefits of Self-Understanding
Working at self-understanding provides us with so many life-enriching benefits.
If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation.Jiddu Krishnamurti
- learn to recognize, appreciate, and enhance our positive qualities and strengths.
- have an easier time making changes in the direction of a happier life because we know which thoughts and feelings trip us up, and we’ve learned how to deal with them.
- are more likely to have compassion for ourselves and others, since we have an up close and personal understanding of life’s challenges.
- are able to develop and maintain successful relationships. We know ourselves well enough to know what we want from a relationship and what we have to offer.
- make better decisions. We are aware of our own cognitive biases and thought patterns and have learned to question any destructive beliefs. And we are able to listen to others’ opinions without feeling defensive.
- feel peaceful. Matthieu Ricard said, “We deal with our mind from morning till evening, and it can be our best friend or our worst enemy.” It just doesn’t make sense to pitch ourselves into battle day after day.
- become ourselves. From a book that I must read, The Art of Talking to Yourself, Vironika Tugaleva writes, “If you can stop trying so hard to become who you think you should be, and instead commit to understanding and nourishing yourself, you will bloom into whatever kind of person you are.”
An End But Not Really
The A-Z challenge is done. I sincerely thank all readers. I’d like to think that I’d do this kind of reflecting and writing even without readers, but I’m fooling myself. This blog wouldn’t exist if there weren’t people who wanted to read it.
Double gratitude goes to those who commented, publicly or privately. Your openness, thoughtfulness and wisdom enriched each post. Several readers have said how much they enjoyed reading both the posts and the comments. Together they were a conversation, which is exactly what I’ve always wanted Profound Journey to be.
In the first post of this series, I quoted Thomas Moore who wrote,
“Your very purpose in life is to age, to become what you are; essentially, to unfold and let your inborn nature be revealed.”
I believe that unfolding to reveal our inborn natures is the very definition of our individual profound journeys. Because of that belief, this series, and your comments, you can expect to see more posts about different aspects of self-understanding. Anticipate more short posts so that there is mental space for your personal reflections rather than just the words of the experts. Shiraz is working on making it even easier to leave comments whenever you wish, and on giving you an email alerting you when there’s a reply to your comment rather than to all comments.
If you haven’t joined the tribe and would like to, we would love to have you. Soon, there will be a signup box in every post. For now, please go to the purple subscribe button at the top right of this post or of the homepage and sign up there.
We’re supposed to do a reflection post about the A-Z challenge next Monday. I won’t be doing that. After today, I return to regular posting which is early every Thursday morning (in Canada). I hope you’ll join me for my reflections this Thursday. There are some people I want you to meet.
So, do you think it’s possible to ever fully understand yourself?