The New Johari Window: #8 Unpredictability
As I noted in an earlier essay in this series, the postmodern condition combines complexity and unpredictability. There is a level of cognitive and emotional challenge that can be overwhelming. I’ve already spoken of the over-whelmed self. It’s more than just the cognitive dimensions described by Kegan—there is also (as I mentioned) the emotional element. We diminish ourselves, we become selective—and we look for sanctuaries. These sanctuaries can be exceptionally valuable times and places for reflection, learning and renewal. They can also, in some sense, be “false sanctuaries”—places and times in which we meet with people of like mind. We move into life style enclaves where there is greater predictability and less complexity with regard to self-definition and identity. We attempt to find false sanctuary by dulling our own senses (through use of mind-altering drugs or rituals) to avoid or diminish the challenges of the complex senses of postmodern self. We either reduce the domain of exploration in false sanctuaries (Lasch’s minimal self) or engage in an obsessive focusing on the discovery of some “authentic” self (Lasch’s culture of narcissism). We retreat from full engagement in the world and the intricacies of interpersonal relationships.
There is another way in which we can address the challenges of postmodern complexity and unpredictability. We can look for some way in which to order the seemingly chaotic intrapersonal and interpersonal world in which we dwell. The Johari Window provides order—a way of sorting out, categorizing and thinking about human interactions. It is a “simple” model that doesn’t neglect the complexity and unpredictability of postmodern interpersonal relationships. We can use the Window as a guide not only for our own personal reflection (in a true sanctuary), but also as a guide for interpersonal dialogue about the specific relationships in which we are engaged. This dialogue hopefully takes place, itself, in a true sanctuary that provides both safety and encouragement of appropriate disclosure and feedback.